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DeflateGate: Tom Brady's Suspension Likely to be Overturned and Potential Appeals Timeline

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Few expect the hefty penalty on the Patriots to stand the appeals process.

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is appealing the suspension the league handed down as a penalty for DeflateGate. He's hired the best lawyer in the land to dispute the questionable Wells Report, and now the popular thought is that Brady's suspension is going to be overturned.

There were two thought processes to try and justify the four game suspension from the league:

1) Roger Goodell issued the four game suspension with the belief it would be reduced in the appeals process so he show both a heavy hand of justice and then some subsequent mercy.

2) Goodell issued and wants a four game suspension because the Patriots weren't cooperative to the level of his liking, and any reduction in penalty would appear like the league lost after ruling.

Both make plenty of sense, although I'm personally in support of the latter belief after everything that's happened in this DeflateGate process.

An NFL source advised ESPN's Adam Schefter that the legal team that Brady has assembled is "unreal" in their quality and caliber, and thought there was a good chance the suspension would be reduced or overturned.

With the appeals process slated to start at the end of May, here's the timeline of Adrian Peterson's appeals process over the end of 2014 and into the start of 2015, which was also covered by Brady's lawyer Jeffrey Kessler.

November 11th: NFL notifies Peterson he has to attend a hearing on November 14th. NFLPA requests the meeting be rescheduled to the following week due to prior engagements. NFL doesn't respond.

November 14th: Originally planned meeting doesn't take place.

November 17th: NFLPA asks for an update and proposes November 19th as a date for a meeting. NFL states that Peterson "elected not to attend or participate as requested" and the league moves forward without hearing Peterson's position.

November 18th: NFL suspends Peterson for the final six games in 2014, on the basis of the new domestic violence policy (DV policy). At this point Peterson had been withheld for eight games. NFLPA appeals on the grounds that this DV policy can't be retroactively applied and that the league prevented Peterson from participating in the pre-disciplinary discussions. NFL sets December 2nd as the arbitration date and appoints Harold Henderson as the hearing officer in place of Roger Goodell.

NFLPA asks for Henderson to be recused from the hearing due to "inextricable ties to the League Officer and Commissioner Goodell." Henderson declines.

December 2nd-4th: Arbitration takes place and NFLPA highlights four issues; 1) NFL can't retroactively apply policies; 2) NFL prevented Peterson from presenting his side; 3) Can the league order psychiatric counseling under the CBA?; 4) Can Peterson being in the Exempt list count as a form of discipline under the CBA?

Henderson rejects all four issues and supports the Commissioner's original rulings.

December 15th: NFLPA files to vacate the arbitration award from Henderson on the grounds that the rulings violate or overreach the CBA, that retroactive application isn't allowed, and that Henderson wasn't partial. (Editor's Note: I would assume that Henderson's ability to be a partial arbitrator will be a major factor in Brady's appeals process)

February 26th: District Court rules that the NFL can't retroactively apply policy and that NFL exceeded their authority. The court didn't consider it necessary to even address whether or not Henderson was partial or the punishment was fair.

This appeals process took 107 days and the NFL's initial ruling was overturned. 107 days from today brings us to the last week in August. If Brady's appeal lasts as long as Peterson's, then it will be pressing very close to the season's kick-off. Hopefully Kessler and company already have their argument lined up and this proceeding can be handled in an extremely timely fashion.