They could have easily ended it on the day it started. They could have easily ended it after it was proven that their "independent" investigation did not find any tangible evidence of wrong-doing. They could have easily ended it after Judge Berman slammed them in court.
Alas, the NFL front office and management council did not.
That is why we are due to enter the next stage of the Deflategate farce, as the NFL continues to spend millions of dollars to fight its best player – New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady – in court over an alleged equipment violation that never actually took place, according to numerous scientific studies.
This next stage is an appeal hearing to take place on Thursday, March 3, 2:00 p.m. ET, in New York City. The hearing will be a short oral argumentation in front of the three appointed appeal judges, who will ask follow-up questions to get a clearer view of the picture.
Yesterday, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit announced those three judges:
Chief Judge Richard A. Katzman
Judge Barrington Parker Jr.
Judge Denny Chin.
According to Sport Illustrated's Michael McCann, the three judges have collectively heard 57 appeals of District Judge Richard Berman's decisions and have affirmed his decisions roughly three out of four times. While this fact does obviously not ensure a victory for Brady and the NFLPA, the odds are certainly in his favor.
The appeal hearing is necessary because the NFL did not accept Judge Berman's ruling to overturn Brady's four-game suspension last September because of violations of basic fairness. The league, arguably in an attempt to strengthen its position over the players and their labor association, has appealed the decision and will now once again try to save their face in court.
It is more probable than not that they won't.