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Adrian Peterson Can Potentially Affect Tom Brady's Court Case

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

It's been awhile since we heard anything about the New England Patriots' football-deflating scandal from the 2014 AFC Championship Game, so you may have been in the impression that the entire thing was over. But, similar to the way things were when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor, nothing is over until someone else decides it is.

On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the four-game suspension that had been handed down to Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady and had been overturned was to be reinstated. This means that Brady is out for the first four games of the 2016 season. . .pending appeal.

According to an interview by sports attorney Daniel Wallach on a Boston radio station, Brady has two options for that appeal. The first is for the Second Circuit to hear the case en banc (pronounced like "on bonk"), which means that the case would be heard by all of the judges that are a part of the Second Circuit. Generally appeal cases are heard by a panel of three judges selected from all the members of the Circuit Court, but an en banc hearing would put the matter in front of the entire group of 22 judges. That's my understanding, anyway.

However, according to what Wallach says in the interview, the Second Circuit hears en banc cases at the rate of about one a year, which means that while that route is possible, it's not likely. If the Second Circuit doesn't hear the case en banc, then Brady's only remaining option is the Supreme Court.

That's where the connection to the Adrian Peterson case comes in.

Lest we forget, even though Peterson has been reinstated by the National Football League, he still has a court case ongoing in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Peterson's case, much like Brady's, questions whether the National Football League has the power to do certain things under the "Conduct Detrimental" clause of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. In the Brady case, the Second Circuit essentially ruled that Roger Goodell and company had the ability to do what they did under the Conduct Detrimental rule of the CBA.

Should the Eighth Circuit come back and rule in favor of Peterson. . .basically saying that Goodell and company overstepped their bounds in their administration of punishment in the Peterson case. . .that would create a situation known as a Circuit Split, in which two lower courts offer conflicting rulings on the same matter. That sort of situation generally gives a particular case a boost when it comes to deciding whether or not the Supreme Court hears a particular case.

"If you have two different federal appellate courts viewing the role of an arbitrator under the NFL CBA differently, you have a split among the circuit courts," Wallach explained. "And circuit splits are the number one reason why the U.S. Supreme Court takes a case. Ninety percent of the Supreme Court's dockets are because of circuit splits, to try to afford uniformity in federal law.

To summarize, it would appear that Tom Brady's best chance of appealing this case further is to hope like heck that Adrian Peterson is successful in the Eighth Circuit. I'm not sure of the time frame of when such a Supreme Court case would be heard, and I'm not certain that it would take place in a timely enough manner to prevent Brady from being suspended in 2016. However, it could go to the larger matter of what the National Football League (and specifically the Commissioner) can do in the future.