FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady said Friday that he will not ask the U.S. Supreme Court to block his four-game Deflategate suspension, ending his fight in a scandal that tested the power of the NFL commissioner and tarnished the reputation of one of the sport's greatest players.
"It has been a challenging 18 months, and I have made the difficult decision to no longer proceed with the legal process," the Patriots quarterback said in a Facebook post.
The decision by the four-time Super Bowl champion came two days after his case was turned aside by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Brady's only remaining hope to take the field when the Patriots open the season Sept. 11 against Arizona had been a stay from the nation's highest court, which accepts about 1 percent of the appeals submitted.
More worrisome for Brady and the Patriots was the chance that he would receive a stay — which would require only the blessing of a single Supreme Court justice, in this case Ruth Bader Ginsburg — only to have the whole court later refuse to hear the case. That could allow the suspension to fall at a more inconvenient time in the season such as the playoffs.
"This decision was made in the interest of certainty and planning for Tom prior to the New England Patriots' season," the NFL Players Association said in a statement.
The union said it was still considering whether to seek on its own a Supreme Court ruling that would limit commissioner Roger Goodell's authority to punish players. Dropping the case now would leave in place what the union called this week a "broken system that must be fixed."
But even if the union fights on, Brady would still sit out the first four games of the season. Backup Jimmy Garoppolo, who has spent the past two years as the backup, is expected to start.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who has split with longtime league allies over the punishment, renewed his complaint that the suspension was "unprecedented, unjust and unreasonable."
Brady is eligible to return in Week 5, when New England visits the Browns. Despite the suspension, the Pats remain overwhelming favorites to win the AFC East for the 13th time in 14 seasons, and the gambling website Bovada listed them as the top choice to win the Super Bowl.
An NFL spokesman said the league would have no comment.
Originally suspended four games after the NFL concluded the Patriots intentionally underinflated balls used in the AFC title game on Jan. 18, 2015, Brady embarked on an odyssey to clear his name that has now stretched into its third season. A federal judge overturned the suspension, allowing Brady to play last season, but the 2nd Circuit reinstated it this spring.
Broncos give LB Miller a record $114.5M deal
Von Miller signed a blockbuster $114.5 million contract with the Broncos that includes $70 million guaranteed and makes him the highest-paid nonquarterback in NFL history.
The Super Bowl MVP accepted the six-year offer two hours before Friday's deadline, tweeting a photo in his Broncos uniform with the caption "For Life."
Last month, Miller's camp rejected the guaranteed $38.5 million the Broncos offered, and Miller, 27, threatened to sit out the season barring a long-term deal. The new deal includes a $23 million signing bonus and will pay Miller $61 million over the first eight months.
Miller thanked team owner Pat Bowlen, president and CEO Joe Ellis, general manager John Elway and coach Gary Kubiak "for making this possible."
"I'm also thankful for the way my teammates and our fans have supported me," he said in a statement. "I'm excited for the future and ready to get back to work."
The only player with more guaranteed money is Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who signed a six-year deal last month that includes $75 million fully guaranteed and another $12 million guaranteed against injury.
MORE DEALS: Muhammad Wilkerson and Justin Tucker received big paydays, shedding their franchise tags and getting new deals.
Kirk Cousins, Alshon Jeffery, Eric Berry and Trumaine Johnson, however, will be playing this season under the value of their tags after they and their teams failed to agree on long-term contracts by the league's Friday deadline. Franchised players who didn't sign deals by the deadline must wait until the offseason to reopen negotiations.
• The Jets had a last-minute stunner, signing Wilkerson to a five-year extension that CBS Sports reported was for $86 million that includes $37 million guaranteed and $53.5 million guaranteed for injury. He's set to make $54 million over the first three years. The defensive end had a career-high 12 sacks last season and made his first Pro Bowl. The team had placed the $15.7 million franchise tag on him, but as fans began to take to social media, upset at a deal not getting done, the Jets announced the new contract.
• Tucker and the Ravens agreed to a four-year contract, the team said. The deal's worth $16.8 million with $10.8 million guaranteed, ESPN reported. Since joining the Ravens in 2012, Tucker has made 130-of-148 field goals, an 87.8 percent success rate that's second-best in NFL history.
• Cousins will earn $19.95 million this season while playing under the franchise tag for the Redskins. He'll be the first quarterback to play a season on the tag since Drew Brees, then with the Chargers, in 2005.
• Jeffery will be paid $14.6 million this season under the tag by the Bears. He missed seven games last season with injuries but still led the club with 54 catches and 807 receiving yards while scoring four touchdowns.
• Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said the team and Berry were unable to reach a long-term deal. Berry, the comeback player of the year last season after being diagnosed in November 2014 with Hodgkin's lymphoma, will play this season under the tag worth $10.8 million.
• The Rams and Johnson also couldn't close a deal, meaning the cornerback will play under his tag value, worth $13.952 million.
Suspensions for ex-Bull, ex-Seminole
A pair of former USF and Florida State standouts have been suspended for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
Linebacker Aaron Lynch (USF) of the 49ers and running back Karlos Williams (FSU) of the Bills will miss their respective team's first four regular-season games.
Lynch, 23, has 12½ sacks and 61 tackles in his two seasons with the 49ers. He fell to the fifth round of the 2014 draft due in part to off-field concerns.
Williams, 23, a fifth-round draft pick last year, tied for the team lead in touchdowns with nine. But he made news last month when he attributed to being about 20 pounds overweight at minicamp to his wife's pregnancy. "I like to eat, and then her being pregnant gave me an excuse to eat, so eating anything and everything," Williams said in mid June.