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deflategate brady ban back in play?

NEW YORK — The Deflategate saga might not be over, and a four-game suspension for Patriots QB Tom Brady could be reinstated.

A three-judge panel heard arguments Thursday from attorneys representing Brady and the NFL in an appeals case that will determine whether Brady's punishment will be reinstated.

Deflategate began Jan. 18, 2015, when the Colts accused the Patriots of using purposely underinflated balls in the AFC title game. The Patriots won that game and the Super Bowl.

The NFL's investigation found it was "more probable than not" that the balls were deflated and Brady was "generally aware" of the situation, and it suspended him. Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the suspension on appeal. But federal Judge Richard M. Berman in Manhattan ruled in September that Brady hadn't been treated fairly and shouldn't be suspended because he didn't know that such misconduct could lead to the punishment he had received.

Thursday's hearing was ostensibly about whether Goodell overstepped his bounds as arbitrator in the appeal. But three Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals judges grilled NFL attorney Paul Clement and Players Association attorney Jeffrey Kessler, who is representing Brady, and indicated they were not sympathetic to Brady's defense.

Judges Denny Chin, Barrington Parker and Robert Katzmann focused on Brady's destruction of his cellphone before his meeting with NFL investigators in March 2015. Parker said to Kessler that "anybody within 100 yards of this proceeding knew that would raise the stakes."

The judges also seemed to agree that the facts of the case indicated Brady knew of the plan to have the balls purposely deflated. Chin said the evidence of tampering was "compelling, if not overwhelming."

A ruling isn't expected for several weeks.

Chargers: LB Donald Butler, who played in 71 games over the past five seasons, was released to save money against the salary cap.

Jaguars: G Zane Beadles, who started every game over the past two seasons, and DE Chris Clemons were cut, saving the team $9.5 million against the salary cap.

Ravens: LB Daryl Smith, who led the team with 121 tackles last season and didn't miss a start in three years, and DE Chris Canty were cut to save cap space.

Texans: Four-time Pro Bowl RB Arian Foster, who led the NFL in rushing with 1,616 yards in 2010, was released. Foster, 34, missed 12 games with groin and Achilles tendon injuries last year.

Panthers: Longtime DE Charles Johnson was released, a move that will save $11 million under the salary cap.

Redskins: QB Kirk Cousins said he signed the team's franchise tender, which gives him a one-year deal worth nearly $20 million.

et cetera

Soccer: Lionel Messi had a hat trick as host Barcelona defeated nine-man Rayo Vallecano 5-1 to become the first Spanish club to go 35 straight matches without a loss, breaking Real Madrid's mark set in 1989.

Tennis: Maria Sharapova will miss the BNP Paribas Open, which begins next week at Indian Wells, Calif., with a left arm injury.

Times wires

Sports in brief 03/03/16 [Last modified: Thursday, March 3, 2016 9:48pm]
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