The crown prince of New England will probably have to serve his "#Deflategate" penalty and sit out the first four games of the Patriots' 2016-2017 season no matter what his team wants.
That's the grim prospect for Tom Brady after a federal court denied a requested review of his suspension on Wednesday.
The New York Times reports that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit's decision may truly spell the end of the whole mess once and for all. Brady and the Patriots do, however, have one more doozy of a step they can try:
Brady can still ask the Supreme Court to hear his appeal to have his suspension overturned, but given the timetable of the court, and the fact that the season begins in less than two months, the chances of any relief coming before opening day are remote.
Brady, his legal team, and the NFL Players Association might recognize the unrealistic nature of approaching the highest court in the land but New England's passionate fans may not.
They're likely to be pretty pissed come the beginning of next season, when little-used backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo faces what's sure to be something of a trial by fire.
Even if #Deflategate has essentially been resolved, it's still clear that the union representing NFL players and the league's leadership as symbolized by commissioner Roger Goodell have issues they need to work out.