Ballghazi isn’t over, but both the NFL and Tom Brady would like it to be as soon as possible—or, more specifically, to be resolved before the start of the 2016 season. A federal appeals court has granted a request by both sides to expedite the appeal hearing, and the timing could turn out to be fun, with Goodell and Brady facing off in court the week before the Super Bowl.
The NFL immediately appealed Judge Richard Berman’s decision to vacate Brady’s four-game suspension, but the typical timeframe for an appeal is as long as 12 months, which could have led to a repeat of this year’s preseason uncertainty, something both sides were keen to avoid. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted the request cut the length of the process in half. Here’s what the schedule looks like now:
- The NFL must file its opening brief by Oct. 26.
- The NFLPA must file its answer by Dec. 7.
- The NFL will reply by Dec. 21
- Oral arguments will be heard as early as Feb. 1.
The Super Bowl is set for Feb. 7 in Santa Clara, and the AFC appears to be so much garbage this season. There’s a chance Brady and Goodell are on opposite sides in a New York courtroom on Monday, and Goodell is handing Brady the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday.
It’s an outside scenario—this appeal is strictly about the law, not about the facts of Brady’s alleged misdeeds or the NFL’s investigation, and neither party needs to attend. There’s also the possibility that either side asks the case to be pushed back at least a week so as not to conflict with the NFL’s biggest event. But Ballghazi may have one more burst of melodrama in it, and we’re all rooting for it.