Even if Tom Brady and his legal team pull off an upset in the Second Circuit -- first to be granted a rehearing, and then to win -- it sounds as though the league will continue to wage the Deflategate fight in court.
After more than 500 days of it, that comes as no surprise.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was present at Jim Kelly's charity golf tournament in Batavia, New York on Monday when he was asked about Brady's appeal.
"We're not," Goodell told reporters, via ESPN's Mike Rodak, "going to hand the integrity of the game off" to someone else.
The long-held stance taken by Goodell and those arguing on behalf of the league is that the role of the commissioner in player discipline has been collectively bargained. They believe that by issuing Brady a four-game suspension for his alleged role in a football-deflation scheme, Goodell did nothing outside of the powers he's been given in the CBA.
Protecting the integrity of the game, Goodell has often repeated, is his objective, and it's not a duty he plans on relinquishing.
Brady's legal team has not denied the existence of Article 46 in the CBA, which spells out the commissioner's powers to discipline, but it has argued that the process by which Goodell carried out his responsibilities broke with some of the major tenets of arbitration in this country.
When the NFLPA filed its petition for a rehearing on Brady's behalf, it argued that a) Goodell unjustly based Brady's punishment on newly-introduced information and b) that Goodell did not address the schedule for discipline laid out in the CBA for equipment violations.
Both of those errors, the union explained, should be grounds for the Second Circuit to grant a rehearing.
For Brady and his team to earn a rehearing, 7 of the 13 active judges on the Second Circuit will have to agree to rehear the case. Brady lost the NFL's appeal of judge Richard Berman's decision to erase the four-game suspension when two justices on the Second Circuit's three-judge panel sided with the league.