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Deflategate decision could come next week, final resolution could be months away

Deflategate ruling could come next week, according to Roger Goodell.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

A half a year has passed since the Patriots playoff balls were discovered to be underinflated. After denials, reports, rebuttals, suspensions, and an appeal, a resolution is finally on the horizon. Or is it?

Though the Patriots organization has accepted their punishment, Patriots QB Tom Brady has appealed his four-game suspension, and it is unlikely he will rest until his suspension is completely vacated. While many are betting on a reduction in his sentence, it has become increasingly clear that Brady will contest any suspension in court.

A court case would not examine the guilt or innocence of Brady, rather it would examine the process through which Brady was suspended. It is not a setting in which the entire Deflategate scandal will be rehashed. The point of a legal challenge would be to determine whether or not the NFL's punishment was fair and consistent with other player punishments. Brady could also attack Goodell's decision to serve as arbitrator, a role he is prohibited from serving in the state of Missouri.

While it is impossible to predict Goodell's ultimate decision, one thing is nearly certain: the saga will not end unless the the Commissioner completely vacates Brady's suspension. While the matter is tied up in court, one possibility is that Brady will be allowed to play during the 2015 season and serve his suspension, if there is still a suspension, during the 2016 season after the matter has been resolved in court.

So, while there has been a long wait for a Deflategate decision, it is more probable than not that further legal action will result in even more waiting. The only scenario that will provide certainty for the Patriots week one game against the Steelers is if Goodell completely vacates the suspension.

Meanwhile Roger Goodell is spending the weekend at the Sun Valley summer camp for billionaires, an annual conference hosted by investment bank Allen & Co. Guess who else is there?