Deflategate saga far from over if Brady keeps fighting

Tom Brady won Round 1. The NFL won Round 2. Round 3, anyone?

The ''Deflategate'' saga will continue if Brady insists on fighting his four-game suspension. There's no reason to think he's willing to accept it despite long odds to win another court battle and the possibility that more litigation can drag on into next year.

Manhattan Judge Richard Berman overturned the suspension last September, allowing Brady to play the 2015 season. A three-judge panel of a federal appeals court ruled 2-to-1 on Monday in favor of the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell, reinstating the suspension.

But that doesn't mean the New England Patriots definitely won't have their four-time Super Bowl champion quarterback the first month of the season.

Here's what can happen next:

- The NFL Players Association has two weeks to ask the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan to rehear the case or the union can request the entire 2nd Circuit hears it. If either agreed to do so, then the NFLPA could ask for a stay of Monday's ruling and the court could agree or could turn down the request.

- The union could appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, though it's unlikely the court would consider it.

- Brady and the NFL could reach a compromise, change the terms of the punishment and reduce the suspension. The league wanted to negotiate a settlement with Brady from the start, but he was adamant he did nothing wrong and wanted to clear his name. A reduced suspension probably means Brady would have to agree to some wrongdoing and apologize for his failure to cooperate fully with the investigation by not turning over his cellphone. So far, Brady has refused to take this path. If the courts aren't willing to hear his appeal, he may have no other choice than to sit down with Goodell and work out a solution.

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Associated Press writer Larry Neumeister in New York contributed to this report.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP-RobMaaddi

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