Tom Brady said on Friday he will stop fighting his suspension for "Deflategate," a scandal that tarnished the reputation of one of the sport's best players, tested the authority of National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell and exposed rifts inside the league office.
"It has been a challenging 18 months and I have made the difficult decision to no longer proceed with the legal process," the New England Patriots quarterback said in a Facebook post. "I'm going to work hard to be the best player I can be for the New England Patriots and I look forward to having the opportunity to return to the field this fall."
Brady's decision comes two days after his case was turned aside by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. His only remaining hope had been the U.S. Supreme Court, which accepts about 1 percent of the appeals submitted.
Originally suspended four games after the league concluded the Patriots intentionally under-inflated the footballs used in the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts in early 2015, Brady embarked on an odyssey through arbitration and the federal courts to clear his name . A federal judge overturned the suspension, allowing Brady to play last season, but the 2nd Circuit reinstated it this spring.
The NFL Players Association said on Friday it could still ask the nation's highest court to hear the case. But without a stay of the suspension, Brady would still sit out the first four games of the season. Backup Jimmy Garoppolo is expected to start for New England when they open on Sept. 11 at the Arizona Cardinals.
"This decision was made in the interest of certainty and planning for Tom prior to the New England Patriots season," the union said in a statement. "We will continue to review all of our options."
An NFL spokesman said the league would have no comment.