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Deflategate: A Timeline of the New England Patriots' Long and Winding Scandal

If the case's twisting trail seems confusing, that's because it is. Here's a roadmap.
Image: Appeals court reinstates Tom Brady's 4-game Deflategate suspension
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady leaving federal court last August after appealing NFL's suspension.Andrew Burton / Getty Images, file

It has been 15 months since the New England Patriots were accused of deflating footballs in the AFC Championship game win that sent them to Super Bowl XLIX in 2015, and the scandal known as "Deflategate" still is not settled.

There have been accusations, counter-accusations, internal investigations, federal court rulings, suspensions imposed and canceled.

If the case's twisting trail seems confusing, that's because it is.

Here's a roadmap:

Jan. 18, 2015: The New England Patriots, led by star quarterback Tom Brady, beat the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship, 45-7, in the rain. After the game, the Colts complain that some of the game balls were underinflated, which would make them easier to catch and throw, particularly during bad weather. The league begins looking into the complaints.

Jan. 20, 2015: The NFL finds that 11 footballs used by the Patriots were underinflated. The scandal erupts.

Jan. 21, 2015: Patriots coach Bill Belichick denies knowing anything about the deflated footballs.

Jan. 22, 2015: Tom Brady holds a news conference in which he says he’s innocent and questions whether the controversy is all that important.

"This isn't ISIS," he says. "No one's dying."

Jan. 23, 2015: The NFL announces it has hired lawyer Ted Wells to lead an investigation.

Jan. 26, 2015: Patriots owner Robert Kraft denies any wrongdoing by his team and says he wants an apology if they are cleared.

Feb. 1, 2015: The Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX after a last-minute game-saving interception.

May 6, 2015: The NFL’s 243-page "Wells Report," citing internal and private messages, concludes that it was “more probable than not” that Patriots personnel intentionally deflated footballs and that Brady was “at least generally aware.” The report faults Jim McNally, a Patriots locker room attendant, and John Jastremski, an equipment assistant, for an apparent effort to let air out of balls before the AFC championship game. The Patriots suspend Jastremski and McNally indefinitely.

May 11, 2015: The NFL suspends Brady for four games without pay after an investigator concludes that he failed to fully cooperate with the probe and gave testimony that “was not plausible and contradicted by other evidence.” The league also fines the team $1 million and forces it to forfeit two draft picks. Brady's agent, Donald Yee, calls the punishment "ridiculous” and said it had "no legitimate basis."

June 23, 2015: Brady's attorneys present their appeal during 10 hours of testimony in New York City.

July 28, 2015: Goodell upholds Brady’s four-game suspension and accuses Brady of having his phone destroyed just before he met with investigators. Goodell writes that Brady "engaged in conduct detrimental to the integrity of, and public confidence in, the game of professional football." The league also files suit in federal court to confirm the suspension. The National Football League Players Association vows to appeal.

July 29, 2015: In a lengthy post on Facebook, Brady says he “did nothing wrong” and that he ditched his phone because it was broken and was told it would not be used in the NFL’s investigation.

"There is no 'smoking gun,' and this controversy is manufactured to distract from the fact they have zero evidence of wrongdoing," Brady wrote.

Aug. 12, 2015: Lawyers representing Brady and the NFL clash in U.S. District Court. Judge Richard Berman says both sides made good arguments, and encourages them to agree on a settlement.

Aug. 31, 2015: Lawyers from both sides tell Berman that their attempts to settle the case out of court have failed. That leaves it to Berman to decide.

Sept. 3, 2015: Berman throws out Brady’s four-game suspension. Berman, sitting in Manhattan, announced the decision after the NFL and its players union failed to reach a settlement. The judge criticized “significant legal deficiencies” by Goodell, including failing to give Brady notice about the possibility of a suspension. Goodell vows to appeal.

Sept. 6, 2015: Four days before the start of the 2015 season, Brady says he is ready to put the scandal behind him. Brady, who was allowed to play in preseason games, said he had been preparing by "compartmentalizing things and dealing with things (only) when they're really kind of at the forefront." The Patriots open up the 2015 season four days later, and, led by Brady, go on to win their first 10 games.

Dec. 14, 2015: The Patriots, led by Brady, clinch their seventh consecutive AFC East title.

Jan. 24, 2016: Brady takes a beating in the Patriots’ loss to the Denver Broncos in the AFC championship game. The Broncos go on to win the Super Bowl.

March 3, 2016: A three-judge federal appellate court in New York questions lawyers for the NFL and the NFL Players Association.

March 9, 2016: Brady signs a two-year contract extension with the Patriots to last through 2019, including a $28 million signing bonus.

April 25, 2016: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upholds Brady's suspension. The Patriots must again plan on starting a season without him — barring another twist.