New York - Tom Brady said on Friday he's dropping his legal battle against the NFL, meaning the superstar New England Patriots quarterback will open the 2016 season serving a four-game suspension.
"It has been a challenging 18 months and I have made the difficult decision to no longer proceed with the legal process," Brady wrote on his Facebook page.
"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 came after the second US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York issued a terse ruling on Wednesday denying a petition for the full appeals court panel of judges to hear his case.
One of the highest-profile athletes in the United States, Brady has been battling the NFL ever since the league accused him of involvement in a plot to cheat by tampering with the air pressure of balls used in the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts in 2015.
The NFL-commissioned investigation into the affair was conducted by attorney Ted Wells, who concluded it was "more probable than not" that Brady was "generally aware" of Patriots attendants deflating footballs prior to the game.
A court ruled in his favor last year, quashing a four-game suspension meted out by Goodell, leaving Brady free to play all of the 2015 season.
However, on April 25, the three-judge appeals court panel ruled 2-1 that Goodell was within his powers when he suspended Brady.
Brady's last avenue of appeal is the US Supreme Court, and while he indicated he didn't plan to go there, the NFL Players Association said it wouldn't rule out a petition to the highest court in the land.
In the meantime, however, the union said it would take no legal action seeking to forestall the suspension.
"After careful consideration and discussion with Tom Brady, the NFLPA will not be seeking a stay of the four-game suspension with the 2nd Circuit," the NFLPA said in a statement Friday. "This decision was made in the interest of certainty and planning for Tom prior to the New England Patriots season. We will continue to review all of our options and we reserve our rights to petition for cert to the Supreme Court."
With such a petition the union would seek court backing for its contention that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell acted improperly in handling the case.
But it wouldn't alter the ban that will see Brady miss the first four games of New England's 2016 campaign against the Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills.