16350680255_130b5a8397_zAs deflategate costs near $20 million it becomes clear that the lawsuit is no longer arguing over a few missing pounds of pressure in footballs. ESPN estimates that with negotiating rates nearing $1,000 an hour, the NFL has spent over $12.5 million in legal costs and investigation fees. The NFL player’s union has spent upwards of $5 million defending Tom Brady, with its main outside counsel, Winston & Strawn LLP.  Other costs include those expended by the Patriots in defending against the investigation’s report and those that will continue to incur during the appeals process. When the court last year held that Roger Goodell was not a neutral arbiter, the NFL player’s union was granted the right to have the matter adjudicated in court, outside of the contract’s arbitration process.  What is really at stake for Goodell and the NFL is this potentially dangerous precedent deflategate could set—one that would allow the player’s union to escape internal arbitration and litigate future matters in court.

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Chandler Howell is an Entertainment and Sports Highlight Contributor for the Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law and a current first year student at Harvard Law School (Class of 2018).