The never-ending saga of Deflategate took another strange twist on Wednesday when the Patriots decided to jump feet first into the legal fray between Tom Brady and the NFL.

With Brady petitioning the Second Circuit Court of Appeals for an en banc hearing (a session in which a case is heard before all the judges of a court -- the entire bench), the Patriots filed an amicus brief with the court urging the judges to hear the case and rule in Brady's favor.

From the motion to file the brief:

The Patriots have a strong interest in the outcome of this appeal, as the punishment currently imposed upon Mr. Brady will leave the team without its All Pro starting quarterback for the first 25% of the 2016 regular season. Mr. Brady has led the Patriots to four Super Bowl wins and thirteen division titles. To state the obvious, the Patriots will be severely adversely affected by the loss of Mr. Brady for four of the Patriots' sixteen regular season games.

This is a pretty rare occurrence: not just a professional sports team filing an amicus brief, but a professional sports team filing an amicus brief asking a court to rule for a union.

The Pats' argument in the actual brief is that the decision to uphold the four-game suspension for Brady will undermine vital principles governing arbitration of CBAs "throughout the national economy."

Under the existing 2-1 decision, the Patriots stand to lose their All-Pro quarterback for 25% of the upcoming regular season based on a severely flawed process. But the impact of the majority opinion is not limited to professional football. It threatens to undermine vital principles governing arbitration of collective bargaining agreements throughout the national economy.

Brady's suspension was intially reversed by the courts but then reintated by the Second Circuit court. The group involved wasn't a full panel, however, and Brady is hoping to get the full slate of judges to hear his case again (one dissenting opinion from the initial hearing lends some optimism towards his hope, even though it's very rare to actually see an en banc hearing granted).

If Brady gets the hearing, it's very likely he'll play the entire 2016 season and we'll end up dealing with this through the entire next offseason as well.

Deflategate, truly the gift that keeps on giving.

The Patriots took yet another step in defense of Tom Brady. USATSI