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Former US solicitor general added to Brady’s legal team

Attorney Theodore B. Olson.
Attorney Theodore B. Olson.(Jay Janner-Pool/Getty Images)

Tom Brady added a heavy hitter to his legal team Friday, the surest sign yet that the Patriots’ star quarterback will exhaust every legal avenue before accepting his four-game suspension.

Brady and the NFL Players Association added Theodore Olson, who successfully represented George W. Bush in Bush v. Gore in 2000, then served as US Solicitor General from 2001-04.

Olson, 75, also represented the NFLPA in the 2011 lockout, and currently works for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Washington, D.C., which has another attorney on Brady’s legal team.

A case that at its core is about deflated footballs now includes two of the biggest attorneys in the country. The NFL is represented by Olson’s successor as Solicitor General, Paul Clement (2005-08).

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Brady hasn’t made any public comments or revealed his next steps after the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reinstated his four-game suspension Monday. Brady still has a few legal avenues: He can file for an en banc appeal and/or panel review with all 13 active judges on the Second Circuit, and if those are denied, he can file a petition for an appeal with the US Supreme Court.

The odds of either happening are not good, but the hiring of Olson certainly is a strong sign that Brady won’t go down without a fight. As Solicitors General, Olson and Clement represented the US government in cases that went to the Supreme Court.

Brady had 14 days from Monday’s announcement to file for an en banc rehearing or panel rehearing. But in Olson’s first move as Brady’s lead attorney, he filed for a time extension of two weeks, to May 23, noting that Brady is still making up his mind and the NFLPA needs to confer with its player representatives.

Brady would need seven of 13 active judges to agree to even hear an en banc appeal. The Second Circuit is notorious for respecting the panel process and not granting en banc hearings, saving them for rare and exceptional circumstances.

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Olson took this into account, highlighting in his petition that the Brady case “will have serious consequences for each of the NFLPA’s over 1,600 members and the sport of professional football.” The petition also states that this case could have far-ranging implications for all unionized workers.

Olson also assured the Second Circuit that the time extension is not a ploy to delay the process to allow Brady to play in 2016 while the matter is tied up in court.

“While good cause exists to grant the requested extension, counsel avers that the extension request is not made for purposes of unnecessary delay,” Olson wrote, “and Appellants will not be prejudiced if the extension is granted. The NFL regular season does not begin until September 2016.”


Ben Volin can be reached at ben.volin@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin