A federal appeals panel in New York questioned NFL attorneys on why the simple act of deflating footballs warranted the four-game suspension the league gave New England quarterback Tom Brady.
The grilling by the three judges came as lawyers for the NFL asked the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate Brady's suspension for the "Deflategate" controversy. Neither Brady nor NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appeared.
Judge Barrington Parker asked NFL attorney Paul Clement how a deflated football was even beneficial to a player. The league has set a standard weight.
Clement argues Brady's suspension is reasonable. He said it was a shame the issue was hanging over the league for another season.
In court filings, NFL Players Association lawyers said Goodell was making a "sweeping grab for power" when he upheld the four-game suspension in July.
The court is unlikely to rule for weeks. A ruling may hinge on obscure points of contract law that sports fans may find less interesting than the drama that has unfolded within the controversy.
If the judges rule in the league's favor, Brady may have to sit out the first four games this year. If the union wins, it is likely he will play. Either way, the case is likely to be cited in labor law for years to come.
Fox News' Shira Bush and The Associated Press contributed to this report.