Roger Goodell has received plenty of criticism for his handling of Deflategate.
But the NFL commissioner has stuck to his guns throughout the saga, and with Tom Brady finally serving his four-game suspension, Goodell isn’t about to change course now.
Goodell made a rare public appearance Sunday morning in an interview with TODAY’s Matt Lauer on NBC. Naturally, Lauer brought up Deflategate, asking the commish if he was “100 percent certain” he made the right call in suspending the New England Patriots’ star quarterback four games.
Here was Goodell’s reply:
“Yes, because we went through a very exhausting process with it. We had an independent investigation. We had a federal judge who ruled against it. It went to appellate court. The appellate court at that point in time said, ‘Listen, there’s compelling — if not overwhelming — evidence here.’ There’s absolutely no question that the destruction of evidence should be considered by the commissioner in the context of this, and that the process was properly followed.
“We collectively bargained a process for discipline, we went through that — and I can’t think of an issue that’s been more litigated, by the way.”
It’s hard to argue with Goodell’s final point, as what seemed like a relatively benign issue with deflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game in January 2015 turned into an ugly mess of lawsuits, investigations and appeals.
As a result, Brady will watch from afar Sunday night when Jimmy Garoppolo leads the Patriots against the Arizona Cardinals in their series opener. But Goodell still doesn’t believe the three-time Super Bowl MVP was unjustly punished.
“With all due respect, every player, every team is subject to the same rules,” Goodell added. “We don’t have rules for marquee players, and we don’t have rules for marquee teams.”
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