Roger Goodell’s wish was granted in upholding Tom Brady’s four-game suspension: Deflategate still isn’t going away anytime soon.
Now the New England Patriots quarterback can take the NFL to court, allowing an independent judge to decide if the league overstepped its bounds in its discipline.
Brady and the NFL Players Association now have two choices, as pointed out by NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport. They can “fast-track it with an injunction or slow-play, keep(ing) it going until after the season,” Rapoport tweeted Tuesday.
What Brady and the NFLPA decide will impact how the Patriots plan for the 2015 season. If they fast-track it, then a decision on whether Brady will have his suspension upheld, reduced or thrown out could be made before the season. The Patriots would have to split first-team training camp reps between Brady and backup Jimmy Garoppolo in that scenario, since the possibility still would exist that Brady could miss games in 2015.
If Brady and the NFLPA decide to slow-play the lawsuit, then it’s business as usual for 2015, and the Patriots would have to begin planning for potential games without Brady in 2016.
Brady turns 38 on Monday, so it would behoove him to push back his suspension since there’s a risk his skills could erode as he gets another year older. The Patriots are reigning Super Bowl champions and, despite losing key pieces from the 2014 team, still have a roster capable of claiming another title.
Delaying the suspension also would give Garoppolo an extra year of growth to lead the Patriots during Brady’s possible suspension.
If Brady and the NFLPA truly believe they’ll win the lawsuit, however, it would be in the quarterback’s and the Patriots’ best interest to finally put the Deflategate story to rest and not cause a distraction throughout training camp and the 2015 season.
New information that Brady intentionally destroyed his cell phone could hurt him in court, however, since his text messages from November to March cannot be recovered. The destruction of his phone doesn’t really affect the Wells Report or Brady’s initial discipline, since he could have chosen not to turn over his cell phone to the NFL anyway, but it could impact his lawsuit.
Brady and the NFLPA have a difficult decision to make in the upcoming days, but one thing is clear: Goodell’s announcement to uphold the suspension only gives this annoying, never-ending scandal new legs.
Thumbnail photo via Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports Images