Regardless of what anyone thinks about Tom Brady’s honesty or the New England Patriots’ reputation, we all can take a second to laugh at NFL commissioner Roger Goodell right now.
OK, now that’s over with, so fans can joyously put away their “Free Brady” shirts, and those with an agenda against the Patriots can quietly slink into a hole and wait out New Englanders’ victory celebration: The QB’s four-game suspension has been nullified by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman.
Most importantly, the Patriots’ season finally can return to normal. Brady will play in Week 1, Jimmy Garoppolo will return to being a backup quarterback, divorce rumors can subside and Bill Belichick no longer needs to worry about the first four weeks of the NFL season.
Because, let’s face it, as good as Garoppolo looked over the last two preseason games, there was no way Belichick’s blinders were so powerful that he was only focused on the next practice or game as he claimed.
Those first four Patriots games were terrifying because of the uncertainty over Brady, who has missed just 15 games since he took over as New England’s starting quarterback in 2001. The year he tore his ACL and missed those 15 games — 2008 — was one of two in which the Patriots haven’t made the playoffs since Brady became the starter.
Now the Brady reign doesn’t need to be interrupted again, and the Patriots’ stranglehold on the AFC East doesn’t appear to be loosening any time soon.
Brady actually can begin to focus on the 2015 season, too. As good as he was in training camp, he was equally shaky in the Patriots’ first three preseason games. Some of the first-team offense’s struggles can be chalked up to injuries and offensive-line woes, but Brady didn’t appear to be himself in limited action.
To say Brady will be entering “eff-you” mode when the season begins in a week would be an understatement.
NESN.com received an advance copy of “America’s Game: 2014 Patriots” on Wednesday. In the 43-minute long recap of the team’s Super Bowl XLIX-winning season, wide receiver Julian Edelman, while talking about the Patriots’ 2-2 start to the 2014 season, said Brady feeds off criticism.
“You have one of the best quarterbacks, probably the best quarterback of all time, it’s just kind of ridiculous that people jump off that bandwagon,” Edelman said. “I hope they keep on doing it because it just fires him up. He’s that kind of guy, so all the people out there that do that, keep it coming. He likes that stuff.”
Nothing could fire up Brady more than this seven-month long Deflategate scandal. Not having to wait until the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft to hear his name called. Not speculation he could be benched after the beginning of the 2014 season. Not even losing two Super Bowls. Get ready for what could be Brady’s most dominant season ever.
Brady had his name dragged through the mud, and while Berman’s decision doesn’t necessarily mean the QB is innocent, it does signify Goodell had no right to suspend him in the first place over the most overblown scandal in sports history. Brady knows he didn’t need deflated footballs to win four Super Bowls, as proven by his improved statistics once those AFC Championship Game footballs were re-inflated, and now he’ll be out to prove it.
As for the Patriots’ preseason finale Thursday night against the New York Giants? Brady should take one snap, kneel, drop the ball and walk off the Gillette Stadium field to thunderous applause.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images