Is the NFL going too far with Deflategate? ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith thinks so.
The NFL is appealing U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman’s decision to vacate Tom Brady’s four-game suspension related to the quarterback’s alleged involvement in Deflategate. Smith understands the move, which NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday is about the league’s collective bargaining agreement rather than the New England Patriots quarterback, but the analyst also wants to move on.
?Do I think that (Brady) sat up there and told somebody to deflate footballs? No,” Smith said Wednesday on WEEI’s “Dennis and Callahan” of the Patriots’ under-inflated football scandal. “But at the same time, don?t tell me that as the quarterback of the team, the man behind center, the guy who touches footballs more than anybody, that you knew nothing whatsoever about footballs being deflated.
“Having said all of that, he?s still one of the greatest players that we?ve ever seen play this game. He may go down as the greatest quarterback in NFL history. He has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt — deflated footballs or non-deflated footballs — that his greatness is not to be questioned.”
It’s hard to downplay Brady’s credentials, especially now that he’s performing as well as ever at age 38 in the wake of Deflategate. Any criticism toward Brady instead centers on him and the Patriots allegedly compromising the integrity of the game, which the NFL claims to be paramount.
But at what point will the league decide enough’s enough? That’s the question Smith is asking himself as Brady and the Patriots continue to dominate on the heels of their fourth Super Bowl title.
?The fact that the NFL continues to pursue this case, to me, is just an exercise — I don?t want to go as far as a witch hunt, because I do understand what they?re doing from the perspective of, ?I?m the commissioner, I have this authority that was collectively bargained, and I don?t give a damn what a federal judge said, I should still maintain that authority so I can continue to uphold the integrity of the game of football,’ ” Smith said. “But there does come a point in time where I believe you need to cut your losses. And I think this is one of those times.
?We want to see Tom Brady playing football. Bottom line. If Tom Brady is not playing on a Sunday because of injury or something like that, that?s entirely different. But if this man is not on a football field playing football because Roger Goodell and the NFL couldn?t let go of the issue of deflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game more than 10 months ago, I think it?s an absolute travesty. If you felt that adamant about it, you should have made sure he didn?t play in the Super Bowl.?
It’s not like the NFL’s appeal will impact this season. The appeals court isn’t scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case until February, by which point Brady could have another Super Bowl ring.
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Click to read NFL’s full Deflategate appeal briefing >>
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