A phrase that Patriots fans have been screaming throughout the summer can now be put to rest; Tom Brady won his appeal against the NFL on Sept. 3 and is now “free” to play.
The NFL originally suspended Brady on May 11 for four weeks due to serious allegations surrounding his suspected knowledge about tampered footballs in the AFC championship game last season. Brady has maintained his innocence throughout the past months, and most fans have supported Brady rather than the NFL.
The collective bargaining agreement between the NFL owners and NFL Players Association gave NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell the power to make disciplinary decisions for player misconduct. The NFL Commissioner also has the ability to hand out rulings and be the arbitrator if his decisions are ever appealed, which means Goodell has the authority to be judge and jury for his own decisions.
Although the allegations against Brady were strong, the concrete evidence against him was weak. In one of the most important legal defeats in NFL history, U.S. District Judge Richard Berman overturned Goodell’s decision to suspend Brady.
The long process exhausted fans that did not see a basis for the allegations. Fans cite that the deflated footballs were confiscated during halftime while the score was 14-14. During the game’s second half, the Patriots scored 14 more points with regulation footballs.
Goodell has made rocky decisions in all of his last five rulings (Bountygate, Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy, and now Tom Brady), and is losing credibility and trust within the NFL organization, and the general public.
The problem isn’t with the Patriots, who have been portrayed as bending or stretching the rules every other year. The problem is Goodell. Until something changes within the league, fans will have to continue to strongly defend their teams and players while simultaneously arguing against Goodell’s rulings.
In the meantime, Patriots fans can rejoice that their golden boy is free to fully defend their fourth Superbowl championship.