By Gil Lebreton, Fort Worth Star-Telegram (TNS)
Considering that he has amassed career earnings of $150 million and that his supermodel wife Gisele banked $47 million herself just this past year, it’s probably ludicrous to think that Tom Brady lies awake these nights, worrying about Roger Goodell.
But it’s a good thing that his lawyers are, at least.
Sue Goodell. Sue his pants off, Tom.
Please spare me your righteous indignation about NFL integrity and the New England Patriots’ rap sheet and coach Bill Belichick’s tendency to fondle the loopholes.
We are talking about the air in footballs here, not knocking out spouses or switching a child until he bleeds. Did you even know there was a rule about air pressure before Deflategate?
When we were growing up, the kid down the street always liked to use his ball — the one he got for Christmas with the stripes on it, college style — when he quarterbacked our touch football games.
We preferred our old scuffed football. No problem. Both sides could use what they want.
How the Patriots’ interpretation of this time-honored sandlot protocol grew into a national scandal would be funny, if Goodell hadn’t gone all medieval on the thing.
An original two-game suspension for Ray Rice, but a four-game suspension for Brady?
Sue Goodell’s pants off, Tom.
Clearly the commissioner, emboldened by hoodwinking the players’ union into handing him deity-like powers, is making up punishments as he goes along. His handling of the New Orleans Saints’ imaginary Bountygate scandal was only the first hint.
This time he waited for “independent” investigator Ted Wells’ 243-page report, which concluded that the Patriots’ deflating was “more probable than not.”
Goodell’s sword was swift. Brady was suspended four games without pay for the 2015 season — which will include a road game against the Dallas Cowboys on October 11. The Patriots were also fined one million dollars, plus ordered to forfeit their No. 1 draft pick in 2016 and No. 4 in 2017.
Brady’s lawyer filed an immediate appeal on his behalf. Cowboys fans may want to follow the progress of that appeal.
The NFL Players Association, meanwhile, is trying to get Goodell dismissed from hearing the appeal of the case since the Patriots intend to call him as a witness.
Director DeMaurice Smith and the players’ union brought this upon themselves by treating Goodell’s magic-wand powers as a bargaining chip in the last contract negotiations.
Now the union finds itself pulling the rope, trying to drag ashore lost leverage while unpopularly defending the likes of Rice, Greg Hardy, and Adrian Peterson.
Brady? Oh, he’ll be fine. He remains adored by many, even beyond New England. And he still gets to keep the $47 million girl.
His legacy tarnished? Oh, please. For using a football that felt slightly more comfortable in his hand?
And if his suspension isn’t reduced on appeal, consider the trade-off. There isn’t a coach in the league who wouldn’t trade a four-game suspension for four Lombardi trophies.
In the end, despite his arrogant facade and $44 million annual salary, Goodell will take the biggest hit. It’s one thing for a rogue owner like Jerry Jones to profess his loyalty for the commissioner. It’s quite another that Goodell has angered Bob Kraft, the powerful Patriots owner who was once his ally.
Despite what Goodell says, Deflategate has never been about integrity and fairness. Nobody hacked into any Seattle Seahawks computers here.
From the beginning, this has been much ado about nothing. It’s been about NFL fans’ disdain for Belichick and their jealousy of Brady, the luckiest football player alive.
Goodell had to do something, and now he’s got half of America again questioning his integrity and job performance.
No objections here, your honor.
Sue his pants off.
Photo: Keith Allison via Flickr