Tom Brady’s appeal will begin being heard on Tuesday the 23rd. Don’t expect any revelations regarding “new information” supplied by Brady and don’t expect any final decision on Brady’s availability on September 10th. I doubt very much that Roger Goodell is expecting anything new either.
He made the gesture publicly so that he was on record when they go to court later that Brady was given not one, but two, opportunities to come clean and save himself but refused. You see unless Goodell does anything other than reverse the decision to suspend Brady in its entirety, Brady and the NFLPA are expected to file suit in federal court.
Brady’s legal team supplying the NFL with his cell phone records and emails in the appellate process shows the NFL the case they intend to make before they go to court, giving the NFL an advantage in defending it’s position. The appeal becomes, in effect, a dance whereby the player and the league go through the motions of staging the hearings already knowing the outcome will remain with Brady still suspended.
Even if Goodell wants to reverse Troy Vincent’s decision and eliminate Brady’s suspension altogether, too much information has been made public for the NFL not to have a PR nightmare afterward. He can’t do it. I can hear Yinzers saying, “Yeah right, I’ll believe it when I see it” as I write this. Odds are I’m right though.
Given the chorus of favorable remarks from other owners when the decision to punish Brady and the Patriots was passed down, Goodell would have to answer to 31 of his bosses if he suddenly reversed course. And make no mistake, turnover stats aside, letting a little air out of the ball is a misdemeanor by comparison to Spygate’s felony.
The owners are pleased because it’s allegedly common knowledge that the Patriots bend the rules wherever they can and have long had a culture that encourages cheating. Being a cheat wins you no friends. Being good at cheating wins you many enemies.
So, setting aside what Goodell’s wishes may or may not be, because they don’t matter, what we can expect is Goodell to take a public stance that will please most NFL fans and owners. He will do what’s popular to everyone outside New England and probably to a few there who are rational people capable of critical thought, unlike many. He will do so knowing that he’ll be facing a challenge in court regardless.
From a PR standpoint, the worst thing that can happen is that the courts come in and make the unpopular decision. That doesn’t really matter all that much to the league. Goodell and the NFL’s Management are off the hook. They can say that they “tried” to enforce the rules and the courts came in and reversed their decision.
Brady has already gone on record as saying he will accept nothing other than total exoneration. If you look at it rationally, he really has no choice. He literally has his entire legacy riding on the outcome, not to mention Hall of Fame status (the voting is completely subjective), current and future endorsement opportunities and the already very real concern that every time, from today until the end of time, that the Patriots of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are brought up anywhere, anytime, cheating will be a part of the conversation.
Other players have successfully fought suspensions in the courts and managed to get judges to hold up their suspensions until after their cases were resolved (See: Star Caps and BountyGate cases).
Here’s how it’s going to go down:
– Brady will appear at his appeal hearing and supply no new information (text messages or emails)
– Goodell will say that since nothing new has been supplied, there is nothing new to consider and uphold the original discipline.
– Brady and the NFLPA will file suit in federal court.
– Brady’s lawyers will request a stay of his suspension until his case has been resolved.
– Brady will be awarded that stay.
– Brady plays week one.
Were you actually expecting anything else? Because Ben Roethlisberger told you a few weeks ago not to.