Brady’s Back: How the Pats Defeated Deflategate

Tom Brady will play. Dealt a 4-game suspension earlier in the offseason, Judge Richard Berman has ruled to nullify the suspension, meaning Brady will start for the New England Patriots in the NFL season opener against the

Pittsburgh Steelers.

Since the story broke that Brady and the Patriots allegedly deflated footballs, football nation has seemingly split into two opposing camps, pro-Brady and anti-Brady. Along with previous instances of controversy surrounding the Patriots, such as Spygate, their victory in the Super Bowl catalyzed these arguments. Did Brady, Belichick and the Patriots really deserve the fantastic end to their season, or did they gain an unfair advantage?

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell  answered this question in April by doling out punishment. The Patriots lost two draft picks and were issued a $1 million fine. Still, Goodell pushed on, trying to hold star quarterback Tom Brady accountable for his alleged knowledge of deflated footballs. 

Caught up in the whirlwind of the media circus and fan speculations from two different camps, the original investigation and eventual punishment received both criticism and praise. Brady’s appeal within the NFL’s disciplinary again found his punishment fair. Again complicated by controversy, Brady turned to an actual judge in an actual court of law, leading to his suspension being lifted due to “several significant legal deficiencies.” Brady was not notified that he could be suspended. He lacked equal access to files on the investigation. Basically, the NFL’s punishment of Brady was unlawful. Even if Brady had the general knowledge that footballs were inflated, the NFL violated a federal law in his conviction. Judge Berman did not ordain Brady’s innocence.

This decision holds great importance for Brady, the Patriots and the NFL. For Brady, his illustrious career is almost validated. Sure, this scandal will be remembered, along with the results of the investigation, but he will always be able to point to a court decision conflicting with the NFL’s conclusion. Chalk this one up to a massive victory for Tom Brady. He was not proven innocent, but it was legally proven the NFL was unjust towards him.

For the Patriots, their chances of mounting a successful title defense. Brady, arguably the best quarterback in the league, will be right where he belongs for the entire season. With many personnel and injury concerns, his return is a

massive victory for the New England Patriots.

Roger Goodell and the NFL, however, experience a massive loss with Brady’s overturned suspension. The backlash of the decision stings. The NFL has lost, to a degree, authority over its players. Goodell’s word isn’t law; his rulings are bound by legality in court. The commissioner had come under fire recently for not respecting players, and this should hurt even further. The NFL also has lost public credibility, humiliated on a national stage through the U.S. legal system. 

So, victory for Brady and the Patriots, defeat for the NFL. Has justice been done? The conclusion of Deflategate has left more questions than answers. Brady has been found guilty by the NFL, but exempt from punishment in court. There will be no clear-cut verdict, as the NFL continues to proclaim its punishment just, while Brady and the law laugh in Goodell’s face. One thing is for sure though: Tom Terrific is back, and he will play 16 games this season with footballs carefully inflated to 12.5 PSI.