Seven months. Millions of dollars. Press reports and investigations. And nothing changes once the season starts.
Judge Richard Berman ruled today that New England quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game NFL suspension shall be vacated, according to reports. Brady, who maintained his innocence throughout the process despite destroyed cell phones and stern comments from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s office, will be able to start when the Patriots play in the season opener on Sept. 10 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Officially speaking, Brady is not responsible for however the Patriots’ footballs ended up under-inflated during the AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts. It also means Goodell begins the season with a dark mark over his office, determined by a judge that his investigation and punishment were unwarranted against one of the most popular players in the league today
The NFL under Goodell has been under fire for its seemingly random punishment schemes, poor investigations into injuries and scandals, and ignoring domestic violence problems from players. Today’s decision makes the problem more evident.
Berman wasted no time in chiding the league offices when he asked what evidence the NFL had that a conspiracy was afoot on January 18. As soon as the parties got in front of Berman.
From the start, the investigation was a boondoggle, with misinformation flying from different league sources and no one clearing the mess up. With no evidence, aside from a destroyed cell phone, there was little reason to suspend Brady, according to the judge.
Berman sought a settlement out of court, which didn’t happen when they announced an agreement could not be reached earlier this week. According to the New York Daily News’ Gary Myers, the NFL never offered a deal but said they would reduce Brady’s suspension by one game.
The NFL has not yet said whether it will appeal the decision.