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Seeking a silver lining

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Thoughts on Tom Brady's suspension

News broke Monday that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's appeal of his four-game suspension has been denied.

Brady's suspension was first issued back in May of last year, following an investigation into allegedly underinflated footballs used by the quarterback during January's AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Brady subsequently won his appeal and was allowed to play the entirety of last season. However, the NFL appealed in turn and that ruling has just come down. Barring yet another appeal which may happen, though it looks like the next step might wind up being the United States Supreme Court it looks like the Patriots could very well be without the face of the franchise for the first four games of the season.

(It should be noted for those who are unaware: this latest ruling has nothing to do with the original allegations or any efforts to cover up wrongdoing. Whether or not any deflating happened is no longer the point. This was solely about whether Commissioner Roger Goodell had the authority to issue a suspension of this severity. Turns out he did and does.)

Full disclosure: I'm a Patriots fan. Obviously, I prefer it when things go their way. But I'm not going to sit here and argue for or against Brady's ultimate guilt here. I don't know. Neither do you. He pulled some sketchball maneuvers (for reasons we explored in The Maine Edge's cover story back on March 30) and got stung for it. It is what it is.

So leaving aside the questions of guilt or innocence, there's one thing that warrants consideration - is having Tom Brady sit the first four games of the upcoming season necessarily a bad thing?

Obviously, there's plenty of downside to sitting a guy who is still one of the best at the position despite his advancing age. No one understands the intricacies of the New England scheme like Tom Brady. And the importance of his phenomenal rapport with the receiving corps can't be overstated. He is the focal point of this team's success.

However, he is getting up there in age. We need only look toward Denver to see that when the wheels come off, they can come off FAST. So couldn't one argue that giving Brady the extra rest inherent to a late start might be a long-term benefit?

He'd be missing games against Arizona, Miami, Houston and Buffalo there are some potentially troublesome pass rushes there. Considering the amount of player movement on the offensive line, it might be nice for that unit to get settled. This way, Brady doesn't have to worry about trying to deal with the Cardinals defense or avoid getting suplexed by J.J. Watt.

Also - Jimmy Garoppolo was never going to see any significant time under center ahead of an active Brady. Now, the Patriots might finally get a chance to see what they've got. Four games isn't a lot, but if Garoppolo shows the team something, he instantly becomes one of two things a valuable trade piece or the heir apparent. Even if he just manages to be decent, 2-2 seems fairly doable.

A fully rested (and probably pretty angry) Brady starting from 2-2? Barring other unforeseen circumstances, that team still makes the playoffs relatively easily. Would you bet against Brady coming back and winning eight or nine out of the remaining 12 games?

One way or the other, I just want this whole mess to be over and done with. It's difficult to even care who did what at this point. If it takes Brady sitting out September for us to see the back of this debacle, then fine. Let's just try to move forward. And while there are plenty of questions that may remain forever unanswered, DeflateGate has taught us one thing for certain.

Roger Goodell is just the worst.


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