Almost eight months. That is how long we, as a collective conscious of football fans, have been talking about deflated footballs. Tom Brady and the National Football League have been the topic of many dinner conversations and jokes on late night television since Brady and the rest of the New England Patriots wiped the floor with the Indianapolis Colts in the 2014 American Football Conference Championship Game. After eight long months of speculating, arguing and, frankly, getting annoyed that we are still talking about deflated footballs, it is finally all over.
Thursday morning, Judge Richard Berman ruled in favor of Tom Brady and the Patriots by overturning Brady’s four-game suspension for allegedly deflating footballs in the AFC Championship Game against the Colts in January. In his 40-page decision, Berman sided with Brady and criticized how NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the rest of the NFL leadership handled the scandal from the beginning.
Berman said, “he vacated Goodell’s decision, in part, because it was ‘premised upon several significant legal deficiencies, including inadequate notice to Brady of his potential discipline (four-game suspension) and his alleged misconduct.”
After a few weeks of negotiations with the judge in a New York court, both sides refused to settle the case, which forced Berman to make a decision. After days passed with no resolution and Berman repeatedly poking holes the NFL’s case, Patriots fans got more and more hopeful that the resolution would be in their favor. With the season opener looming, there was a lot of pressure to get this resolved quickly. On Aug. 31, the judge announced that there would not be a settlement made between the two parties, and he would announce his decision no later than Sept. 4.
Goodell released a statement Thursday morning about the decision. The statement said, “we are grateful to Judge Berman for hearing this matter, but respectfully disagree with today’s decision. We will appeal today’s ruling in order to uphold the collectively bargained responsibility to protect the integrity of the game.”
Patriots owner Robert Kraft followed up Goodell’s statement with a statement of his own, praising Brady and Judge Berman. Kraft’s statement reads, “Tom Brady is a classy person of the highest integrity. He represents everything that is great about this game and this league. Yet, with absolutely no evidence of any actions of wrongdoing by Tom in the [NFL-commissioned] Wells report, the lawyers at the league still insisted on imposing and defending unwarranted and unprecedented discipline. Judge Richard Berman understood this and we are greatly appreciative of his thoughtful decision that was delivered today. Now, we can return our focus to the game on the field.”
Patriots fans’ have been using Twitter to share their opinions on today’s announcement. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh tweeted, “Now … Let’s get to football!” Governor Charlie Baker also contributed to the national conversation when he tweeted, “No suspension – Tom Brady gets to play football. I’m glad it’s over and I agree with the Judge’s decision.”
Most Patriots fans have reached their capacity of dealing with the “Deflategate” scandal. With the decision ending this long argument, Patriots and football fans across the nation are looking forward to getting back to football. The Patriots open their season next Thursday night in Foxborough at Gillette Stadium against the Pittsburgh Steelers. This year’s season opener doubles as a celebration of last year’s Super Bowl win with the raising of the championship banner in the stadium.
Now, hopefully, this is the last time we will talk about deflated footballs, at least for a little while. On to the season opener!