Editor's note: Tune in to "But Seriously" on CSN Bay Area when Ray Ratto and San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami discuss the Tom Brady suspension and the aftermath -- today at 5 & 11 p.m.
Yes! The NFL held the line on Tom Brady! And yes, Tom Brady’s lawyer is expected to sue the NFL! The world of sporting discipline is being curb-stomped, and it’s Christmas in America!
Roger Goodell, the Ginger Hand Puppet, decided to make this the ground on which to test his power as dean of students. And now we have to hope that Brady is as good as his leaked word and that he takes the league to court.
And then wins.
Not because we are necessarily pro-deflation, or that we think Brady is even remotely close to clean on the issue. He has to win this because Roger Goodell can’t do discipline any longer. He’s lousy at it, he’s bungled case after case, he’s defended the notion that precedent means nothing, he’s curried favor with some owners and ignored others, and in all ways has turned this part of his job into a political goat-rope.
In other words, he can’t be trusted to do discipline, and if a commissioner’s job isn’t to convince the customers that he is even at least mildly on the up-and-up, the job should be outsourced.
And this is an issue upon which the league is unwilling to budge. There is, after all, no value in being a dictator if you have to hire temps to handle the purges.
There will be considerable pressure on Brady to cave for the good of the game, although very often “the good of the game” is interpreted by those in power to mean “the good of whoever I am at the time.” He likely won’t have the public support of his owner, Bob Kraft, because Kraft is one of The 32, and being powerful isn’t the same as being immune to the power of others. He may not even have the public support of his coach, Bill Belichick, because Belichick hasn’t exactly been of full throat in his defense of the problem.
But Brady is Brady, damn it, and even though the word “legacy” is absurdly overmisused, he cares about it no matter how it is defined, and he is going to defend his good name no matter how necessarily good it now happens to be.
Plus, he doesn’t have the multifaceted problem Goodell has in this, or all the other discipline problems that come his way. He has defended his right to be the sole judge and given no reason why he should have that right save “The players didn’t object to it when we were beating them bloody during the last CBA.”
In other words, he is as useful as a crossing guard with no sign or orange vest. And if he wins the day on Brady, it means that player discipline may as well be run by Liberty Valance for all the good it’ll do.
Besides, the damage to Brady and the Patriots has already been done. Their reputations are set. But so is Goodell’s. This isn’t even about their legacies -- Brady is a great quarterback, not unlike Joe Montana. The Patriots are a powerful team that giggles at rules, not unlike the Oakland Raiders. And Goodell is a less-personable and more easily ridiculed version of Paul Tagliabue.
There’s your legacy lineup.
No, this is about who should be providing the pretense of consistency in a league that runs on frontier justice. We’re not sure who should have the job (Vladimir Putin isn’t exactly telegenic, especially when he’s riding shirtless on a horse, for example) and we’re not even sure who would fund the job (the players union and owners should share the cost, but somehow we suspect the owners would try to keep the control while passing the bills onto the union) but we are sure it shouldn’t be Roger Goodell or any of his associate wizards, lackeys and sycophants.
So let’s play our game. Brady v. Goodell, in Federal Court, with a guest opinion for Fox News from Antonin Scalia, translated into English by John Oliver. Come on America, let’s par-tay!