News broke this morning that Tom Brady had won his appeal in Federal Court and his four game suspension was overturned. With that ruling by Judge Richard Berman, Brady is eligible to play in all 16 regular season games for New England and will not lose any game checks.
The news is fantastic for New England, a team with an opening stretch that includes trips to Buffalo and Dallas. The Patriots season kicks off next Thursday night in the league opening game, they will be facing the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The ruling does not necessarily mean that this unfortunate saga is over yet. The NFL could choose to appeal to a Second Circuit Court, at which point Brady could still play while a legal battle was being fought. The only requirement for Brady in that situation would be to get a court order stating he can play while the appeal is being heard, a tactic that would be easy given that he has already won.
Second year quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo would have been the starter had Brady been suspended. He will now continue his role as backup and potential successor to Brady. New England would’ve had to change their offense slightly if Garoppolo had been the starter. A second year quarterback who has never started could not be expected to have the mastery of New England’s playbook that Brady does. With Brady back, everything should be full go for September 10.
This decision should also provide some relief to coaches and teammates. They have been the ones having to answer the questions throughout the past seven months and although there will still be some questions, they will fade over the next few weeks and the players have positive news regarding the situation to discuss. The coaching staff also has more certainty while preparing for Pittsburgh.
Although this may not be the complete end to a PSI scandal in which a molehill was turned into Mount Everest, a major step towards ending it all was taken this morning. The ball (fully inflated, one would assume) is now in the NFL’s court. They have a choice: to appeal and continue the process or to finally put all of this to rest. Given how much pride resides in the league office, one can’t predict what Park Avenue will do.