With Tom Brady’s Deflategate suspension being reinstated by the U.S. Court of Appeals yesterday, Roger Goodell’s power to impose discipline was reasserted to a degree even he may find harrowing.
The case itself is no longer about the Patriots’ alleged deflating of footballs before the 2014 AFC Championship Game, which there is little evidence more than circumstance and which science disagrees with the National Football League on. (Though with doctors like Elliot Pellman still being employed the NFL still has a shoddy relationship with science regardless). The case is now about whether or not Roger Goodell has the right to impose discipline however and whenever he pleases or, as Dan Wetzel likened it, act like a God.
According to the judges who ruled in favor of the NFL, the Players Association bargained the right to a fair trial away in the 2011 CBA when they gave Goodell the power to act as a neutral arbiter and impose discipline however he pleases. Even if Tom Brady did nothing wrong, which the evidence says he didn’t, it doesn’t matter.
If Goodell wanted to suspend Cam Newton for his post-Super Bowl press conference, he could have done that. If he wants to suspend Brady for 4 games for deflating footballs even if the CBA dictates that a normal punishment for deflating footballs , is equivalent to the punishment for using stickum (an $8,268 fine), per Wetzel’s column, he can do that. If he decides that the Patriots deflating footballs with an assist from the Ideal Gas Law was so much worse than the Panthers and Vikings warming balls on the sidelines in November of the same season that Brady should be suspended, the Pats should be fined $1 million and have draft picks taken, he can do that.
And if the reason New England’s infraction was much more important than Carolina’s was because the owners were mad at him over Spygate and he needed to make it up to them, it doesn’t matter. According to the decision, the NFL can throw away logic, reason, science and fairness if they so please, a right they have fully exercised in the case of the New England Patriots.