In a statement released after the announcement of a one-game suspension on Thursday, Broncos safety T.J. Ward said that he takes “full responsibility” for the 2014 incident at a Denver strip club that led to the suspension and that he’s “willing to accept the consequences” of his actions.
That doesn’t mean Ward is thrilled about the league’s decision. Through a plea arrangement that called for him to do community service, the misdemeanor assault and disturbing the peace charges against Ward for allegedly throwing a mug at a bartender were dropped and that doesn’t sit right with the safety.
“I feel it’s really unfair,” Ward said, via the Denver Post. “I’m getting punished for being accused of doing something. Not doing something, but being accused. And I’ve got to pay the consequences.”
When Ward was asked why he thinks he was suspended, he invoked the name of the Patriots quarterback whose suspension was thrown out by Judge Richard Berman earlier on Thursday.
“My last name’s not Brady,” Ward said.
There are myriad differences between the two cases and Ward’s not the first player to be suspended without being convicted of a crime, but dropping Tom Brady’s name into the conversation is an easy way to build on the stiff rebuke of the way NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wields his power that Berman issued earlier in the day.
It doesn’t look like this case is headed to federal court, so the Broncos will probably just have to play without Ward for the opening week of the season. It probably won’t be the last time we’re reminded of the eroded confidence in Goodell and the NFL’s disciplinary policies as a result of their handling of the Brady suspension, though.