A casual remark from Commissioner Roger Goodell to CNBC two weeks ago created widespread anticipation last week for a potential ruling on the appeal of Tom Brady’s four-game suspension.
As a new week begins, a source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that the Brady camp expects a ruling this week.
Goodell has had post-hearing briefs from the league and the NFL Players Association for more than two weeks, and the coming week will be the last one before the launch of training camps.
The source describes the anticipated outcome as a “sham,” with litigation to promptly follow.
The question then becomes whether Brady and the NFLPA will seek a preliminary injunction aimed at allowing Brady to keep playing while the litigation proceeds. Which would make Brady available for the Thursday night opener against the Steelers, even if he eventually serves a suspension.
The challenge for Goodell will be selecting a suspension that compares favorably to the four-game suspension imposed via the league’s internal appeal processes on Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy nine days ago. If Brady’s suspension remains at four games, Goodell will absorb intense criticism from every angle and perspective for equating general, circumstantial knowledge of a vague cheating scandal to domestic violence. Dropping the suspension to two games will still result in criticism, but perhaps not as intense.
Getting rid of the suspension would make Patriots fans very happy, but it could unleash a firestorm from those who root for the other 31 teams, along with real questions about why a white franchise quarterback got relief from “The Enforcer” when so few other players can.
With no one ever criticizing Goodell when he imposes a suspension that someone else reduces or eliminates and with the pitchforks-and-torches crowd calling for Goodell’s job after the general public concluded he didn’t go far enough with Ray Rice, it will be a shock if the suspension goes from four games to no games.
Which means that #DeflateGate will continue to linger, for weeks and possibly months to come.