The Supreme Court of the United States has bigger fish to fry. Of course, there’s a chance SCOTUS grants Tom Brady’s appeal. About five percent of appeals to the highest court in the land are granted, and a high-profile case like this one might be tempting.
But the reality is that this might be the best time for Brady and the NFLPA to accept that they’re fighting a losing battle and potentially doing more harm than good.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals denied a petition by Brady and the Players Association to rehear his suspension case. As of this moment, he’s slated to be suspended for the first four games of the 2016 NFL regular season for his role in Deflategate.
Brady could still request a stay from the Second Circuit Court or from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. But that is far from a guarantee, and could even come back to haunt him if the Supreme Court ultimately decides this fall not to accept the case.
That could result in Brady being suspended in December or January, rather than in September.
Brady’s chances of succeeding are fading fast. The appeals process has focused not on whether the suspension was fair, but rather if commissioner Roger Goodell possesses the power to render the punishment in question. By all indications, the collective bargaining agreement allows Goodell to suspend Brady for violating the NFL policy on the integrity of the game.
An appeals panel in April stated that Goodell “properly exercised his broad discretion under the collective bargaining agreement.”
Dropping it all, right now, might be Brady’s most prudent strategy. The court of public opinion has already rendered its verdicts and the NFL has yet another black eye. This is no longer about proving a point, because that’s been accomplished. This battle is now solely about Brady trying to avoid having to miss four games. But if he keeps fighting, he risks taking an image hit of his own while also increasing the risk of hurting his own team.
Jimmy Garoppolo is a capable young quarterback. Three of New England’s first four games come at home. They might not have been expected to win on the road at Arizona Week 1 regardless of who’s at quarterback. Beyond that, they host Miami, Houston and Buffalo. They can win two of those games without Brady, which means there’s a chance this suspension costs them zero wins, maybe one. Worst case, two. And this is a team that has won its division by at least two games in six consecutive seasons.
Plus, Brady — who faded down the stretch last season and is now the oldest position player in the NFL — could benefit from pulling a Roger Clemens and taking the first quarter of the regular season off.
Point being, this whole thing could be a blessing in disguise, especially if the perception of an unfair punishment lights a fire under Brady and his teammates. It’s possible that extra jolt of energy produces an extra win or two during the final three months of the year and the team ends up benefiting from this whole thing.
So why keep pushing? Why risk dragging all involved names further through the mud when the odds are now stacked against you? Why do that when there’s a chance this suspension doesn’t cost you or your team anything in the short or long run?
It’s just not worth it. Time to let this whole ordeal die. We’ve all been through enough, and the risk/reward dynamics no longer appear to favor Brady or his supporters.
It’s, like, 4th-and-35. You have to punt.