Today was yet another example of why you don’t do your fantasy draft until after big news like this happens. All those guys that got Tom Brady late are suddenly sitting on a Week 1 starter that’s going to produce top 5 numbers the rest of the season. But that’s not what we’re here to talk about today.
We’re here to talk about everyone that got screwed by this decision, because there were a lot of people that had a lot of stake in Tom Brady missing four games, maybe even two games, and the Patriots not being at full strength at quarterback for 25% of their season. So let’s see who’s scrambling and backpedaling with the NFL season one week away:
Goodell has been the ultimate bad guy since he became commissioner of the NFL. You know why he’s the ultimate bad guy? Because his goal isn’t to create chaos. He isn’t personal financial gain. His goal is to increase his power and his justification isn’t, “I like power.” His justification is making the NFL (… THE WORLD!) a better place; all thanks to him.
But he’s done a terrible job because in his journey to “protect the shield,” instead of highlighting things that are bad and changing the culture, he’s just tried to cover them up (Ray Rice), issuing punishments without evidence (bountygate), issuing punishments without precedent (Adrian Peterson), and issuing punishments for rules that players didn’t know about (Tom Brady).
Now, finally, Goodell’s shield is broken. Federal courts support the players association in saying that he can’t just operate outside labor laws and punish players however he wants, whenever he wants, for any reason he wants. He’s a big joke. For a league that literally prints money on a level unsurpassed by any other American sports, that can only be compared to other major American enterprises, he’s easily the worst commissioner we’ve ever had.
The No. 1 joke target of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore has been Bill Cosby. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are easily in 2nd place. Wilmore isn’t the team’s only critic, but the jokes have been coming since his show premiered. He hilariously dedicated a segment to calling out Tom Brady as a cheater before the Super Bowl.
By no means do I think Wilmore is the only one here going after Brady. There have been a lot of critics across all media. Wilmore’s just been the most entertaining, which is why I hope he addresses the Brady issue when his show comes back. Wilmore could’ve easily made fun of Brady’s press conference and poor responses, but calling him a cheater is going really far. The air pressure of NFL footballs is set at an arbitrary number and has far less to do with the outcome of any game than what Brady’s detractors might think.
So there it is. Scientific evidence that the inflation of the football has almost nothing to do with the outcome of any given play or game. It’s just a matter of personal preference for the quarterback. So even if Tom Brady did orchestrate a plan to under-inflate the balls (WHICH THE NFL HAS NO PROOF OF), it didn’t matter. And now he’s free of facing any consequences from the NFL.
The Pittsburgh Steelers
Last year, the Steelers were just one game away from a bye in the first week of the playoffs and getting to play anyone other than a heated division rival that seems to get their number at the worst times. Instead, they had to host the Baltimore Ravens in Round 1 of the playoffs and they got beat. Knowing how much every game counts, no matter when it happens during the season, the Steelers were likely loving the idea of facing a Brady-less Patriots team to start off the season and then getting some extra rest (opening the season on a Thursday night) before going on with the rest of their season.
Now that Brady is in, the odds have shifted and now they’re going to face the most hostile crowd and team they’ll see all year as they go into Gillette Stadium to face a team that wants to destroy every team they play, starting with them.
Admit it, Cowboys haters. You were picturing it. You’d had it in your head since you put two and two together and realized that Dallas would be the last team that the Patriots would face before they got Tom Brady back. No matter how well or poorly the Cowboys were doing up to that point, the team and their fans would quietly but confidently think to themselves, “We got this one!”
And then disaster. The Cowboys would lose to a Patriots team led by a quarterback you’ve never heard of. Dallas would be the laughing stock of the NFL. “You couldn’t beat the Patriots without Brady? The best quarterback playing for the Patriots was actually Tony Romo! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”
Now the dream is dead. Sure, New England is going to win that game in Week 5 now. But it just won’t be as fun, will it?
The Miami Dolphins
Miami isn’t scheduled to play the Patriots until Week 8. But the Dolphins came into this season thinking that this could be a banner year for them. Literally, a banner year; as in hanging a banner to signify their success in 2015. With the team scoring Ndamukung Suh in free agency to turn the Dolphins into one of the most formidable defenses in the NFL and the offense retooling, preparing for Ryan Tannehill to take the next step after signing him to a long term contract, a couple of possible losses by the Patriots early in the season thanks to a suspended Tom Brady had Miami fans not just think playoffs, but maybe a division title!
Now, that’s probably not going to happen. Sure the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets losses to the Pats early in the season will establish a clear tier among the four teams in the division, but the reigning champs are in New England and there’s little getting in the way. And there isn’t much that any Patriots victories throughout the season are going to do to help Miami’s playoff aspirations. Sure it’s early to look at the schedule and forecast the future, but look at the dearth of contenders the Super Bowl champs have on their schedule:
The Patriots only play three games against teams that made the playoffs last season. They only play six games total against teams that had a winning record in 2014.
So much for the help.
Your Social Media Feed (If You’re Not a Patriots Fan)
Today was just the start. Get ready for a full season of this. May God be with you.
Meanwhile, in Boston pic.twitter.com/9WIzeuYVDK
— GQ Magazine (@GQMagazine) September 3, 2015
but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM! pic.twitter.com/gZKzxw5a0O
— Dan Worthington (@danWorthington) September 3, 2015
Photos courtesy Jim Rogash/Getty Images; Andrew Burton/Getty Images; Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images; Tom Hauck/AP; Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images