Tom Brady will play opening day

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With a federal court ruling, the NFL got exactly what many observers of the league had predicted: Tom Brady would have Commissioner Roger Goodell’s four-game suspension thrown out. After all the hand-wringing when Goodell announced Brady’s punishment, we will see the current Super Bowl MVP get the start on opening day for the New England Patriots, September 10 when they face the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Judge Richard Berman basically said what many had been saying since the NFL’s botched investigation was concluded: there was no evidence Tom Brady was guilty of anything connected to the under-inflated footballs found in the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Call this another failure by the offices of Commissioner Roger Goodell. With the botched response to the issues with traumatic brain injuries, to the uneven and mostly laughable punishments for players caught beating their wives and children to the “bounty” scandal with the New Orleans Saints, the NFL under Roger Goodell has been an era of embarrassment.

He makes $40 million a year at a time when league profits for all teams as well as the league itself are at an all-time high. Roger Goodell has been good for the league’s wallet, but it has also become one of the enduring punchlines of even the most hackneyed comedians.

Ever since news of the under-inflated balls broke, speculation about how it happened, who was involved and some very funny jokes have swirled around the NFL. Rumors and outright falsehoods were unleashed on the public nearly every day when the investigation was taking place — and Patriots owner Robert Kraft, among others, accused the league office of leaking the rumors. Once the investigation, led by Ted Wells, was complete, it was clear the league had no evidence Tom Brady was guilty. But, Goodell and the league insisted the super star quarterback — the most popular player in the NFL — be punished for his unproven role in the scandal.

If the league and Roger Goodell have the inclination, they can still appeal to a higher court, but it is unlikely any court will take the time to review the evidence — or lack thereof — in this case.

Now the question is: with Goodell on the losing end of a scandal once again, after Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, the New Orleans Saints; the embarrassment over the concussions issue, a player killing his girlfriend and then himself — will the owners of the NFL keep Roger Goodell as their commissioner?

He once had universal support from the league, but there could be a shift in that. On the other hand, he has been good for the teams and the league when it comes to making huge profits, so maybe money will trump all other considerations. For the NFL winning is all about the bottom line.

 (Photo by Claudia Gestro)