I just feel bad for the Cleveland Browns.
They’ll host the New England Patriots in Week 5, Sunday Oct. 9 at 1 p.m. on CBS. It will also be Tom Brady’s first game of the season, thanks to the four-game Deflategate suspension that he accepted last week.
The Browns will feel Brady’s wrath, for sure, as he begins his own personal warpath through the NFL. All for the ultimate goal: to make sure Roger Goodell is handing him the Lombardi Trophy in Houston on Feb. 5.
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Look, it’s way too early for NFL season predictions, never mind playoff and Super Bowl predictions. But will there ever be anyone more motivated than Brady will be this season, beginning Week 5 in Cleveland?
The Patriots already use bulletin-board material better than anyone else in the history of sports. The fact that one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time has to sit out four games because of the air pressure in a football is infuriating. And I’m not even on the team. So, you can only imagine how Brady is feeling.
Let’s make something clear. One emotion he is not feeling is guilt. The idea that his acceptance of the four-game Deflategate suspension is an “admission of guilt” is downright laughable. Had Brady been admitting any type of guilt, he would have rolled over after the initial suspension was handed out. But he didn’t, and last time I checked, he actually won his appeal, and Judge Richard Berman vacated his suspension. Then, when the NFL won its appeal and had his suspension reinstated, Brady was denied a request for a rehearing.
So there’s really only one legal option left, and that’s to try and take the case to the Supreme Court. According to the latest reports, Brady has authorized the NFLPA to try and do just that. Except, Brady himself won’t be involved. But by no means is that an admission of guilt.
Do you really think that if Brady’s all-star team of lawyers told him he had a chance to win and get the suspension vacated again once and for all, he would just fold up shop and say, “Nah, that’s OK guys. This isn’t a battle worth fighting anymore.” I mean, if you believe that, you just haven’t been paying attention.
It’s clear that Brady’s people have told him this thing was all but done, and that the NFL — as unfair as it is — is going to win the fight to protect the commissioner’s rights in the CBA. And unfortunately, Article 46 is a real thing. The ability to be the judge, jury and executioner is a power that Goodell actually has. And as pathetic as it may be, he’s utilized those powers to the best of his ability in this situation, one that revolves around the air pressure in footballs.
Brady’s only real option was to move on to the 2016 season. By doing so, he hands the car keys to Jimmy Garoppolo for the first four weeks of the regular season. The schedule? Week 1 in Arizona, Week 2 at home against Miami, Week 3 at home against Housto, and Week 4 at home against Buffalo. That’s right, only one road game for the Patriots’ backup quarterback.
The only thing that we know for sure is that Brady will be playing Week 5 in Cleveland. He won’t be performing with a guilty conscience. He won’t be needing air-pressure adjustments with the footballs. He’ll just be out there slinging, as a quarterback who’s been dragged through the mud for something so stupid, not even Greg Hardy can comprehend how he and Brady served the same number of games suspended.
Brady isn’t guilty. He’s on a mission. And that mission begins in Week 5.
I’m just not sure what the Browns did to deserve that.
Listen to “The Danny Picard Show” every weekday at dannypicard.com & on iTunes. Danny can also be heard weekends on WEEI 93.7 FM. Follow him on Twitter @DannyPicard