I'll get back to the headline in a bit. But first, here are my initial reactions to the Tom Brady ruling in order of relevance:
1. More than anything, it still blows my mind that this whole thing became what it did. A minor sports report that should've disappeared after a week or two somehow elevated to social movement status and the No. 1 national news story.
2. I'm kind of amazed by the common local fan attitude that Brady and/or the Patriots did nothing wrong. All along, I've felt that Brady and the Pats probably knew exactly what they were doing, but that it just wasn't a very big deal--and that's what the judge's ruling means. He's not saying they didn't do anything, just that the NFL's reaction to it was ridiculous and unjust.
3. The league will appeal the decision. Why? The longer this drags out, the worse it looks for Roger Goodell. Why does he want Brady suspended? Everything is better for the NFL with Brady playing. I get why Goodell had to put up a fight so the other owners didn't think he was in Bob Kraft's pocket, but now he's already done that. He has the perfect excuse/lifeline to say it's been taken out of his hands, so why not take advantage of that?
I shouldn't really be surprised though, both sides decided long ago they weren't backing down no matter what, and Goodell is just staying the course.
4. Allegedly the appeal will take a minimum of 10 months. It could be years. How funny would it be to see Brady suspended after he retires?
OK, now back to my main point.
Before today's ruling, the Patriots had the fifth-best odds of any team in the league to win the Super Bowl (despite evidence suggesting they were a lock to get there). Now, New England is a co-favorite along with Green Bay and Seattle.
As I've discussed before, gambling odds are just a reflection of how people bet, not a team's actual chances of winning. Regardless, I think the Pats are now less likely to win Super Bowl 50 than they were before.
All over TV today, I saw people talking about the chip Brady will have on his shoulder one week from today when he takes the field for opening night. That's true, but it'll be nothing compared to to the chip he could've had when he returned from a suspension.
A suspended Brady would've come back with the fire of a thousand suns in his eyes, looking to eviscerate everything in his path. Now he's already had an enormous victory, and there's no possible way he'll have quite the same drive. Isn't that worth a lot more than a potential game or two difference in the regular season standings?
One final though: How amazing would it be to see this in the Pats last preseason game tonight?
Great idea Tony Kornheiser: Brady should take one snap tonight, then immediately spike the ball & walk off the field w/ his fist in the air.— Mark Vandeusen (@LucidSportsFan) September 3, 2015