First and foremost please, please read the title carefully. I'm not saying a Tom Brady suspension is a good thing. The words "might not be so terrible" still definitely imply that it's bad. But now that a week has gone by since the "suspension back on" news, I'm ready to write about it and I've decided to take an optimistic angle.
So if Tom Brady's suspension actually does stick this time around, here's one potential silver lining for each of the four games he'll miss (in reverse order of importance):
1. We'll get an opportunity to see if Jimmy Garrapolo is any good, which might be worth figuring out sooner rather than later. Brady will be 39 years old by the time the season starts and chances are he's not actually going to play until he's 45.
2. As I mentioned, Brady turns 39 in August. A shortened, 12-game regular season could be exactly what he needs, just ask Peyton Manning. Or Roger Clemens, for that matter.
3. Last season, New England busted out of the gates, but faded down the stretch and fell in the AFC title game (similar to what happened with the 2007 edition that went 16-0 but lost the Super Bowl).
Two years ago the Patriots started slowly, then got hot and won the Super Bowl (as did the 2001 squad that began the season 3-4). The same is true for a number of other recent NFL champs, including both Giants teams that beat New England. The point is, early season struggles don't matter--putting it all together for the playoffs does.
4. The reason the Pats were so good early on last year was because of the massive chip on Brady's shoulder. That was after his suspension was nullified. Imagine the fire that will burn inside of him if he's actually forced to sit out the first quarter of the season?
Watch out, NFL.