It has been seven years since Tom Brady missed a game, and it looks like that streak is no longer in jeopardy.
The New England Patriots quarterback’s four-game suspension has been overturned by Judge Richard Berman and the United States District Court, meaning he’ll be able to suit up for the Pats season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers next Thursday.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter has the news:
The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin offered a glimpse of Berman’s 40-page ruling, as well as the three main reasons Brady and the NFLPA came out victorious:
Here’s a look at the complete text of the ruling:
The decision puts an end to the “deflategate” controversy, which has raged on for more than seven months. Well, maybe. As Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio pointed out on Monday, when Berman had yet to come to an official ruling, the loser–in this case, the NFL–can still appeal the decision at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, where the case would be overheard by a panel of three judges. According to Florio, the NFL, which “has no willingness to do anything other than push its position as aggressively as humanly possible,” would be likely to pursue that route.
Gary Myers of the New York Daily News offers another reason why the NFL would presumably choose to continue the appeal process:
Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole believes the NFL will indeed appeal:
Nevertheless, the Patriots–at least for the time being–can plan on having their two-time MVP and future Hall-of-Famer under center when the regular season starts. That means the Steelers will get their wish from a month ago.
“Yes, of course,” said Pittsburgh defensive end Cam Heyward when asked in July if he wanted Brady to play Week 1. “The competitor in you wants to see the best team out there and why not beat Tom Brady in Gillette Stadium on a Thursday night game?”
Brady didn’t look all that sharp this preseason, but he was also running a vanilla offense without Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell. With all of those pieces back in place, minus the injured LaFell for now, the Patriots offense should operate at its typically efficient level.
It will be interesting to see how this ruling affects how suspensions are handled in the future–specifically, will players now be more likely to appeal and prolong the process via the court system?–but for the present, it means one very important thing: For the first quarter of the season, the man in charge of orchestrating the Pats’ offense will have 8,253 career attemptsunder his belt, and not 27.
That puts the defending Super Bowl champs back atop the AFC hierarchy.