Roger Goodell has squashed a lot of people in the past, but he may have bitten off more than he can chew with Tom Brady.
Indeed, many people are coming after the NFL commissioner, arguing that he and his lawyers didn’t have enough evidence to warrant Brady’s four-game suspension. Heck, some are even saying Brady was framed.
Given all that, is it possible that the NFL will back down and reach a settlement with Brady before the Aug. 31 deadline?
“Well, it’s a great question,” Bleacher Report NFL columnist Mike Freeman said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I don’t think Brady was framed, but I’ve been really on one side. I’ve been very hard on Brady. I thought for sure that he was involved in this. My assurance, my conviction has waned, because it just looks very, very odd, some things that have happened.”
“The floating of the PSI footballs,” Freeman said. “That was clearly wrong and clearly floated to influence guys like you and me in the media, things like that. If you really have Brady, you don’t need to do that. Now, I find it hard to believe Brady is completely innocent – and this will sound weird, but I didn’t think he’s completely guilty. I think there’s probably some middle ground, but to answer your question, there’s no way they’re going to (agree to) a settlement. I could be wrong, but they are so entrenched and behind this and really believe. They really believe that he did this and they believe the Wells Report. So that’s where they are.”
Doug Gottlieb believes there’s a lot riding on U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman’s decision – not just with Brady, but in terms of the NFL’s ability to punish players in the future. If Berman throws out the suspension entirely, it’s an awful look for the NFL. As a result, perhaps Goodell has incentive to relent, no?
“Here’s the problem with that,” Freeman said. “They appealed and they go to the higher court and the higher court is even supposedly more of a certainty for the NFL. The higher court is very conservative. But your overall point is correct, though. Your overall point is right. If you’re the NFL, at some point do you just cut your losses? But that’s not how they think. As you outlined, they are so into the process and so into Goodell having the final authority and power that if they walk out on it now, it weakens that. Now if they lose, of course it weakens that. But they don’t think they’re going to lose. So they’re going to keep going forward.
“This thing could go on for a long time,” Freeman continued. “It’s possible that Berman has some sort of stay where he lets Brady play the first four games as this winds through, but if the NFL loses, they’ll appeal. If Brady loses, there’s a good chance he may appeal. So this could be going on for awhile, and I’m telling you: The NFL doesn’t care about optics. They don’t care what we say. They’re going to come forward on this because they want to win this.”