Roger Goodell and the NFL punished Tom Brady on Monday.
Now it’s time for Brady to punish Goodell and the NFL by retiring from the game.
That’s right. Barring a severely-reduced suspension via appeal, Brady should ride off into the sunset and toward an early retirement. The most successful quarterback in league history should say in no uncertain terms that Goodell is the reason he’s leaving.
He can’t be suspended under Goodell’s arbitrary rules if he’s not playing any more, can he?
You may dismiss this a hot take, but the there’s no such thing when you’re dealing with a NFL commissioner whose approach to discipline has been one long hot take. Seriously, read my colleague Frank Schwab’s expert vivisection of the four-game suspension that Brady unjustly received and tell me the quarterback should take his medicine like a good boy. There aren’t many players that could take on Goodell’s “next man up” system of wayward justice and win in the court of public opinion, but Brady tops the small handful. He might even have enough juice to cost Goodell his job.
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Judging by the immediate reaction to Monday’s ruling, Brady would have a majority on his side if he held his career over Goodell’s head.
What does he have to lose? Brady is 37 years old and is coming off his fourth Super Bowl title in six tries. He’s made untold millions, is regarded as one of the best quarterbacks of all time and has a beautiful family with a Brazilian supermodel. He should have a long and successful post-career path ahead of him.
Why not pull a Jordan (the first and second times, anyway) and head out at the top? It certainly beats playing an unwilling role in the NFL offseason hype machine that’s going to steamroll its way through the appeals process and straight into Brady’s return — a Sunday night game that’s oh-so-conveniently scheduled against the Indianapolis Colts team he supposedly wronged.
Quit and the irreplaceable Brady becomes a hero to all the NFL players who are consistently told they’re replaceable by the league and left vulnerable by the weakest of professional player unions.
Quit and Brady leaves Goodell with the stain of chasing off one of the all-time greats through a foolish and ill-considered ruling. The drama is almost too much for any sports fan to consider. (Brady might not have many fans among the other 31 fanbases, but can you imagine if he took Goodell down? It’s the one nationwide popularity contest he wins in a landslide.)
Patriots owner Robert Kraft, one of the league’s most powerful chiefs, is already mad at ol’ Raj, but there’s no way the commissioner would survive Brady’s self-sacrifice. Talent, after all, has proven to be the one consistent truth in the NFL and god forbid a commissioner get in the way of the NFL’s established formular for riches.
I can hear the counter-arguments out there.
“Brady’s a cheater, there’s no way he can retire under a cloud of shame.”
Eh, the people who held deflate-gate against Brady have already made up their minds and would’ve held that opinion whether he was suspended one, four or 16 games. If the fact that other quarterbacks regularly doctor balls hasn’t lessened their hate, Brady going 9-3 and reaching another Super Bowl sure won’t.
“Brady is still in tremendous shape and still has plenty of great football to play.”
OK, that one holds a lot of merit. And as a football fan, it’ll hurt not to watch him chase titles any more. But as mentioned above, Brady has already accomplished a lot. Why continue a career in a league ruled by a man who just tainted your reputation and took $2 million out of your pocket over an issue he’s never taken seriously before this storyline was invented to fill an empty week before the Super Bowl?
Roger Goodell exercised his power.
Now it’s time for Tom Brady to exercise his.
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