I am a social sports fan, with every team sport except baseball and swimming. That is, I follow other sports simply to deflect needless peer pressure to show an interest in socially acceptable team sports. Today, we hear that Tom Brady's perennial four-game suspension for, um, something, has been reinstated by a three-judge panel of the Second US Court of Appeals.
As a social sports fan, then, here is my message to the teams, the courts, the NFL, and all actual fans of pro football everywhere:
For different reasons, this seems to be the court's message too. Even before this decision, the Second US Court of Appeals had a reputation as the most pro-business, anti-union court in the country. It appears that this panel of that court has upheld that reputation. The court doesn't care a rat's ass whether Brady actually committed an offence: they said as much in the decision. They only care about upholding Roger Goodell's rights under the collective bargaining agreement. The numerous fans and players of other teams who are no doubt cheering the decision ought to read it twice. The substance is that the NFL commissioner can punish any player, on any team, for any reason, or possibly for no reason, just because the player's union lawyers were bargaining pushovers. Roger Goodell now is confirmed in rights that no English monarch, for example, has enjoyed in some 400 years, rights that Donald Trump would have wet dreams about. These rights are not given to just any boss, but to an individual running an organisation with more money and more power than many countries.
The cheering yahoos and players need to realise that this was never about Brady, or his guilt or innocence. If the appeals process goes on until Brady is 50 or so, to the point at which the penalty is moot, it will never be about Brady's guilt. Goodell simply picked the biggest target to show what a tough guy he is.
One of the reasons I can't gin up a lot of profound interest in pro football is, by coincidence, coming up just as this insanely pro-business decision is announced. We appear to have another domestic violence indictment against an NFL player. Johnny Manziel, who should have finished college, isn't as much of a target as Brady. What I will watch with interest isn't the games this fall, but whether Manziel will get the customary two-game suspension for violence against women. I suspect we'll have to see whether Rockin' Roger wins his tilt against his favourite windmill.