Deflate Gate: How the NFL Will Benefit from Controversy
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is many things.
Arrogant, Self-serving, sexist, are just a few adjectives that come to mind, but he is not stupid.
He rose from administrative intern under Pete Rozelle in 1982 to the NFL's Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Office in 2001 and finally to NFL Commissioner in 2006.
With a degree in economics, Goodell is a businessman and has traditionally had an uncanny ability to spin a story to exactly the way he wants it.
Goodell certainly wasn't able to do that last season. No PR man would be able to withstand what America and the rest of the world witnessed on the Ray Rice elevator recording.
The commissioner, however, is back to his old tricks as he suspended Patriots quarterback Tom Brady four games for at least being "generally aware of the inappropriate activities" that two members of the New England equipment staff, Jim McNally and John Jastremski "more likely than not" performed.
Brady plans to appeal the suspension according to NFL.com.
In the past, such an act of cheating certainly hurt a sport in the eyes of the public. Steroid use killed the reputation of major league baseball 10 years ago and is still an ongoing issue. It also destroyed feel good stories such as Lance Armstrong in cycling.
Of course, in many ways it is unfair to compare the act of deflating a football to taking performance-enhancing drugs, but for all intents and purposes, both are against the rulebook and are, therefore, some form of cheating. Grading which one is worse is silly because both violate the rules (except during the era in which the MLB did not have a drug policy).
But it became clear Monday that the NFL will "more likely than not" benefit from one of its most recognizable players cheating.
Truthfully, no matter what Goodell did with Brady in terms of punishment, fans weren't going to be satisfied. He was either going to angry the Patriots faithful and hand down an extremely harsh penalty, which he did, or angry the New England "haters", turning a blind eye while once again being accused of favoring the Patriots due to his relationship with owner Robert Kraft.
Sounds like a lose-lose. But is it?
The NFL loses its No. 1 star for the Patriots home opener, which will be the NFL's opening game, but in exchange, Goodell and the league will receive compliments from the national media for "cracking down on cheaters" and “maintaining the integrity of the game”.
So what if Boston hates Goodell? No Patriots fan will be mad enough to not watch the team without Brady playing. And the national crowd turned off due to Brady’s absence will likely be minimal too.
But in return, the NFL gets an even higher than usual hyped up Week 6 matchup between the Colts and Patriots. That's right. If the NFL upholds his suspension, Brady will return in Week 6 when the Patriots travel to Indianapolis to take on their accusers.
If this were a movie script, they would throw it out because it would be deemed too unrealistic.
That Sunday night matchup already had intrigue, but if it is also Brady's first game back from suspension, it could be the most hyped up game of the year.
Many fans, myself included, have criticized Goodell for his arbitrary punishments over the years. Perhaps we should start giving him a little bit more credit.
It's May; the NHL and NBA playoffs are heating up and the MLB schedule is in full swing, yet the biggest sports story on Monday, whether fans agreed with the punishment or not, was Brady's suspension.
And it will probably be the biggest sports story this week, which would explain why the NFL chose to release the suspension news on Monday. It will be talked about the rest of the week.
Goodell isn't as dumb as fans think.
After all, this isn't the first time he turned a suspension into another way to market the league. Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy's 10-game suspension seemed arbitrary too until one took a glance at Dallas' Week 12 opponent.
It's Hardy's former team: the Carolina Panthers.