I know you all hate the Patriots, particularly that scoundrel Tom Brady, with his multiple championship rings and swimsuit model wife; ugh, you just want to punch his smug face when you see it in those high end fashion advertisements. You really can’t believe that guy is “getting away with it” now that a judge has overturned his Deflate Gate suspension. I know, he’s rich, good-looking and things always seem to go his way and that drives you nuts because… well, because you’ve got serious credit card debt and haven’t sleep with anything above a “5” since college. You were denied your pound of flesh but you really should be glad, because that wealthy celebrity just stood up for working stiffs everywhere.
Before you burst a blood vessel in your forehead, let’s take a moment to focus on what this particular judgment was all about. You wanted it to be about The Patriots being cheaters. You wanted it to show that an anti-social curmudgeon like Belichick doesn’t deserve to win titles. You wanted to have something to throw back at your girlfriend when she remarks how handsome Brady is while you’re trying to watch Sports Center. But it was never about any of that.
This case was essentially a labor dispute. On the one side you have a worker who played a little fast and loose with the employee handbook; on the other you have a boss who decided to make an example out of him. In essence, what the judge has said is that the boss over-reacted and had no grounds for the punishment that was enacted. He hasn’t declared Brady guilty or innocent but instead is saying that either way Goodell over-stepped his bounds. And really unless you are a monarch or CEO you should be happy about this decision.
Imagine if you were half an hour late coming back from your lunch break and your supervisor said you weren’t getting paid for the whole week because of it? You’d be pissed, right? Sure, you shouldn’t have taken your sweet time getting back to work but a week’s pay is excessive. You’d definitely call HR or the union if you happened to be part of one. Now, the company handbook states that employees who are late should only be docked for actual time missed, but when your union rep brings this up your boss decides to withhold a month’s pay because he doesn’t like your attitude. You’d seriously consider taking that to court, right?
Look I know this story is a total circus and we’re all tired of hearing about some millionaires suing each other over air pressure in footballs, but we’re not at this point because of Brady. We’re here because a guy appointed by a group of billionaires to over-see their group of exclusive franchises decided to excruciate one of its workers as part of a seriously misguided PR move. (Yes, Brady is a worker, a highly paid one but still a worker.) The league has a rule on the books to deal with this situation and the punishment is a fine. All Roger Goodell had to do was levy the fine and move on. Instead, he chose to play crusader for the “integrity of the game” while completely ignoring the integrity of his own office. He once again thought he could just make up the rules as he went along to suit his purpose. Cheatin’-Ass Tom Brady called “Bullshit!” and he was right.
I know it’s hard to view a millionaire playboy as “the little guy” but this is sort of a victory for the little guy. The NFL is a huge corporation – a monopoly even – and as such it is imperative that it deals with all its employees in an objective and balanced manner. Even if you think Brady was involved in deflating some footballs (Come on Tom, we know you knew about it.) that still doesn’t change the fact that the punishment went way outside the protocol set-up by the league itself. The NFL commissioner shouldn’t be able to arbitrarily suspend players because he feels disrespected, and your boss shouldn’t be able to suspend you for leaving Indian food in the break room fridge for 3 months, even if both incidents leave the work place smelling bad.