Upfront: If Tom Brady is suspended over this report, and it's upheld, then the league decided that they wanted to force him to the sideline before the report was finalized. Maybe he did it. Maybe he didn't. But there's zero way any reasonable person can use that report to come to the conclusion that the Patriots deflated footballs below the legal limit, never mind that Tom Brady issued the order.
But then again, that assumes that the league is operating within the realm of reason. And they aren't.
There is a wide range of expectations for Brady's suspension. Some say it should be zero (raises hand), while some are saying it could last the whole season. Here are the implications of each.
The Patriots will have their quarterback for the full season! It won't feel like a victory unless the league redacts the report, or states that they disagree with the conclusion.
Tom Brady will miss the opener against the Steelers. Pittsburgh won't have starting running back Le'Veon Bell, so it should be a little more balanced of a match-up. Look for the "#NoBradyNoBanner" movement to pick up steam as New England could potentially make a big stink and refuse to play ball with the season's festivities. Robert Kraft would totally wait for Brady to get back before raising the banner. Does the league want one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game to miss the headline game of the opening week?
Brady would miss the Steelers and Bills games, two potential losses that could shift the landscape of the AFC. The Steelers were the Patriots rivals at the start of their run. Rex Ryan has been the voice during the recent seasons. This would be Jimmy Garoppolo's second crack at Buffalo. Ray Rice's initial penalty was a two game suspension.
This would be a really odd length of suspension, but it would hold out Brady for two home games and take New England into the Bye Week. Week 3 is against the Jaguars, and one would hope a Garoppolo-led offense could still beat Jacksonville.
The Patriots travel to Dallas to play the Cowboys. Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft are the two most powerful owners in the league. What Kraft wants won't matter. How happy will Jerry be if it's a Brady-less Patriots team that takes the field?
Absolutely zero chance the league lets Brady miss the revenge game against the Colts, right? PED violations receive a four game suspension.
The Patriots would have to play five conference games, including two games against divisional leaders, and two division games without Brady. That would potentially cripple the Patriots season. All based on a whim.
Brady would miss another division game, but would make it back for a game in New York against the Giants. At this point, New England would at least be able to confirm if Garoppolo is the quarterback of the future- and while I don't even consider it possible, if the Patriots somehow come out 8-0, it might be Garoppolo's team.
Sidebar: How successful would the team have to be without Brady in order to justify riding with Jimmy Garoppolo? If the Patriots are 4-0 and are winning every game by 20 points, I still think they hand the reigns to Brady. But if they're 8-0? 12-0? That's a definite controversy.
If Brady misses the whole season, then the NFL has a bigger issue on their hands and Roger Goodell would be out of a job. There's roughly zero circumstances where the league could justify this outcome, and yet with everything the league has shown throughout this process, sixteen games would be a total Goodell move. If Garoppolo leads the team to the playoff, look for the league to try and find a way to suspend him for 2016.
If Brady is suspended for just one game, New England would have to bring on a veteran quarterback to back-up Garoppolo for the length of suspension. Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, and Matt Cassel all have jobs right now, or else they'd be the top priorities.
The NFL has turned this non-story into a farce, and this entire article should never even be a consideration. But here we are. Hopefully Brady will be here for Week 1.