NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will never be a sympathetic figure in this Deflarthyism nonsense. He has had multiple opportunities to stop the train before it went off the tracks and he has made the wrong decision at every turn. Now, he finds himself in a position that most people can empathize with.
Goodell is stuck between doing the right thing, and doing what his bosses are telling him to do.
The right thing to do would be to punt the punishment until after the upcoming season so the league can use proper reference points from the regular season games to analyze and to determine whether foul play actually happened. With the current information, there is no evidence that the Patriots did anything nefarious during the Colts game and the Patriots are in jeopardy of missing their All Pro quarterback for four games, losing a record $1 million and an additional first and fourth round draft pick, all on a whim.
Goodell, who is beholden to the owners of the league, isn't going to do the right thing. He's going to do something more along the lines of what his bosses are telling him to do.
According to CSNNE's Tom Curran and ESPN's Sal Paolantonio, there are some owners that are lobbying Goodell to not just uphold any penalty against the Patriots, but keep Tom Brady with the maximum suspension already issued.
"[By reducing the suspension] you're angering some of the hard-core owners out there," said Paolantonio. "I know who they are and I'm gonna name ‘em right now: Jim Irsay of the Colts. Steve Bisciotti of the Ravens and others in the AFC who believe the Patriots have gotten away with murder for years and have not been publicly punished properly."
Irsay and Bisciotti should be two of the last owners to talk about suspensions for players with regards to the integrity of the game. Irsay, last offseason's arrest aside, and the Colts are widely believed by Colts beat writers to have tanked the 2011 season, when Peyton Manning was sidelined with an injury, in order to draft Andrew Luck. That seems like questionable integrity. Bisciotti reportedly played a large part in lobbying Roger Goodell to provide Ray Rice with a light two-game suspension prior to the release of the Rice's video of domestic violence.
These two persons just happen to own the teams that the Patriots defeated on the way to the Super Bowl. They also join other impartial owners who have expressed their thoughts on the matter. Whether it's the Jets or the Giants, the Texans or the Cowboys, the Broncos or the 49ers, the Falcons or the Steelers or the Dolphins, teams all over the country have voiced their public support for Goodell and his suspension of Brady. Most of these teams are annual punching bags for the Patriots.
Goodell is within his rights to both hear Brady's appeal and to hear the "advice" of other owners. Article 46 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), which pertains to Commissioner Discipline, states nothing about the independence of the hearing officer.
With that said, any communication of interest between a team owner and Goodell would just be used as ammo by Brady's camp during an appeal in the court system. The Missouri Supreme Court ruled that Goodell couldn't remain impartial during an arbitration because the NFL Bylaws state that Goodell is paid by the league and that the commissioner couldn't be expected to rule against his own bosses.
So any and all further proof that owners are lobbying Goodell for a decision on Brady's potential suspension will only help Brady's camp when this inevitably goes to court. Just make sure you don't feel too bad for Goodell.