“The competitor in you wants to see the best team out there and why not beat Tom Brady in Gillette Stadium on a Thursday night game?’’ defensive end Cam Heyward told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ed Bouchette.
If Brady and the NFL Players Association take the fight to court, an injunction might make him available for the opener, which will be a celebration of the Patriots’ Super Bowl win and an especially inhospitable place for Goodell.
“We might have a better chance [without Brady], but when you look at playing these teams and seeing them in the playoffs you want your guys to be ready to go into that situation,’’ Heyward said. “So if guys can prepare against playing against the best early, it’s going to help us later down the road.”
Brady isn’t the only player likely to miss the opener. For their 2014 marijuana arrest, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell will be serving the first game of a three-game suspension; Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount was suspended one game. But Brady’s absence or presence will be all the buzz.
“I mean, it’s Tom Brady and the opening game of the NFL! I hope he wins his appeal, it would be great for the NFL,” tackle Marcus Gilbert said. “It would be great for both of the [teams’] fans. We’ll get their best and they will see our best. The NFL and the fans want to see the best on the best and hopefully they’ll give it to us the first game.”
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who was suspended four games (reduced from six) in 2010 for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy, said in May that he hopes Brady is available for Game 1.
“If he’s not out there,” Roethlisberger said, “it’s not the same.”