Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas is one of the best in the NFL at keeping harm from befalling his quarterback. On Sunday, the eight-time Pro Bowler expressed outrage at what is happening to another team’s quarterback — Tom Brady of the Patriots.
In comments made to ESPN after a Cleveland practice, Thomas ridiculed the four-game suspension that Brady received for his alleged role in DeflateGate, questioned why there would be any issue at all with deflating footballs and compared commissioner Roger Goodell to WWE chief Vince McMahon.
“I would equate what [Tom Brady] did to driving 66 [mph] in a 65 speed zone, and getting the death penalty,” Thomas told ESPN. …
“If you want [quarterbacks] to play with a brand new football that comes out of the box, then make that the rule,” Thomas added. “If you’re going to allow them to break it in because you want more passing yards, then let them do whatever they want.
“Who cares if they throw a football that has no air pressure? What does it matter? Why don’t we let the quarterbacks do whatever they want to the football? I don’t understand why there’s any rules.”
Brady and Goodell are currently locked in a dispute that is playing out in a federal courthouse, this despite the presiding judge’s repeated prodding for the two sides to reach a settlement. U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman has ordered the two to appear back in court on Aug. 31 if they can’t agree on anything before then, and both the league and the union have asked the judge to issue a ruling by Sept. 4, before the regular season begins.
“I’m not sure if [Goodell] realizes what he’s doing is brilliant, but what he’s doing is brilliant because he’s made the NFL relevant 365 [days] by having these outrageous, ridiculous witch hunts,” Thomas told ESPN. “It’s made the game more popular than ever and it’s become so much more of an entertainment business and it’s making so much money.
“That’s why I’m sure there’s plenty of people saying this is embarrassing for the league. But it’s an entertainment business when it comes right down to it. When the game gets eyeballs in newspapers and on TV, that’s what in the end is the goal for everyone. And that’s what this controversy is giving them.”
Berman has appeared sympathetic toward Brady’s side in court proceedings, sharply questioning the NFL’s legal team over the basis for its punishment of Brady. However, the league may still hold a trump card, in the form of a clause in the collective bargaining agreement that grants Goodell the ability to act as an arbiter in player appeals.
Permitting that scenario in the CBA “was probably an oversight by the players because they didn’t expect [Goodell] to act so unreasonably because his predecessor [Paul Tagliabue] did not act unreasonably,” Thomas told ESPN. “But I think we’re talking about a different NFL now. Like I said, before it was more about the game. Now it’s such an entertainment business. It’s almost like the Kim Kardashian factor that any news is good news when you’re in the NFL.” …
“I’m glad that [Brady]’s fighting [it],” Thomas said. “Because it’s good for the game. It’s an entertainment business. It’s turning into the WWE really. It’s like the Vince McMahon stuff. Basically Goodell is like Vince McMahon.”