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Kavitha A. Davidson

Roger Goodell Won Deflategate

The commissioner turned craven waffling into the appearance of leadership.
That one seems over-inflated.

That one seems over-inflated.

Photographer: Billie Weiss/Getty Images

Since Tom Brady's four-game suspension for his role in Deflategate came down, opinion has been remarkably one-sided. Yes, a few people think the penalty is unduly harsh, but most fans and commentators follow Sports Illustrated's Peter King in being astonished that the NFL actually punished its golden boy and its model franchise. But don't be fooled -- almost certainly, the whole point of the exercise was to elicit that latter response. In the NFL, discipline remains a tool for crafting the image of the league and its commissioner, Roger Goodell.

I admit I was among those who didn't think Goodell would have the grit to sanction Brady, let alone Patriots owner Robert Kraft, perhaps the most powerful owner in the league and the one most entrenched in Goodell's inner circle. In addition to Brady's four-game suspension, the NFL fined the Patriots $1 million and docked them a first-round draft pick in 2016 an a fourth-round pick in 2017.