July is usually the slowest news month of the year for NFL fans. That's why the recent story about Roger Goodell still being pissed off at Matt Patricia's shirt mocking him made so many headlines. But lost in the media frenzy was a bigger question: when will the NFL Commish finally get over Deflategate?
By all accounts, the saga was awful for everybody involved: the Patriots lost first- and fourth-round picks and $1 million, Tom Brady was handed a 4-game suspension, and the Goodell furthered his image as a power-hungry tyrant. But, at least in the short term, the commish won the battle. He came down hard and was able to back up his punishments in the Federal courts. So why is he upset about it for longer than the Patriots?
Sure, the suspensions and fines did almost nothing to slow New England down. The team won the Super Bowl despite missing Brady, and took the opportunity to rub the victory in--in addition to Patricia's shirt, Robert Kraft famously called the title "unequivocally the sweetest." For Goodell, it had to sting.
But that doesn't mean he failed to do his job as an enforcer. The penalties for Deflategate were as harsh as those for Spygate and Bountygate, despite an abject lack of actual evidence (and scientific consensus against the league's case). And it's not like Goodell couldn't have reasonably expected the Pats to keep winning when he handed out the sanctions. The team was among the best in the league last year, with or without Brady and an extra first-round talent. For the commissioner to still be annoyed after everything he did to punish New England points to more than just thin skin.
The only plausible explanation for Goodell's anger is that he hates any insubordination at all--and insubordination by the Patriots in particular. Deflategate has been over for months. Yet for Goodell, it's not about the alleged cheating--it's about the affront to his power. In the commissioner's mind, he's the dictator and the NFL is his personal fiefdom. Unfortunately for him, the end of his unchecked power is fast approaching. Players are sure to fight hard for (and possibly even strike for) a revamped disciplinary system at the expiration of the current CBA in 2020. And as for the Patriots? Well, they're going to keep winning for the foreseeable future, with or without the commissioner dead-set against them.