Home > Opinion > Power Struggle: How Goodell Took the Upper Hand in Deflategate

Power Struggle: How Goodell Took the Upper Hand in Deflategate

Jay Kenney ‘16

Staff Writer


After four hundred and sixty three days of drama, Deflategate just won’t quit.

In recent months, evidence has come to light that Deflategate is much larger than Roger Goodell and Tom Brady.

Goodell’s intentions appear to be innocent on the surface: the commissioner is just “protecting the shield” and “maintaining the integrity of the game”. Keeping the Patriots in line creates an appearance of control and stability within the NFL.

Wading past these superficial justifications of such severe and unprecedented punishment will enlighten the true reason for a crusade against New England.


Brady’s innocence or guilt isn’t the driving factor. The dedication that Goodell has committed toward proving Brady’s guilt for an equipment violation is uncharacteristic. It’s evidence of a continuing power battle between the NFLPA and the commissioner over disciplinary rights. Goodell had a prime opportunity to flex his muscles in front of the NFLPA fall right into his lap. A shot to serve as the NFL’s dictator and punish an organization who’s widely hated across the league.

Unfortunately the Player’s Association is what ultimately failed Tom Brady.  The NFL commissioner has every right to serve as judge, jury, and executioner.  Under the 2011 CBA, the NFLPA practically handed Goodell the role of disciplinarian. With the new ruling, Goodell can lean on the CBA and enforce the punishment.

There was promise this April that Goodell may negotiate with the NFLPA in order to suppress some of his disciplinary powers. The disciplinary discussions have also ceased with no resolution. A source close to the situation also stated, “It seems like there’s nothing to talk about until 2020”.

With the Brady ruling overturned today, the commissioner’s role is cemented only further. The rift in power appeared to have finally swung Brady’s/NFLPA’s way when the suspension was lifted. Now Brady and the NFLPA’s efforts are back to square one.

Unfortunately Goodell’s vehemence toward “protecting the shield” has been missing in more serious matters like violence and player safety. Where was such determined conviction throughout the entirety of the Ray Rice investigation?

With Goodell achieving massive victory today there is no reason to believe he surrenders his influence over the disciplinary process. He’s made such a tremendous effort to obtain the power he has today, why just give it up? The CBA’s rules do clearly indicate Goodell’s power over the process: fair or not.

Deflategate as currently construed is a Patriots fan’s worst nightmare: Brady sits, Patriots’ foes can capitalize on the suspension, the system remains broken and Goodell wins.

The chances of having a re-hearing before the second circuit is low which would only leave Brady camp the option of appealing before the U.S. Supreme Court. Both are unlikely to happen according to legal experts.

Hopefully Ruth Bader Ginsburg likes her football, or Jimmy G is staring down his first NFL start Week 1.