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Tom Brady Quit, but the NFLPA Will Not

Getty Images
Getty Images

Tom Brady is a quitter. He’s weak, cowardly, lazy, and afraid to fight for what he believes in. Maybe he doesn’t believe in it at all. Maybe he’s a phony. He’s a cheater, and he knows it.

Or so you — if you were inclined to break some glasses in Allston — might conclude from his announcement Friday that he’s no longer pursuing his appeal of his four-game suspension for Deflategate. “It has been a challenging 18 months,” Brady wrote in a Facebook post, “and I have made the difficult decision to no longer proceed with the legal process.”

This means that — hark! — our long national nightmare is ov — [muffled record scratch as the record crumbles to dust]. Hahaha, no, it isn’t.

Deflategate isn’t done. There were minutes — whole minutes — when it seemed like it was, before the NFL Players Association promptly clarified that it will continue to advance the case, which, having been bounced out of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan on Wednesday, now has exactly one remaining forum in which to be heard: the U.S. Supreme Court. As in, the one with the big columns, and the running media interns; the one of Roe v. Wade and Brown v. Board of Education and the Notorious RBG. That Supreme Court. It’s been 544 days since the Patriots beat the Colts in the AFC championship game in January 2015, and we are still fighting about whether some footballs were intentionally deflated.

Here is my opinion on Deflategate: I don’t care. Yes, four games is a lot of time, as far as NFL punishments go; yes, the whole thing has morphed into a much larger referendum on commissioner Roger Goodell’s power; yes, cheating, if it occurred, is a very serious matter. I don’t care.

In a year and a half, the controversy has managed to make people passionately apathetic. Did you even know, before this all started, that it was possible to be passionately apathetic? It is. Is it ever. Bring up Deflategate in a bar now — one south of Massachusetts, anyway — and people will yell: I don’t care! It doesn’t matter! Make it stop! Please!

Brady, it seems, has finally reached the same conclusion. He has more to lose than anyone — it’s his reputation on the line and his all-American gaze that will fall upon Jimmy Garoppolo as his backup jogs onto the Gillette Stadium field this September. And that’s to say nothing of the fact that somewhere in his blue-bottled lizard brain, he knows for certain what he did or did not text about air pressure, firmness (ladies), and his desire to win. Even he is done with it.

Did Brady know that the NFLPA would carry on this fight for him, even if he publicly bowed out? Probably. But you can’t help but think that he has finally joined the rest of us in being willing to do something — anything — to make Deflategate end.