The Patriots Have Abandoned Tom Brady in the Aftermath of Deflategate
For all intents and purposes, the Patriots’ fight against the NFL ended last May when Robert Kraft submitted to Roger Goodell and said he wouldn’t appeal the league’s draconian Deflategate penalties. But over the last year, the team has continued to wage a futile war on social media.
This disingenuous display continued Thursday, when the Patriots changed their Twitter avatar and Facebook profile picture to a photo of Tom Brady just before the start of the NFL Draft. The club also shared the image on its Instagram account. And a picture is worth a thousand words, particularly if you don’t want to get too specific about what, exactly, you’re supporting, right?
Though Brady’s four-game suspension was reinstated Monday by a federal appellate court, the most costly punishment levied against the Pats was the loss of their first-round pick. New England was forced to sit out Thursday’s proceedings, which likely cost it the opportunity to land an impact player who could be an integral part of the team for years to come (Bill Belichick has drafted six Pro Bowlers in the first round during his 15 years as head coach).
With ESPN’s Adam Schefter reporting this week that Brady is unwilling to accept the court’s ruling, it appears TB12 is intent on fighting his suspension until the bitter end. But given the Patriots’ public capitulation to the league office, he’ll probably have to go through the fight alone.
In the aftermath of Deflategate, owner Robert Kraft, who was once known as the “assistant commissioner,” has reportedly rebuilt his working relationship with Goodell. The two were spotted walking together at a league meeting in Sun Valley last summer and Kraft’s son, Jonathan, was photographed hugging Goodell prior to the Patriots-Giants game in November.
Just last month, after revealing he wrote a fruitless letter to the commissioner asking for the Patriots’ lost draft picks to be returned, Kraft sang Goodell’s praises.
“Putting personal situations aside, I think he has done a very good job,” Kraft said to reporters, via WEEI.com. “He’s worked hard. The health of the league has not been better. We have our issue that we don’t think has been handled well. It is what it is.”
It’s clear that Kraft, who sits on multiple league committees, values his role as a powerbroker and doesn’t have an appetite to wage a battle against the commissioner’s office. And though that may be the prudent action to take, it makes the Patriots’ support of Brady online look superficial.
Instead of challenging the NFL in front of a microphone, the team has opted to continually update its Deflategate truther website, The Wells Report in Context. Rather than issue a statement this week about Brady’s suspension, the club chose to passive aggressively change its Twitter avatar.
The social media solidarity is nice, but it means little without accompanying public fury.