NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was embarrassed by a court’s decision last week to reverse Tom Brady’s 4-game Deflategate suspension — as embarrassed as a guy making $54 million a year can be anyway. But Goodell is hardly without weapons in this fight, even if Goodell’s law firm of choice keeps losing to Tom Brady’s law firm. Suddenly the media are talking again about the bigger scandal the Patriots had believed was behind them — the Spygate scandal. Spygate was a cheating accusation that allegedly saw the Pats illegally taping other teams’ play calling for years (2000-2007).
Back during Spygate Commissioner Goodell righted the NFL ship by convincing owners who were pissed off at the Pats tactics that it would be in everyone’s interests not to make too big a deal about it. In 2007, Goodell let the Patriots off the hook for Spygate. There has been speculation recently that the investigation into Deflategate was particularly penetrating because it was a “makeup call,” in essence, for earlier leniency. No way to know. But what is true is that Brady and the Patriots lost Goodell’s friendship with this latest challenge — and that Goodell has the power to reopen the Spygate investigation any time he wants. The media’s renewed interest in Spygate may well be Goodell-driven in the back channels, and he’s likely to cooperate with reporters.