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Politics and social interactions bring out the best in individuals and groups, and the worst. I wish we would see some more of the best around us.

Tom Brady’s situation this fall, as he serves his suspension, calls a thought like that to mind. Within his own team, the suspension raises questions of loyalty and spirit. Among team owners more generally, you can see division based on a vindictive desire to punish.

For his own part, Brady is allowed no contact whatsoever with his football team, in a professional capacity, during his four-game suspension. He cannot go near Gillette Stadium. More importantly, his teammates cannot interact with him. Years ago, I was a member of a church where the pastor took a leave over the summer to recharge. That’s when the board fired him: at the end of his leave. I won’t suggest that will happen to Tom Brady, but his position as leader of the Patriots is, in its way, more delicate than a pastor who leaves for summer vacation.

Image result for tom brady and roger goodell

Roger Goodell and Tom Brady

A somewhat submerged point in the article below is that when Tom Brady returns to the locker room and to the field, he has to reestablish himself as leader of the team. That’s an uncertain process. If by October the players feel more comfortable playing with Jimmy Garoppolo behind center, if they sense the coaching staff and the owner like Jimmy – a lot – psychological dynamics within a team can change. Suddenly Peyton Manning plays for the Broncos. Suddenly Wes Welker isn’t a Patriot anymore.

Brady’s suspension demonstrates political moves that rely on falsehood can ruin anything, even the reputation of an athlete who has integrity. Could it ruin his career as well? You can imagine Brady saying, after he comes back, “It just wasn’t the same anymore.”

Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner, would not have imposed this punishment if he did not have backing from a majority of the owners. That the owners would turn on one of their own is both sad and disturbing. How many owners stood by Bob Kraft in this affair? I have not heard one owner defend him, or criticize Goodell for going after Brady.

To the contrary, team owners seem united in their desire to make Brady pay. What a bunch of cowards. The fans may love to hate the Patriots, but the owners should not let anyone scapegoat one of their number. It may feel satisfying now, but later they will realize they acted unjustly. What the owners have done to Kraft and Brady, in order to get revenge on Belichick, is dishonorable.

Roger Goodell should have stood by Bob Kraft, an owner who stood by his quarterback. But Goodell is a weak man. He shows it in almost everything he does.

In publication for since the early 2000s, The Jeffersonian has produced several excellent collections of essays on politics. To learn about these books, and their author, visit Dr. G’s Writing Workshop.

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