In the immediate aftermath of Thursday’s decision clearing Tom Brady for his alleged role in Deflategate, several players — Patriots and otherwise — took to Twitter to comment on the ruling:

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Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Tom Brady and Roger Goodell will meet again Monday in front of Judge Richard Berman.  (D Dipasupil/Getty Images)

Tom Brady and the NFLPA came away with a colossal win over Roger Goodell on Thursday. (D Dipasupil/Getty Images)

For Tom Brady, it’s game on.

The Patriots quarterback was cleared by Judge Richard Berman on Thursday morning, his proposed four-game ban for an alleged role in Deflategate reduced to zero games. That clears the quarterback to start the regular season under center for the Patriots next Thursday night against the Steelers.

It’s a colossal victory to only for Brady, but for the National Football League Players’ Association, which has fought alongside the quarterback throughout the process in hopes of trying to minimize Goodell’s brand of occasional capricious and arbitrary disciplinary process.

At the same time, the decision to overturn Brady’s four-game suspension is seen as a massive defeat for the league and commissioner Roger Goodell, who will now likely face major challenges when it comes to his role as league disciplinarian. The league leaned on the current collective bargaining agreement in making its case in front of Judge Richard Berman, saying that under the auspices of the CBA, Goodell had every right to do what he did when it came to penalizing Brady.

But in the end, their argument wasn’t proven to be enough. Berman’s decision to knock the NFL around in a pair of court hearings earlier this month wasn’t just window-dressing, as he punched several holes in the league’s assertion then, and did the same in his decision. The statement from the court, which stretched 40 pages and was dropped by Berman on Thursday morning, really came down to a 40-word passage: “Based upon the foregoing and applicable legal authorities, the Court hereby denies the Management Council’s motion to confirm the Award and grants the Players Association’s motion to vacate the Award, thereby vacation the four-game suspension Tom Brady, effective immediately.”

Going forward, the question is now whether or not the league wants to fight the decision, likely via an appeal. We have heard from several owners on this point throughout the summer, many of whom back Goodell and his decision to try and punish the Patriots, while others have what might best be described as Deflategate fatigue and would be more inclined to move forward without a prolonged legal battle.

“I just want it to be over with one way or the other,” Giants owner John Mara told WFAN last month when asked about Deflategate. “We’re all tired of hearing about it.”

Whatever happens, expect player discipline and the commissioner’s role in the process to be a serious sticking point in the next CBA discussion. (For the record, the current CBA extends until 2020.) But that’s a story for another day. Now, the Patriots and the NFLPA can claim a serious legal victory, and Brady will be free to play next Thursday against the Steelers.

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Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Maybe, just maybe Defategate is over.

Tom Brady has beat the NFL in court, as judge Richard Berman nullified his four-game suspension for his role in Deflategate. After the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement, Berman ruled on his own.

Maybe, just maybe Defategate is over.

Tom Brady has beat the NFL in court, as judge Richard Berman has nullified his four-game suspension.

Berman writes in his order, “Based upon the foregoing and applicable legal authorities, the court hereby denies the Management Council’s motion to confirm the Award and grants the Players’ Association’s motion to vacate the Award, thereby vacating the four-game suspension of Tom Brady effective immediately.”

Brady will not miss any games this season and play in Sept. 10’s season-opener.

More to come…

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Jimmy Garoppolo has one of the best preseason stat lines of any NFL quarterback. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Jimmy Garoppolo has one of the best preseason stat lines of any NFL quarterback. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The five things we’re looking for when it comes to Thursday’s preseason finale between the Patriots and the Giants:

Who is playing

As simple as this sounds, when it comes to a lot of players, whether or not they end up playing in the preseason finale can serve as an indication of their roster chances. If there are a few players who might be perceived as being on the bubble at this point in the summer (Chris Harper? Travaris Cadet?) who don’t play, history tells us that they have a good shot at making the final 53-man roster. There are a few exceptions to the rule, like Reggie Wayne (for reasons we’ll discuss shortly). But at the same time, don’t look for regulars like Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and Jerod Mayo Thursday evening.

The snaps at quarterback

While there won’t be anywhere near the same level of scrutiny this time around — it would be surprising if Tom Brady plays, given his traditional workload in the preseason finale as well as the events of the last week — it’s still worth keeping an eye on. At least statistically, Jimmy Garoppolo is having one of the best preseasons of any quarterback in the NFL through the first three games, going 61-for-80 for 554 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions. Based on the improvements Garoppolo has shown over the course of the summer, the Patriots would love to see him continue on that same arc heading into the regular season. It’s also likely we’ll get our first glimpse of Ryan Lindley, who was signed as a camp arm earlier this summer after Matt Flynn couldn’t get on the field. Lindley has not seen any game action to this point in the preseason.

For the record, Brady has played in the fourth preseason game of the year on four occasions: 2002, 2003, 2010 and 2011. Here’s a look at his workload and production in each of those games:

2011: 5-for-9, 116 yards, 15 snaps vs. Giants
2010: 4-for-8, 51 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 13 snaps vs. Giants
2003: 8-for-10, 63 yards, 1 TD, 12 snaps vs. Bears
2002: 7-for-10, 59 yards, 20 snaps vs. Redskins

Reggie Wayne

The veteran receiver got 21 snaps in his preseason debut with the Patriots last week against Carolina, and had zero catches on one target. Even though the final preseason affair usually is given over to youngsters and other potential bubble candidates, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Wayne get a handful of reps Thursday against the Giants in advance of the regular season.

The final chapter in some positional battles

Coming into training camp, there were a few positional battles that were worth monitoring, most notably the third-down back and second corner. With strong performances over the last two games (as well as solid efforts throughout the course of the summer), running back Dion Lewis and cornerback Tarrell Brown appear to have the inside track on both jobs. That’s not to say the Patriots would cut the rest of the candidates, only to suggest that when it comes to Lewis and Brown, those jobs are theirs to lose at this point on the calendar. That being said, there’s still a chance for someone to make some noise when it comes to adding depth at either one of those positions. Cadet and James White are the two with the best chances to chip in at third-down back (Cadet may be playing for a spot on the roster Thursday night), while Logan Ryan and Bradley Fletcher lead a group of challengers who still could make a case for the second corner spot.

The new guys

The Patriots added return specialist Jalen Saunders and wide receiver DaVaris Daniels on Tuesday, and while expectations should be tempered when it comes to both of them (if they even end up playing), it’ll be interesting to see how much action they get. Daniels is a 6-foot-2, 205-pounder out of Notre Dame, an undrafted free agent who was signed by Minnesota. He didn’t play last season, but in 2013 with the Fighting Irish he caught 49 passes for 745 yards and seven touchdowns. Meanwhile, Saunders is a 5-foot-9, 165-pounder who is now on his fifth team since being drafted by the Jets in 2014 (Jets, Saints, Seahawks, Cardinals and Patriots). He’s played in 15 games in the NFL with 15 punt returns and an 8.3 average per return. He also has three kick returns to his credit with an average of 46.3 yards per return. While there’s the real likelihood at one of these players was signed as a stopgap for Thursday night by a team that’s shorthanded at both spots, if they make a good impression with the opportunities that will be given to them, they could end up sticking around.

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Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

According to Sarah Wroblewski of Fox 25, there’s a slight chance of showers Thursday night at Gillette for Patriots-Giants.

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Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

The NFL Network released a new snippet of the upcoming “Do Your Job” documentary, set to air Sept. 9 at 8 p.m. In this segment, Patriots coach Bill Belichick discusses the birth of one of the season’s leading catchphrases.

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Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Pete Morelli will serve as the referee for Thursday’s preseason finale between the Patriots and Giants, while the line judge for the contest will be Sarah Thomas, the NFL’s first female full-time official, according to Footballzebras.com.

Pete Morelli will serve as the referee for Thursday’s preseason finale between the Patriots and Giants, while the line judge for the contest will be Sarah Thomas, the NFL’s first female full-time official, according to Footballzebras.com.

The 63-year-old Morelli was initially hired by the NFL as a back judge in 1997, and was promoted to referee in 2003. He’s worked four Patriots games since the start of the 2013 season, including last year’s game against the Colts in Indy and the home contest against the Raiders at Gillette Stadium.

Thomas, who was hired in April, is in her first full-time season as an NFL official. She was the first woman to officiate a major college football game, the first to officiate a bowl game and first to officiate in a Big Ten stadium.

For more on Morelli’s work as an official, check out his page at Pro Football Reference. And for more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

DraftKings Kick off this football season with the biggest fantasy football contest ever on DraftKings! Prizes worth $10 million are up for grabs, including $2 million for first AND $1 million for second! PLAY IN THE WEEK 1 MILLIONAIRE MAKER, CLICK HERE.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to discuss possible outcomes in the Deflategate appeal hearing. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.