Tom Brady and the New England Patriots were thrilled to see the four-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback’s suspension nullified by a judge Thursday, but NBC execs may have been just as pleased. With Brady back in the Week 1 starting line-up, the season opener, which will be broadcast on the NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcast, will be a much more exciting match-up.
Brady’s suspension came after an independent investigation conducted by Ted Wells found that Brady was “generally aware” of equipment tampering during January’s AFC Conference Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts. After settlement talks failed, Brady fought the decision, bringing it to the Federal District Court of Manhattan. There, Judge Richard M. Berman ruled that the suspension was void and that the quarterback hadn’t received proper notice from the NFL about the kind of discipline such misconduct might warrant.
Team owner Robert Kraft maintained in a statement Thursday that there was no evidence of wrongdoing by Brady, adding that “the lawyers at the league still insisted on imposing and defending unwarranted and unprecedented discipline. Judge Richard Berman understood this and we are greatly appreciative of his thoughtful decision that was delivered today.”
The league has already appealed the judgment, according to the NFL, but it will not attempt to prevent Brady from joining his team against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Sept. 10 opener. This is great news for NBC considering that the match-up was previously going to feature second-year quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo under center for the Patriots. For fans, seeing a controversial figure like Brady take the field Thursday will offer a more intriguing storyline than watching his back-up make his first NFL start against a strong conference rival.
For NBC, a photo posted on the Patriots’ official Twitter after the judge’s ruling came down seems to say it all.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 3, 2015