In the NFL's scattershot discipline system, it is dangerous to play the tit-for-tat game and assume a level playing field of equality.
It's just not there.
Since Roger Goodell has become commissioner, his arbitrary and wildly variant discipline range — especially in terms of number of games suspended — has given us Tanard Jackson (20 games for substance abuse), Johnny Jolly (three years for the same), Ben Roethlisberger (four games for an alleged rape for which he was never charged), Terrelle Pryor (five games for breaking NCAA rules) and plenty more.
So yeah, trying to extrapolate what Greg Hardy's suspension reduction from 10 games to four and what it might mean for Brady is tricky business. That said, Hardy and Brady now are both set at four games.
But can commissioner Roger Goodell keep Brady at four? He might have told a ballboy to let a little air out of hit footballs; we can't say with any certainty. He might have come off as a little guilty by not handing Goodell his cell phone. Right now, his suspension is on equal footing to that of Hardy, who was convicted, via bench trial, of domestic violence charges in North Carolina's unsual two-pronged legal system before having the case thrown out when the key witness, Hardy's ex-girlfriend, refused to cooperate.
If you've noticed, Goodell's record on these things is awful. He has essentially been overturned on pretty much every major discipline decision of this magnitude he's handed down the last several years, going all the way back to the New Orleans Saints' bounty incident. Does Goodell jump the gun and reduce Brady to two games (or one?) as a public-relations gambit? Or does he hold firm and essentially dare Brady and Co. to take him to court and risk losing time later?
Either way, Friday's reduction of Hardy's suspension gives us another arbitrary example of how out of whack the league's dart-board discipline remains.
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