Steelers laud decision, praise Brady for taking on Goodell
Not long after judge Richard Berman on Thursday ruled in favor of Tom Brady's quest against the NFL to have his suspension overturned, billboards in New England displayed the message “Vindicated!”
Steelers player union representative Ramon Foster sees vindication but not for Brady's innocence. Foster believed the U.S. District Court action provided support for his and his teammates' decision four years ago to be the only team to vote against a collective bargaining agreement that handed commissioner Roger Goodell the power to levy the Brady suspension in the first place.
“It does,” Foster said of the ruling providing vindication for the Steelers' 78-6 vote against the 2011 CBA. “We've known (Goodell had too much power) for a while. ... We don't know what's going to happen or change from this, but it shows that he's abusing power.
“The owners, ultimately they have the say-so of what happens to him and how they go about it. But this goes to prove that what we've been saying has been right.”
Across the Steelers locker room following their 23-6 loss to Carolina in the preseason finale Thursday, the reaction from players to the decision wasn't what might be expected.
The Steelers, who open against the Patriots on Sept. 10, had the most to lose in Brady being eligible to play immediately. In their eyes, though, the bigger picture was more important.
“(The union) did a good job of doing their job of defending the player, and at the end of the day, they got an overruling,” defensive end Cameron Heyward said. “We'll move on from there, and we'll see (Brady) on Thursday.”
Foster said he wasn't surprised by the ruling, one that is a blow to the league's powers in disciplining its players.
“The thing they don't have Brady on is guilt,” Foster said. “He never admitted to anything, and they had no proof that he actually did it. It's the (equivalent of) having a jersey infraction — they're supposed to (levy) a fine. Just Roger Goodell abusing his power again, I guess.”
Foster applauded Brady for taking on the Goodell machine.
“It's great, it's a good look for the union,” Foster said.
“For the most part, Tom used the union lawyers to fight this case, and it worked in our favor. Shout out to him for making that happen. He's a guy the NFL needs, and it's good to see him win that.”
Aside from the union/management dynamic, Steelers players had other reasons for wanting Brady to prevail and face them next week. From coach Mike Tomlin down, the Steelers insisted they had been preparing for Brady and not inexperienced backup Jimmy Garoppolo, who they woudl have faced in Week 1.
Beyond that, the Steelers insisted they wanted to play the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots at full strength, even as their team is ailing. All Pros Le'Veon Bell (suspension) and Maurkice Pouncey (injury) and emerging star Martavis Bryant (suspension) will not play.
“Looking forward to it,” Heyward said. “It's Brady. Shoot, what better way to start the season than to play Brady.”
But would beating Garoppolo be better for the Steelers than losing to Brady?
“It wouldn't be better if you beat him,” Heyward said. “Our best against their best. (No.) 7's (Ben Roethlisberger) gonna be there — 12's (Brady) gonna be there. So let's join the party.”
“We were always hoping to see their best,” cornerback Cortez Allen said. “That way, there's no question at the result of the game.”