The world waited over a month to finally hear a ruling from the office of Roger Goodell regarding Tom Brady's appeal. The wait ended on Tuesday as the NFL announced his four-game suspension would be upheld.
Of all the suspensions handed out this season, Brady's is arguably the biggest and most impactful. On the other hand, the Patriots are, well, the Patriots. They're the same Patriots that won 11 games with Matt Cassel at the helm. Still, the entirety of the Deflategate ramifications have hurt the Patriots, without a doubt. As for the rest of the league, there are certainly winners and losers.
Here are a few of the winners:
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Jimmy Garoppolo: The biggest winner in all of this could be Jimmy Garoppolo, who will play the first four games of the season in Brady's absence. If he plays well, he should cement his case as the quarterback of the future for New England -- after Brady's retired, of course. The Patriots obviously have plenty of confidence in Garoppolo, drafting him in the second round in 2014.
The rest of the AFC East: The Patriots have won the AFC East each of the past six seasons. Could 2015 be the year that streak ends? Not having Brady for a quarter of the season should help. Needless to say, Brady's suspension helps the other three teams in the division immensely.
The Steelers, Bills, Jaguars, and Cowboys: Those four teams lucked out in having Brady unavailable for their matchups, giving them a much greater chance of winning those games. For the Cowboys, they may be the most fortunate, as they'll have Greg Hardy on the field, while the Patriots will be without Brady.
Patriots running backs: In the absence of Brady, you can bet your bottom dollar that the Patriots' running backs will get more carries. LeGarrette Blount will likely open the season as the No. 1 back, which should give him more carries than originally anticipated.
Every other MVP candidate: Every year, Brady makes a case to be name the MVP. That might be hard for him to do this season playing just 12 games. His numbers obviously won't be able to match those of Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, or other MVP-caliber players, thus making it more difficult for Brady to win the award.
And the losers:
Tom Brady: This is the most obvious of all. Not only did Brady lose nearly $2 million in paychecks -- not that he needs that money -- but he'll also have to live with a tarnished legacy. There's no way around it, this will follow Brady for the rest of his career, regardless of whether he wins in court. There's just no positives coming from this situation for Brady.
Indianapolis Colts: Brady will make his triumphant return in Week 6 where he'll march into Indianapolis to face the very team that noticed the under-inflated footballs. I don't think I have to explain why Brady will "play mad" during that game, meaning the Colts could be in big, big trouble.
Patriots wide receivers: It's always been said that Brady elevates the play of his receivers. We'll get a really good look at that during the first quarter of the season with Garoppolo on the field. Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, and Brandon LaFell will likely see a drop in production during the first four games.
Rob Gronkowski: Gronk will be Gronk, but he'll be less dominant without Brady throwing him back-shoulder throws or firing lasers up the seam. I don't expect a huge drop off, given that the tight end is a young quarterback's best friend, but missing Brady will certainly hurt his numbers.
Roger Goodell and the NFL: Let's be honest, this was a no-win situation for Goodell and the NFL. If they knocked down the suspension, they'd catch flack for not being harsh enough. Now that they upheld the suspension, Goodell is being criticized for dropping Hardy's suspension from 10 to four, but keeping Brady's where it is.