The huge Week 1 matchup on Sunday Night Football between the Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots isn't quite as huge now. A U.S. Appeals Court has reinstated the four-game suspension Tom Brady was given by the NFL for his involvement in the Deflategate scandal two seasons ago.
This means, unless another appeal comes through for the future Hall of Fame quarterback, the Cardinals will not have to face Brady when they open the season at home against the Patriots.
The suspension was given last May, but was overturned by the courts in September. He played all last season and the league continued to pursue the issue.
Now with the reinstatement, Brady has one more shot. He must appeal to the 21-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit Court. If they agree to hear the case, they could grant an injunction to keep the suspension from happening until they have heard the case and ruled on it. If they refuse to hear the case, Brady will have no other option but to serve the suspension.
All of this over some air in some footballs.
This does potentially make a Week 1 victory to start the season much more likely for the Cardinals, who are coming off a 13-3 season in which they lost in the NFC Championship game. They have Super bowl aspirations once again this season.
With or without Brady, the game is still important, as it sets the tone for the season. And Cardinals fans shouldn't get their hopes up too early about facing Jimmy Garoppolo yet. There is still a lot of time and since the suspension was overturned once, it certainly could happen again.
I think a win is much more certain with Brady out, but it would make a much more meaningful win to beat the Pats with Brady in the game. It would send a message to the league that the Cardinals are still in business.