Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas shared his thoughts on Tom Brady's suspension, Deflategate and commissioner Roger Goodell, critiquing the league and the handling of the situation in an interview with ESPN.
"I would equate what [Brady] did to driving 66 [mph] in a 65 speed zone, and getting the death penalty," Thomas said Sunday. He said Brady does not deserve to be fined, much less suspended. The Pro Bowl left tackle was critical of the league, calling Goodell's decision “completely ridiculous,” but also said he thought the ongoing situation was positive for the NFL in terms of generating exposure, acknowledging that football is an “entertainment business.”
He likened the added profile of this case to a WWE situation, where the entertainment factor has taken precedent over the on-field product, and the commissioner to Vince McMahon.
"I'm not sure if [Goodell] realizes what he's doing is brilliant, but what he's doing is brilliant because he's made the NFL relevant 365 [days] by having these outrageous, ridiculous witch hunts," Thomas said. "It's made the game more popular than ever and it's become so much more of an entertainment business and it's making so much money.”
Thomas was indifferent at the thought of Brady potentially having a role to play in the deflation of footballs in last year's AFC Championship game. He expressed his opinion that there should be no rules for quarterbacks doctoring the ball, that it doesn't matter in the course of the game, and that Brady is not a cheater either way.
He also weighed in on Goodell's heavy disciplinary power within the NFL's collective bargaining agreement, expressing more frustration.
"If [Goodell] even thinks somebody is sort of guilty of some level of crime, they just try to destroy him," Thomas said.
Thomas has made the Pro Bowl in all eight of his seasons, stepping into a starting job after being drafted third overall by Cleveland in the 2007 draft.
- Jeremy Woo