When Sept. 3 rolls around, eight days before the Patriots open the season in Arizona, Tom Brady will leave Gillette Stadium and not be allowed to return for a month. Brady, of course, is facing a four-game suspension for his role in Deflategate. The suspension is a result of a year and a half of legal wrangling, debate and, ultimately, the reaffirmation of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s power to act as both judge and jury in this current system.
This leaves Brady in an unfamiliar position, with limitations on what he can do, where he can do it and with whom. I’ve been emailing back and forth with the NFL and the NFLPA for more than a week and finally have some answers about what Brady can and can’t do while on suspension.
-- Attend or watch practice
-- Appear at the team’s facility for any reason
-- Have contact with any team personnel. No exchange of playbooks/game plans or sending video on tablets or other electronic devices. If the league becomes aware of a violation, they will investigate (though the league wouldn’t elaborate how they would discover such info and then enforce).
-- Engage in any team football-related activities or discussions with teammates, even if away from the team facility (i.e. at Brady’s home, or a high school field, etc). This would include working out or running drills, including running simulated plays and playing catch.
-- Go to the stadium as a spectator.
-- Travel to road games
-- Attend press conferences
-- Work out or receive treatment at a different facility with his own trainers, meaning Alex Guerrero and the TB12 Sports Therapy Center at Patriot Place, adjacent to Gillette Stadium, would appear to be in play. However, Guerrero often appears on the Patriots sidelines and wearing Patriots gear. According to report in the Boston Globe last December, since the TB12 center opened in 2013, “the team has paid the company for Guerrero and his staff to provide treatment services and nutritional advice to multiple Patriots players.” An email sent early this afternoon to Patriots PR about Guerrero’s status within the organization has yet to be answered.
-- The NFLPA also believes that Brady can work out at a college or high school and throw to that school’s wide receivers.
-- He’s also free to workout with unsigned free agents, and that would include players who have been cut by the Patriots.
In short, Brady really can’t do much at all. There will be challenges Brady has never faced as a pro, even dating to the 2008 season, which he missed all but a few plays after undergoing knee surgery.