The New England Patriots must now prepare for life without Tom Brady, albeit for a short, defined window.
The three-time Super Bowl MVP announced Friday that he would not pursue further legal action to have his Deflategate suspension vacated, officially ruling him out of the Patriots’ first four games of the 2016 season. New England hasn’t had to play without Brady since 2008, the year he tore a knee ligament on opening day. It was the team’s lone season without a postseason appearance in the last 13 years.
For NFL contenders, losing a top-level quarterback for a handful of weeks is often enough to derail a season, even if they can expect an eventual return.
Quarterback suspensions are rare in the NFL, but Ben Roethlisberger’s ban in 2010 might be the Patriots’ best approximation of how to navigate the start of the season without their offensive leader. Big Ben missed the first four games that year for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, but the…