The story about deflategate is stupid. And it was a waste of everyone's breath.
The problem the Patriots faced was two-fold: first you had "the team" doing something nefarious. It wasn't about deflated footballs, but that makes a nice story line and is keeps it simple. What was it really about? I don't know, though I have speculated in the past about it being about communicating with players in some way.
The second part was about the NFL trying to flex its muscle on Tom Brady. Plain and simple, he didn't co-operate. And plain and simple, Goodell thought he could suspend him for that reason. Again, this had nothing specifically to do with deflated footballs. This was about the collective bargaining notion that he had the right under personal conduct to take action for non-co-operation, and perhaps to a point for being complicit in a form of bending the rules.
The player and the player association took on that challenge in court. And a judge ruled that under the CBA, Goodell couldn't suspend Brady. It had nothing to do with guilt or innocence. Nothing to with deflated footballs, or lack of co-operation. It had everything to do with limits on the CBA.
But, there's an inherent problem here. Two, actually. The first relates back to the nefarious behavior of the patriots. I have no doubt *at all* that this will simply embolden them to bend the rules in any way they like, knowing that the consequences are by far outweighed by the gains.
They will play the game by their own rules. They will have (another) chip on their shoulders, and will have an axe to grind. They will go mostly undefeated this season, at the expense of integrity.
And then there's the player conduct side. Goodell just lost nearly all power to enforce conduct rules. If he can't suspend a player for being uncooperative, how can he reasonably suspend someone for their actions off the field? There's a danger here that in situations similar to Adrienne Peterson or Ray Rice that the NFL would have to simply let it go. If they did no wrong under the eyes of the law, then how can the NFL suspend them?
Its going to be tough for the NFL to overcome both issues for a while....