Ross Kelly, CBS Local Sports

Amidst the Brady-Goodell Deflategate legal proceedings, one of the most respected players in the NFL has come to the defense of Tom Brady. Joe Thomas, the Browns All-Pro left tackle, had some poignant comments about Deflategate itself as well as the commish:

“I would equate what [Brady] did to driving 66 [mph] in a 65 speed zone, and getting the death penalty….I’m glad that he’s fighting [it]. Because it’s good for the game. It’s an entertainment business. It’s turning into the WWE really. It’s like the Vince McMahon stuff. Basically Goodell is like Vince McMahon.”

We’ve heard former players, media-types, Donald Trump, and even NFL owners weigh in on the Deflategate situation, but Thomas is arguably the most esteemed current player to give his two cents. Through eight seasons Thomas has amassed eight Pro Bowls and five first-team All-Pro selections. Only five other players in NFL history can claim to have matched or surpassed those accolades, and they’re all in the Hall of Fame.

But getting back to the comment, I think it is an apt comparison. The WWE may be ‘sports-entertainment’ but it’s the only sports “league” that is in season 365 days a year. There is no off-season and the company strives to remain relevant at all times. In recent years the NFL has moved to having “no offseason” and situations like the dragged-out Deflategate scandal allow the league to remain relevant at all times. Is Goodell purposely doing this? Only he knows, but we know that he loves when people are talking about ‘The Shield’ and that’s one of the benefactors of Deflategate (which is approaching month number 9).

Ross Kelly is an Associated Producer for CBS Local Sports. He is from Louisiana and is a fan of all sports, but not of any teams (except LSU). He can be reached at ross.kelly@cbs.com.