Tom Brady will be starting quarterback when the New England Patriots kick off their season next week, thanks to a court reversal of his four-game suspension. His fans are happy, and secretly, the NFL may be, too.

The National Football League took a stand on “integrity” when it suspended Brady for his role in “Deflategate.”

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But the move potentially came at the expense of its pocketbook. Where do you think the league stands now?

Last year, the Patriots were the fourth biggest TV draw, according to an analysis of Nielsen data by AdAge magazine. That averages out to 21.7 million viewers and a 12.9 household rating over its seven nationally televised games.

It not only outdrew every other NFL team, but its match against the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 30 was the most-watched nationally broadcast regular season game. It even topped viewership of four playoff games, according to AdAge.

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Without Brady, advertisers were jittery that the all-important “NFL Kickoff” game on NBC, Thursday, wouldn’t draw as well. It’s the first game of the season. The Pats play the lowly, injury-ravaged Pittsburgh Steelers.

You may recall, the Patriots, with Brady at the helm, won Superbowl XLIX, 28–24, against the Seattle Seahawks. But the game was steeped in controversy.

The Indianapolis Colts charged that the Patriots let the air out of footballs used by Brady in the American Football Conference (AFC) Championship Game.

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A later investigation found that 11 of 12 Patriot game balls were inflated below NFL standards. Softer balls reportedly would be easier to catch in cold weather. The game was played in New England.

Brady was implicated in the scandal by text messages among equipment managers, and the NFL in a settlement, suspended him for four games. The Patriots appealed to a federal court judge.

Judge Richard M. Berman voided the suspension this week (Sept. 3) ruling that Brady was denied “…the requisites of fairness and due process” in the investigation.

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The NFL has vowed to appeal the ruling but it remains to be seen how aggressively they pursue further legal action.

In the meantime, Brady will be taking snaps in the season opener.

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