Tom Brady must feel quite conflicted right now. The star quarterback of the New England Patriots won his and his team's fourth Super Bowl in February, but at the same time the signal caller has been embroiled in the deflategate controversy.
Brady was accused of ordering Patriots' staff to deflate footballs during New England's AFC Championship Game win over the Indianapolis Colts in January. Despite maintaining his innocence, an NFL investigation into the matter concluded that Brady was "generally aware" of the ball tampering.
The quarterback was subsequently suspended for four games by the NFL, a decision many current players disagree with. Regardless of the merits of the suspension, Brady's absence (subject to appeal) at the start of the 2015 season will benefit Pittsburgh Steelers and their quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who will meet the Pats in the season opener.
But rather than revelling in Brady's misfortune, Roethlisberger revealed on Wednesday that playing New England without Brady suiting up just won't be the same.
"He's a guy, I've said for a long time, he's the best in the business, and he proved it again last year winning his fourth (Super Bowl)," said Roethlisberger, per ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler.
"If he's not out there, it's not the same. I have a lot of respect for him on the football field and some of the unbelievable things that he's done. I guess we'll wait and see what's finally going to happen."
Could still reduce ban
Roethlisberger's comments seem quite sincere, but deep down he will be glad to face a Brady-less Patriots.
The NFL is yet to hear Brady's appeal of the four-game suspension that he received in connection to the ball deflation controversy, meaning Brady could still yet reduce his ban. But there is no chance of the ban being scratched off altogether, leaving Jimmy Garoppolo certain to deputise for Brady in the opener against Pittsburgh.