Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey criticized the NFL for wasting resources on the "Deflategate" legal saga on Monday, instead of focusing on more critical issues, such as domestic violence.
"My view remains that the NFL spent way too much time and energy and attention on this issue when it had missed the boat for a long time on the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault," Healey said in an interview with the Boston Herald. "That’s where I would like to see them focus their attention."
Her comments came in response to the decision by a U.S. appeals court to restore Tom Brady’s four-game suspension after a protracted legal battle between the NFL and the NFL Players Association.
In May 2015, the New England Patriots quarterback was suspended for his alleged role in a plot to use under-inflated footballs, which can be easier to handle. Brady fought the suspension, and in September 2015, U.S. District Judge Richard Berman nullified it. Now, that suspension is back on, which means Brady will probably have to sit out the first four games of the season. (Brady does have a few legal options left, but they are shrinking. Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann outlines them here.)
The NFL has been plagued by domestic violence issues over the past few years. As HuffPost’s Mollie Reilly wrote earlier this year:
[T]he shadows of Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and other players accused of assaulting their wives and girlfriends — and the memory of the league’s various disappointing responses to those cases — still loom large over the sport.
The league updated its domestic violence policy in 2014 after video emerged of Rice, then a running back for the Baltimore Ravens, assaulting his then-fiancee Janay Palmer in an elevator. But advocates say the NFL is still falling short in punishing players who abuse women.
The NFL and the NFL Players Association are reportedly working toward a deal that would strip Roger Goodell of disciplinary power.