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Steelers hoping Brady plays in season opener

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The Sports Xchange

Many Pittsburgh Steelers players are hoping New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady wins his Deflategate appeal so they can play against him in the NFL season opener.

The Steelers, who reported Saturday for the start of training camp, travel to Foxborough, Mass., to face the Patriots to kick off the season on Thursday night, Sept. 10.

“Yes, of course,” defensive end Cam Heyward told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “The competitor in you wants to see the best team out there and why not beat Tom Brady in Gillette Stadium on a Thursday night game?”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said last week there is no timeline for a ruling in the appeal of Brady’s four-game suspension. Speaking at a fundraiser in Pennsylvania, Goodell said, “We will make a decision as quickly as possible.”

Brady appealed the suspension on June 23 at NFL headquarters in New York. Goodell said the league is being very thorough to consider all aspects of the appeal.

The NFL Players Association and Brady’s camp are planning to move their litigation to federal court if Goodell doesn’t wipe out the ban.

If Brady still is suspended for the season opener, backup Jimmy Garoppolo would get the start. Garoppolo is a second-round pick in 2014 who attempted 27 passes as a rookie.

“We might have a better chance, but when you look at playing these teams and seeing them in the playoffs you want your guys to be ready to go into that situation,” Heyward said. “So if guys can prepare against playing against the best early, it’s going to help us later down the road. If it gets dragged into a legal battle, I think he’ll be playing.”

Cornerback Antwon Blake also prefers to play against Brady in the opener.

“That’s Steelers football,” Blake said. “We want to play against the best so we want the best out there. It’s definitely a challenge. We’ll stand up and be ready for it. It would be a great opportunity to play against a legendary quarterback like that.”

Right tackle Marcus Gilbert is another player who wants to face the best.

“I want to,” Gilbert told the newspaper. “I mean, it’s Tom Brady and the opening game of the NFL. I hope he wins his appeal, it would be great for the NFL. It would be great for both of the (teams’) fans. We’ll get their best and they will see our best. The NFL and the fans want to see the best on the best and hopefully they’ll give it to us the first game.

“We talked about it. What he did (in Deflategate) was probably not right but obviously he’s a proven guy, a proven winner, probably one of the greatest to ever play. To see him in the opening game of the season would mean a lot, especially to both teams.”

The Steelers play the NFL’s first preseason game in two weeks against the Minnesota Vikings in the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio.


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