Without Tom Brady, Patriots-Cowboys meeting not the same


OXNARD, Calif. -- Unless Tom Brady takes the NFL to court and is successful in appealing his four-game suspension, the Dallas Cowboys won't see the New England Patriots quarterback when the teams meet Oct. 11 at AT&T Stadium.

From a football perspective, that is absolutely good news for the Cowboys. They would much rather see Jimmy Garoppolo, provided he holds onto the job in camp, than Brady, the future Hall of Famer.

From a fan of the game perspective, it's bad news. This is likely Brady's one and only appearance at AT&T Stadium. With the scheduling the way it is, New England won't be back in Arlington until 2023. Brady might be a marvel but he won't be playing football at 46 years old.

It is special to see future Hall of Famers play in person, especially at a venue like AT&T Stadium, but the chances of seeing Brady are slim. It was special to see Peyton Manning play in Arlington two years ago with the Denver Broncos in one of the most memorable games of the 2013 season, a 51-48 Denver win.

Most fans won't look at Brady's suspension that way. They'll just see the benefit of playing the defending Super Bowl champion without their starting quarterback, which is perfectly understandable.

Just because Brady won't be at the game, doesn't mean there won't be a lot of storylines. CBS will still get the ratings. The Cowboys and Patriots are two of the most popular teams with outgoing owners in Robert Kraft and Jery Jones.

But the most intrigue will remain at the quarterback position. Garoppolo is an Eastern Illinois product, like Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. That's quite a feat for a small school.

The Cowboys could also be welcoming defensive end Greg Hardy and linebacker Rolando McClain back to the field after they each serve their four-game suspensions.

Like Brady, Hardy could take the NFL to court to seek further reduction of his suspension but a decision has not been made. Hardy saw his 10-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy reduced to four games by an arbitrator.