Rick Horrow was on hand for the Patriots’ final preseason game in Foxboro on Thursday, and it didn’t matter – not even a little bit – that the Pats lost 12-9 to the Giants. No, there was a party atmosphere inside and outside of Gillette Stadium, as fans held signs reading, “Vindicated” and “Justice prevails” and “Judge Berman for President 2016,” among others.

Indeed, it was a good night to be a Patriots fan, it was a good night to be Tom Brady and it was a good night to be Robert Kraft, whom Horrow spent time with on Thursday.

“He feels vindicated,” Horrow said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “The whole city feels vindicated. I think part of it is that they beat the commissioner. It was a direct, frontal attack on Tom Brady and a four-game suspension, so you could understand why the fans here were all excited that that’s not happening. The other piece of this . . . we now know that Brady will absolutely start against the Steelers, which, you got to feel sorry for (Jimmy) Garoppolo, but that’s effectively irrelevant. As an appeal winds its way through, there’s no injunction possible this is a long process. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals doesn’t rule on stuff overnight, and if they actually have a ruling, it’s next year or beyond, so Tom Brady plays this year.”

The Patriots, once three-point favorites over the Steelers, are now 6.5-point favorites. Their Super Bowl odds also went from 10:1 o 9:1.

“I saw 8:1,” Horrow said. “So whatever it is, it’s hard to describe the feeling around here. People were tailgating, people were celebrating – and let’s remember what it normally would be: this is the fourth preseason game where people really kind of don’t care and they play the third string quarterback during the whole game. This is an entirely different atmosphere here. The Patriots have a much better team because of stability. Forget Brady. The fact is that if the ruling hadn’t happened now and they could have had a ruling anytime during the season, he could have been suspended at a moment’s notice anytime during the season. And so, the bottom line is stability wins out here even though there’s a broader principle (at play).

“It’s not a question of whether Roger Goodell should have the power,” Horrow continued. “It’s a question of how to deploy it and whether or not there was appropriate evidence – and that’s the thing you keep in mind. Because nowhere in any of this – (the) hearing or Judge Berman’s ruling – was there ever anything about did he do it, did he not do it (or) the whole idea of a standard of being generally aware. General awareness of ball deflation by others is not enough. That’s what he said. He didn’t reach any conclusions about whether he did it or how much he did. And I think it’s refreshing that we’re talking about who catches the ball, who throws the ball – not whether it’s blown up at 12 PSI or 14.”


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