The Patriots finished last season by winning the Super Bowl, and as is customary, the plan was to raise a banner on opening night celebrating that accomplishment.

But it wouldn't have felt right if Tom Brady were serving the four-game suspension that was initially levied for his perceived role in the Deflategate saga, so the championship banner ceremony would have been postponed.

None of that is necessary now that Brady's suspension has been lifted, and he'll be taking the field with the rest of his teammates when the season begins on Sept. 10. But Patriots president Jonathan Kraft revealed that had Brady been forced to sit the opener out, an alternative banner was indeed in the works.

Was it a "Free Brady" banner? Or would it say "12" somewhere?

Kraft explained that " '1' and '2' was on it. Not 'free.' And there may have been some other things that were on the banner. It was much more factual and substantive than that.  Tom may have been a three-time Super Bowl MVP and a four-time Super Bowl winner, and that may have been a part of it too."

The Patriots were going to find a way to stick it to the commissioner one way or another, and honoring Brady this way in spite of the suspension would have been an epic form of disrespect -- even if the commissioner himself wouldn't have been there to see it in person.

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[via CSNNE.com]