Roger Goodell’s long-awaited announcement to uphold Tom Brady’s suspension came recently and boy oh boy did the shit hit the fan. Robert Kraft threw a temper tantrum, Brady followed suit and Twitter turned awesome.
Most of the hullabaloo, of course, centers around Brady’s ‘justification’ for why he hadn’t been able to turn his phone over to the League’s investigation team during the initial ‘Deflategate’ inquiry. His explanation was that he’d destroyed the phone after purchasing a new one.
Makes sense, right? The first thing I do whenever I buy a new mobile is to take the old one and run it a couple times through the garbage disposal. That’s the best way to cover up any evidence relating to the number of hours I’d pissed away playing Bubble Witch Saga.
Tom, of course, was probably hiding something else. Perhaps the alleged 10,000 texts he had sent over the previous four months, a few of which presumptively pertained to underinflated pigskins.
Imagine that, 10,000 text messages – I wonder what service plan he’s on?
We’re going to dive into a more serious discussion here shortly, but first, here are a couple of my favorites from a Twitter search I highly recommend you investigate: Tom Brady phone
— Keith Alberstadt (@KeithAlberstadt) July 30, 2015
Goodell: Let me see the phone, Tom. Tom Brady: pic.twitter.com/vsxjWl6qZH
— NIGrisElba (@hosienation) July 28, 2015
The conundrum of real evidence versus what appears to be painfully obvious
Honestly and truly I don’t believe the NFL has enough hard evidence to say beyond the shadow of a doubt that Tom Brady was involved in altering the PSI of game balls. And the circumstantial evidence of Brady refusing to cooperate, while shady, certainly doesn’t prove anything. Neither does the fact that Robert Kraft quickly accepting the League’s punishment last May of a $1m fine and the loss of two draft picks (Round 1 – 2016, Round 4 – 2017).
Sure, logic tells us that an innocent Brady would be rushing to prove said innocence at all costs and that a guiltless Kraft would appeal any punishment handed down by Roger Goodell.
But again, neither of these assumptions actually proves anything.
I got to thinking, though, about something Kraft said in his anti-NFL tirade following Goodell’s announcement. He stated the only reason he didn’t fight the punishment was that he figured it would help “exonerate” Tom Brady.
But this just doesn’t add up. Essentially Kraft was saying, “OK. I’ll say we did it. We’ll pay the money. We’ll forfeit the draft picks. Just don’t touch Mr. Perfect.”
It was a poor strategy, of course, but not one without precedent.
And I believe the real reason Goodell’s not backing down here has more to do with precedents than he would care to admit.
The NFL is saying: “Sorry guys. You’ve used up your freebie.”
The Patriots organization is fighting hard to have the Deflategate outrage looked at as a one-off incident. The problem is that it most certainly isn’t. The show card for the Spygate scandal listed many of the same players, and just like the boy who cried wolf, the Patriots need to understand that past indiscretions absolutely have an impact on present-day reputation.
Fact: Bill Belichick was directly involved in illegally video-taping opponents’ defensive play calls.
Fact: He and the rest of the New England organization got off with a ridiculously light slap on the wrist.
Belichick was fined $500,000 but escaped any sort of suspension and the team was forced to cough up just $250,000 and a draft pick.
They cheated and lied about it and for all intents and purposes got away with it. The NFL has the right to be angry at a team they gave a second chance to but chose to squander the gift. They were fooled once and refuse to be fooled again.
Like any criminal who’s on parole, it’s up to you to keep your nose clean and I think there’s little doubt that the Pats believe they are above the law.
Is it “fair” for the brunt of the punishment to land square on the head of one guy? Probably not. But then again, nobody benefited more from the lower PSI than Tom Brady. And if the league wants to hit a team where it hurts, suspending their quarterback is without question the most logical way to do it.
Jurisdiction changing hands
At this point the next phase of appeals heads to the judiciary system. It will be up to the courts to determine the legality of the NFL’s actions.
Anticipating a filing by the NFL Players’ Association, the League office preemptively filed in New York for the court to uphold their ruling. Today, a federal judge in Minnesota (where the NFLPA had filed) motioned for the case to be moved to New York where the NFL’s head office is located.
So it appears as though the Deflategate saga is far from over. I’m just looking forward to the start of the season so we can bin all the soap opera antics and get to talking about football once again.