By: Steve Balestrieri
“As always, I am bound, of course, by standards of fairness and consistency of treatment among players similarly situated, and I have had those standards in mind throughout my consideration of this appeal.”
That statement alone should bring a chuckle to anyone’s face that has been following the Deflate-gate mess since January. If this entire scenario wasn’t sad enough, Goodell and the NFL has made this fiasco an even bigger black eye for the league.
Roger Goodell has upheld the Tom Brady suspension for the entire four games and even fired a pre-emptive strike in court, filing in New York Federal Court to have his suspension upheld rather than allow Brady and the NFLPA to file in either Boston or Minneapolis where more union friendly judges can be found.
Goodell took over a month to release his decision and based nearly his entire decision on the fact that Brady “destroyed his cell phone” and even used his increasingly more frequent propaganda machine, the offices of ESPN to leak that information out.
But like all of the leaks from Baghdad Bob….er Goodell the devil is in the details. In the footnotes of the league’s 20 page finding that can be found here, that was first reported by Mike Florio from ProFootball Talk. Brady offered the league the spread sheets for everyone that he texted in time period mentioned, so that the league could contact them for anything related in the case.
Much like the self-serving Wells Report, a look at footnote 11 on page 12 shows:
“After the hearing and after the submission of post-hearing briefs, Mr. Brady’s certified agents offered to provide a spreadsheet that would identify all of the individuals with whom Mr. Brady had exchanged text messages during [the relevant time] period; the agents suggested that the League could contact those individuals and request production of any relevant text messages that they retained.
Aside from the fact that, under Article 46, Section 2(f) of the CBA, such information could and should have been provided long before the hearing, the approach suggested in the agents’ letter — which would require tracking down numerous individuals and seeking consent from each to retrieve from their cellphones detailed information about their text message communications during the relevant period — is simply not practical.”
The league deemed it not practical and as Florio points out, the texts, numbering 10,000 seems like a tremendous number. But they work out to about 83 texts a day both sent and received. Dismissing those to anyone totally unrelated to the Patriots or the NFL would be a simple task, but hey why bother? This was pre-determined since before the AFC Championship Game.
Now, is Brady destroying his phone an illegal act? No and he like many countless people has the right to destroy his own phone…one that was not supplied by the league or the team. And Brady has no compulsion to turn it over. Remember the Ray Rice case, when called to testify, Goodell also declined to turn over his phone as well, but apparently, that wasn’t deemed relevant.
The NFL already had in its possession all texts between Brady, McNally and Jastremski. So any other texts were either just a fishing expedition or just Goodell trying to flex his authority over the players
But Brady’s destruction of his phone does give the appearance of guilt in this case, very much so. And that is what the NFL has been dealing here since January….appearance is everything.
Let’s leak out thru the Mort Report that 11 of the 12 Patriots footballs were a full 2 pounds PSI under the league limit. Which was a blatant lie, but that got this ball rolling. And forget releasing the correct information, which the league had, to the Patriots until the Wells Report was released.
The then aforementioned Wells Report was released and again things looked bad for Brady and the Patriots. Even though Wells exonerated New England from wrongdoing…that wasn’t going to cut it for Goodell who slapped them with a $1 million dollar fine and two draft picks taken including 2016’s first round selection.
But while the NFL has held on to shady scientific findings by Exponent, Brady’s team released its own findings from AEI which blew the Exponent case out of the water. But the NFL put its own spin on it.
“The NFLPA and Brady didn’t dispute the findings in the Wells Report, based on experiments conducted by Exponent, that the period of time McNally spent in the bathroom was more than enough time for him to release air from each of the footballs.”
“The report said Brady and the NFLPA submitted alternative scientific analysis from AEI and had Dean Snyder, of the Yale School of Management, an economist who specializes in industrial organization speak giving counter arguments to the findings of the Wells Report.”
After “listening” to each argument, Goodell came to the conclusion that “the decline in pressure cannot be explained by environmental, physical or other natural factors. Instead, at least a substantial part of the decline was the result of tampering.”
The NFLPA released a statement of its own, blasting the NFL in no uncertain words:
The Commissioner’s ruling today did nothing to address the legal deficiencies of due process. The NFL remains stuck with the following facts:
- The NFL had no policy that applied to players;
- The NFL provided no notice of any such policy or potential discipline to players;
- The NFL resorted to a nebulous standard of “general awareness” to predicate a legally unjustified punishment;
- The NFL had no procedures in place until two days ago to test air pressure in footballs; and
- The NFL violated the plain meaning of the collective bargaining agreement.
The fact that the NFL would resort to basing a suspension on a smoke screen of irrelevant text messages instead of admitting that they have all of the phone records they asked for is a new low, even for them, but it does nothing to correct their errors.
The NFLPA will appeal this outrageous decision on behalf of Tom Brady.
The Patriots released their own statement on Tuesday stating this:
“We are extremely disappointed in today’s ruling by Commissioner Goodell,” the Patriots said in a statement. “We cannot comprehend the league’s position in this matter. Most would agree that the penalties levied originally were excessive and unprecedented, especially in light of the fact that the league has no hard evidence of wrongdoing.”
“We continue to unequivocally believe in and support Tom Brady. We also believe that the laws of science continue to underscore the folly of this entire ordeal. Given all of this, it is incomprehensible as to why the league is attempting to destroy the reputation of one of its greatest players and representatives.”
There were plenty of people who claimed that Robert Kraft caved in to work a back-door deal for Brady’s suspension and they were certainly left with egg on their faces. And did Goodell handle that situation with kid gloves? No he took a shot at Kraft and the Patriots.
On page 1, paragraph 3, Goodell writes, “The Patriots did not appeal the discipline that was imposed on the club.” That’s league speak for you admitted your guilt Bob. There’s your sign.
So Brady and his team will have to fight on with the deck stacked against them in Federal Court. He’ll need to rally the lawyers and fight the procedural process most of all. While many argue that Brady coming out publicly is a bad thing right now that it will play into the hands of the NFL, I say, it is time for him to speak. Not with a released statement thru the NFLPA or his agent. But it is time for him to speak and tell his side. Baghdad Bob has already spoken, and according to his “sources” second-hand smoke isn’t dangerous….silence though may be.
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