Brady remains entrenched in a battle he may not be able to win. (USA TODAY Images)
This is how out of hand things have gotten.
Five monthsÂ since DelfateGate started, Tom Brady remains in a battle he seemingly can’t win against a commissioner who seems like he’s got plenty to lose himself as this ridiculous scandal continues on.
After nearly losing his job last year during the whole Ray Rice fiasco, Goodell is now in a position where even if he realizes how horrifically flawed the Wells Report was, reversing Brady’s punishment could put him back in the crosshairs, which is somethingÂ that obviously wouldn’t be a good thing for him.
But not punishing a guilty playerÂ properly the first time around shouldn’t be corrected by punishing a potentially innocent player to make a statement. Â Ask anyone why they think Goodell won’t eliminate Brady’s suspension and the answer is always the same: he can’t because of how it will make him look after the millions spent on the Wells report and everything else that’s transpired along with it.
And honestly, that’s really the bigger problem with what’s going on here.
In the real world, a guilty or innocent verdict is supposed to be decided by an impartial party with nothing to lose or gain either way. Â It’s not supposed to be decided by someone with so much at stake, but that’s where we are right now and all that’s left is to wait and see what Goodell’s decision will be after Tuesday’s hearing.
Looking back, this whole story has become a media circus that’s gone beyond logic and reason at this point. Â What could have – and should have – been quietly solved behind closed doors instead blew up into a national story that became bigger than it needed to be, and now this monster has reached the point of no return withÂ Brady seemingly on the hook toÂ pay the price, regardless of whether or not he even had anything to do with it.
That’s beyond wrong. Â If you go back and follow how this whole mess unfolded, the Saturday press conference following the AFC Championship Game by Bill Belichick was one of the most telling moments of this entire process, and the one that certainly sticks out among everything that’s happened.
The normally media-resistant coach, the master of “ignore the noise”, was seemingly so irritated by everything being written and said about the club that he opened the press conference by announcing his reasoning for calling it because he clearly wanted to try and set the record straight.
“I feel like this is important because there have been questions raised and I believe now 100 percent that I have personally, and we as an organization, have absolutely followed every rule to the letter,” said Belichick. Â “I just feel that on behalf of everyone in the organization, everyone thatâ€™s involved in this organization, that we need to say something.”
Belichick – very wisely after already having been down this road previously with the league during the spygate mess, which we’ll get to in a moment – waited until he had all the facts before formulating a response, which involved the team reenacting the football preparation process that they go through on a weekly basis to try and understand why there was aÂ loss in air pressure that lead to the Colts accusations and subsequent league investigation. Â As he does with everything else, he was thorough in making sure he understood exactly what happened and why the Patriots’ footballs tested below the 12.5 psi requirement by the NFL. Â He explained it in-depth, citing the scientific reasons behind the results. Â That brought out quite a few people who tried to use his press conference as a chance to make themselves relevant, tellingÂ the world that Belichick was wrong and full of it. Â They poked fun and tried to poke holes in things that he said, even though Belichick readily admitted this wasn’t exactly his forte, using a My Cousin VinnyÂ reference as he explainedÂ he wasn’tÂ “an expert in football measurements.”
“Iâ€™m just telling you what I know,” said Belichick. Â “I would not say that Iâ€™m Mona Lisa Vito of the football world, as she was in the car expertise area, alright?”
The experts mocked him and discredited his results. Â However, the only problem is it doesn’t change the fact that whatÂ Belichick told the world on that Saturday wasn’t just based on scientific theory. Â It was something he witnessed with his own eyes.
The bad news isÂ we live in a world where the perception is generally centered around people whoÂ only hear what they want to hear. Â Once someone’s mind is made up, there’s usually no changing it. Â That was brought front and center during that same afternoon when a reporter decided that he’d bring up the topic of spygate, yet another topic that left the Patriots in bad shape in the public eye and continues to plague them in the court of public opinion.
It’s another frustrating topic to try and discuss, since any non-Patriots fan who didn’t follow it closely still believes Belichick’s team broke the rules competitively, which wasn’t the case. Â New England was punished for a procedural violation, ignoring a requirement by the league that prevented teams from using video equipment from the sidelines, while many other teams were using video equipment from other parts of the field. Â By league rules the footage was never used during games and it was done primarily to steal defensive signals from the other teams, a widespread practice around the NFL that went back undercover after the incident was placed in the spotlight thanks to an angry then-Jets head coach Eric Mangini.
“I mean, look, thatâ€™s a whole other discussion,” said Belichick after addressing it for the first time when asked during that Saturday press conference. “The guyâ€™s giving signals out in front of 80,000 people, OK? So we filmed him taking signals out in front of 80,000 people, like there were a lot of other teams doing at that time, too. Forget about that. If we were wrong then weâ€™ve been disciplined for that.”
“The guyâ€™s in front of 80,000 people. 80,000 people saw it. Everybody [on the] sideline saw it. Everybody sees our guy in front of the 80,000 people. I mean, there he is. So, it was wrong, we were disciplined for it. Thatâ€™s it. We never did it again. Weâ€™re never going to do it again and anything else thatâ€™s close, weâ€™re not going to do either.”
Goodell came down hard on the Patriots for that primarily because a memo was sent out prior to when it happened, which since the Patriots seemingly ignored it, seemed to be the reason the penalty was as harsh as it was. However, one small part that tends to get overlooked by those who feel it was just the Patriots involved in that practice was the fact all of the evidence was destroyed by the league. That should have been an indication about the fact that Belichick likely exposed how widespread the practice was and the NFL decided to simply sweep the matter under the rug having already embarrassed New England enough while likely preventing any additional team from public embarrassment.
What people don’t realize is that the Patriots never cheated, they just ignored a memo asking teams to essentially be a little more discrete about the practice of trying to steal opponents signs.Â But try and explain that to a non-Patriots fan. Â And then go punch yourself in the face, it will probably be less painful.
Some believe that even if he’s innocent, Brady should just concede against the NFL.
(USA TODAY Images)
Public perception “is what it is” and you can’t change the minds of people whose mind is already made up. Â The sad thing is there are people out there who feel Brady shouldn’t continue his fight feeling that, win or lose, it’s not going to change the minds of people who already believe he broke the rules.
That’s hardly the point. Â Just because you’re accused of a crime that’s gotten a lot of play in the media and has shaped public perception of your guilt doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fight it if you’re actuallyÂ innocent. Â It’s doubtful an average person would accept guilt in something they didn’t do just because the majority of people following the caseÂ believed theyÂ were guilty.
Yet there are people who feel that’s what Brady should do. Â That argument is absolutely mind-boggling, butÂ stillÂ there are people who feel he’s better off to try and acceptÂ the minimum and move on.
At the end of the day, he may not have a choice. Â The difference between this and an actual legal battle is the fact that he’s being punished by the company he essentially works for under the terms of a labor agreement he’s under for that company. Â That leaves him without a lot of options, but clearly he’s going to try and exhaust all of them before he makes the decision to call it quits.
Following the Wells Report, there have been additional studies whichÂ have argued the flawed science behind it and has made a strong case that the Patriots and Brady did nothing wrong. Â Â It’s pretty sad that if Brady is, in fact, innocent Goodell doesn’t seem prepared to admit the mistake, which if you really think about, it absolutely is unbelievable.
But that’s unfortunately what it’s come to. Â Basically this has become a one-way street, with the only one that’s supposed to admit any wrongdoing is Brady. Â The word “integrity” has been thrown around for months, but itÂ seems like it’sÂ only been used when it’s madeÂ the necessary argument. Â If at the end of the day GoodellÂ believes Brady didn’t ask anyone to break any rules, heÂ should summon some integrity of his own and go against public perception byÂ doing the right thing and admit theÂ NFLÂ may have actually beenÂ wrong.
That appearsÂ unlikely and it seems we’re way too far past that. Â Brady was said to be sincere and genuine Tuesday when he spent 10 hours in New York trying to prove his innocence. Â The bad news for the veteran quarterbackÂ is thatÂ guilt and innocence don’t seem to be the pointÂ anymore, and that’s ultimately the biggest travesty of all of this.