Archive for the ‘ Football ’ Category

Is Brady’s Appeal Against the NFL a Fight He Can Even Win?

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 months 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 something that obviously wouldn’t be a good thing for him.

But not punishing a guilty player properly the first time around shouldn’t be corrected by punishing a potentially innocent player to make a statement.  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.  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.  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 with Brady seemingly on the hook to pay the price, regardless of whether or not he even had anything to do with it.

That’s beyond wrong.  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.  “I just feel that on behalf of everyone in the organization, everyone that’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 a loss in air pressure that lead to the Colts accusations and subsequent league investigation.  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.  He explained it in-depth, citing the scientific reasons behind the results.  That brought out quite a few people who tried to use his press conference as a chance to make themselves relevant, telling the world that Belichick was wrong and full of it.  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 Vinny reference as he explained he wasn’t “an expert in football measurements.”

“I’m just telling you what I know,” said Belichick.  “I would not say that I’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.  However, the only problem is it doesn’t change the fact that what Belichick told the world on that Saturday wasn’t just based on scientific theory.  It was something he witnessed with his own eyes.

The bad news is we live in a world where the perception is generally centered around people who only hear what they want to hear.  Once someone’s mind is made up, there’s usually no changing it.  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.  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.   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, that’s a whole other discussion,” said Belichick after addressing it for the first time when asked during that Saturday press conference. “The guy’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 we’ve been disciplined for that.”

“The guy’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. That’s it. We never did it again. We’re never going to do it again and anything else that’s close, we’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.  But try and explain that to a non-Patriots fan.  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.  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.  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 actually innocent.  It’s doubtful an average person would accept guilt in something they didn’t do just because the majority of people following the case believed they were guilty.

Yet there are people who feel that’s what Brady should do.  That argument is absolutely mind-boggling, but still there are people who feel he’s better off to try and accept the minimum and move on.

At the end of the day, he may not have a choice.  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.  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 which have argued the flawed science behind it and has made a strong case that the Patriots and Brady did nothing wrong.   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.  Basically this has become a one-way street, with the only one that’s supposed to admit any wrongdoing is Brady.  The word “integrity” has been thrown around for months, but it seems like it’s only been used when it’s made the necessary argument.  If at the end of the day Goodell believes Brady didn’t ask anyone to break any rules, he should summon some integrity of his own and go against public perception by doing the right thing and admit the NFL may have actually been wrong.

That appears unlikely and it seems we’re way too far past that.  Brady was said to be sincere and genuine Tuesday when he spent 10 hours in New York trying to prove his innocence.  The bad news for the veteran quarterback is that guilt and innocence don’t seem to be the point anymore, and that’s ultimately the biggest travesty of all of this.

Patriots QB Tom Brady’s DeflateGate Appeal Looms

After over five months and a multi-million dollar investigation, Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will meet as the Patriots quarterback starts the process of appealing his four-game suspension.

Brady will reportedly be in New York for the appeal, which is scheduled for 9:30am on Tuesday and will likely challenge the Wells Report, which most feel failed to provide any significant evidence to prove Brady knowingly asked for the footballs to be inflated below the legal limit, or that anything illegal was done at all after a flawed analysis as it pertains the Ideal Gas Law.

A recent report by AEI took it even a step further, which concluded that it is “unlikely that the Patriots deflated the footballs,” pointing out the difference between how much time had passed as the Colts footballs warmed while the officials were testing the Patriots’ footballs, which seemingly explained why the ones from Indianapolis were within the limits, while New England’s were below.

For the most part the Wells report deals with assumptions and throughout the 243-page report, it fails to come up with any real damning evidence aside from a few cryptic text messages between two Patriots employees who complained about the stringent standards Brady has when it comes to the preparations of the footballs, yet never discusses any real illegal activity or that Brady had any request for them to do anything outside the NFL rule book.

Brady will finally sit down with Goodell on Tuesday. (USA TODAY Images)

The penalty seemed to hinge on the 90 seconds spent in the bathroom by Jim McNally and that with two bags of footballs, McNally had the time to take air out of them before putting them all back in the bag and exiting on his way to the field.

In a report released by the team last month, they claim video footage shows that at no time did McNally act out of the ordinary on his way into the bathroom, or when he exited.   With so much at stake, one would believe that he would have shown more haste and intent on trying to get a job like that done, yet that wasn’t the case.

But for now Goodell isn’t backing down and the two will finally face off Tuesday morning as the process begins to hopefully overturn Brady’s suspension.  Reports have said the veteran quarterback is looking to not only have the penalty removed, but that he’s not accepting any less than full “exoneration”.  When this whole debacle began Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he’d be looking for an apology if the team was found to be cleared of any wrongdoing.  After later backing down to “end the rhetoric”, it’s now in Brady’s hands as he takes on Goodell in what will likely be one of the most significant moments during this process.

Everything seems to indicate he’s prepared to see it through. Brady’s a guy who hates to lose, and hopefully this is a challenge he’s able to win after an investigation that hasn’t proven anything, other than the fact the league needs to acknowledge that they failed to gather all the facts before damaging the legacy of one of the greatest players that represents it.

Let’s face it, Goodell should have done the right thing and looked at the Wells report and realized he needed more than “more probable than not” before imposing this type of penalty.  Instead, he took what Wells gave him and ran with it, which now has the NFLPA and Brady’s lawyers hell-bent on taking him on and potentially bringing a situation that he’s essentially created to the point of no return, and now it may reach a level he’s not going to like.

Hopefully for Brady’s sake, they know what they’re doing.  He seems adamant that he did nothing wrong, and accusing an innocent person is never a good thing, especially when there certainly doesn’t seem to be enough in terms of facts to back up what he’s been charged with.

Fortunately, he’ll finally get his first chance to defend himself Tuesday.

PHOTOS: Patriots QB Tom Brady Gets Ring Number Four

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady joined his teammates at Robert Kraft’s house on Sunday night as the players received their Super Bowl ring after beating the Seahawks earlier this year.

For many of the players, it was their first career championship. For Brady, this was number four and the photo below Tweeted by the team was a reminder of how special a player he really is after this accomplishment.

Most players go their entire NFL careers without ever winning one, so the fact Brady has been able to win four is simply incredible.

It’s still hard to believe he’s currently suspended for the first four games of 2015, although for now the battle quietly continues as Brady is still in the middle of the appeal process with the NFLPA and his legal team.

Some additional photos Tweeted by the team from last night:

NFL Still a No-Go On Adding GoPro Cameras, No Plans At This Time

Here’s a look at the unique perspective fans are missing out on that the NHL recently posted. (via:YouTube)

With the NFL generally known as one of the most innovative leagues in all of sports, the news of the NHL’s partnership with GoPro back in January has to have any fan of football wondering how hockey could be ahead of the curve compared to the NFL when it comes to this part of technology.

Pro Hockey fans got a glimpse during the 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend, giving fans the experience of being able to access point-of-view footage like they’ve never seen before, putting them right on the ice and in the middle of the action.

A video of GoPro footage from former Patriots receiver Brandon Lloyd

It was a brilliant move, and while the NFL has had a couple of moments dabbling into this technology in recent years, the fact they continue to drag their feet while letting a potential revenue stream sit untapped is something that is somewhat of a head-scratcher to say the least.

They’ve already had plenty of success with their online on-demand game service NFL GameRewind, which they’ve since expanded to include the “All-22 Film” which features access to the same practice film the coaches use.  The expanded part of that service was added in June of 2012, and after speaking to someone inside the league’s communications department recently, we were told the service has received “135% growth in the product” since that feature came out, although they wouldn’t say if they felt it was directly tied to that feature.  

Fans have certainly jumped on board. While they wouldn’t release exact totals, we were also told their subscriber numbers overall for the Game Rewind service are “in the six figures but not a million.” That’s not exactly surprising since at $39 and $69 it’s a reasonable investment if you care enough about the game to have access any time to re-watch the broadcast or from the additional angles.

Now just imagine being able to select any player and walk for a little while in a player’s shoes.  Imagine seeing Tom Brady at the line looking right and left with defenders itching to get their hands on him.  Imagine being able to experience Julian Edelman sprinting off on the snap against a corner back and seeing just how difficult it is from his perspective to deal with contact at the line before breaking into his route.   Picture following Rob Gronkowski as he battles with a defensive back before breaking away and catching a touchdown, or watching from Rob Ninkovich’s perspective as he closes in on the quarterback for the sack.

The NFL already offers additional angles during Sunday Night Football for free online, but this is something people would gladly pay money for to get that type of on-field access.  Since the vast majority of the world won’t ever get the opportunity to take the field as a professional football player, this would be about as close as they would get.

Imagine after a big catch-and-run being able to see from Gronkowski’s vantage point as he looks up around the stadium to see 68,000+ reacting to what he just did or seeing it from a teammate’s perspective.  The latter is almost like being right there with him.

The idea of helmet cameras has already started to be tested, with the Patriots using them back in 2013 in practice during the preseason. At the time Bill Belichick said it was something they were taking a look at to see how effective they were.

“It’s something we haven’t done before so we’ll take a look at it and see how effective it is or what we can get out of it,” Belichick said at the time via ESPN Boston. “I’m not sure exactly how effective that will or won’t be, but it’s something we’re trying that’s a little bit new. We’ll see how it goes.”

For now we were told the NFL has no plans at the current time for adding them, but at the end of the day, the league has the people and the resources to figure it out. Some might feel there would be concerns competitively, but those are things that could easily be worked out given what each team stands to gain monetarily. Concerned about giving away secrets or things that could compromise the outcome of the game?  Turn it off inside the huddle, and turn it off when they head to the sideline.  Don’t use audio and have two people there with the service on a delay to take out anything concerning. It’s not that hard to figure out. Better yet, poll all 32 team executives and tell them, “We’re doing this, let’s get together and figure out something that all of us can live with to make this successful.” They could easily begin the process of coming up with a system that works to begin testing it.

Worried about cost or whether or not the demand from the fans will be worth it?  This is different from the end-zone cameras that were a sore subject during the recent league meetings since they wouldn’t bring in additional revenue. Considering this is a league that measures money in the billions, the sting would likely be short-lived and they’ve already seen the success they’ve been able to achieve in just the few short years their current service has been up and running. Social media would easily do its part in spreading the word about what fans were missing out on, with everyone watching clips of big plays made at field level by the players involved each weekend on Twitter or Facebook.  And those clips live on in infamy, which is the wonderful thing about the Internet.

With an opportunity to give rabid fans another product they would likely pay to consume, you have to wonder how much longer they’ll wait before they someday figure out a way to make an idea like this a reality.

Here’s a look from Julian Edelman returning punts while wearing Google Glass. That’s more invasive and players wouldn’t ever wear those during game action for obvious safety reasons, but this provides you with the type of perspective you may some day see.

VIDEO: Three Patriots Standouts From OTA’s So Far

There’s still a long way to go before the regular season, and after two weeks of organized team activities, here’s a quick look at three players who have made some news recently for the New England Patriots.

When Patriots wide recevier Wes Welker left via free agency two years ago, New England did about all they could after signing free agent Danny Amendola, while also elevating the responsibilities of Julian Edelman as they tried to fill the void of what had been one of their more productive receivers.

Most had thought the younger and more athletic Amendola was going to be the Patriots long-term answer after Welker crossed over and joined long-time nemesis Peyton Manning in Denver. However, an injury-riddled first season for Amendola allowed Edelman to ultimately emerge as Tom Brady’s new go-to receiver. While Welker seemingly got the best of his former team in the AFC Championship game that year, one year later the Patriots did something Welker and the Broncos couldn’t do that season.

Beat the Seahawks, and win it all.

Denver was knocked out of the postseason back in January, leaving the Broncos to try and figure out what they’ll do heading into 2015. For now Welker doesn’t appear to be part of that equation, leaving the veteran to explore his options as a free agent.

Could the Patriots bring him back? Welker seems to be hoping that’s the case.

“There’ s no question,” Welker told the Providence Journal’s Mark Daniels on Tuesday. “I don’t know how much I’m on their radar. They’re definitely on mine. We’ll see what happens.”

It’s tough to say if a return would make sense at this point because things have already changed drastically since he left. Brandon LaFell and Edelman are now the primary targets in the offense, with Amendola as another player complementing a group that enjoyed a full season with Rob Gronkowski healthy. They’re all coming back in 2015 and the continuity in the offense last year was terrific.

Welker had a good run in New England, but they don’t need him any more.
(USA TODAY Images)

We know the chemistry between Brady and Welker was great and that the two were, and still are, good friends. But bringing Welker back would essentially give them three players with similar skillsets, and as much as people like to downplay what Amendola’s brings to the offense, his athleticism and physical abilities outweigh where Welker’s at in his career.

The veteran has deteriorated physically and no longer looks like the same player. To make matters worse, he’s suffered multiple concussions in the last two seasons, leaving some wondering if he should finally make the difficult decision to retire.

Welker might be hoping to come back and correct the mistake he seemingly made when he left the first time, but as difficult as it was to see him go, it’s hard not to make the argument that it ended up being a key moment in the Patriots’ history. It gave Edelman the opportunity to emerge and become the key component to New England’s fourth title and it gave the Patriots another player in Amendola, who ended up quietly becoming another important part of the equation. He made some key plays down the stretch, including a touchdown against the Seahawks and he’s got plenty to build on heading into 2015.

Unfortunately coming off of a Super Bowl win, the Patriots need to move forward. Welker gave the team a lot of great memories, but the guys they have now helped bring them a Lombardi Trophy and it just doesn’t seem to make sense to change that.

Week One of OTA’s in the Books, A Few Things We’ve Learned So Far

Given what’s transpired over this offseason, it feels like forever since the Patriots raised the Lombardi Trophy after beating the Seahawks en-route to their fourth Super Bowl title back in February.

It’s been an offseason riddled with an investigation that’s lead to a suspension of quarterback Tom Brady, with little evidence to justify how the Super Bowl MVP could potentially be a spectator in week one in 2015.  It’s been a complete and total mess that’s tarnished what should have been a relatively enjoyable offseason for the players and fans here in New England, but instead it’s been a long road back to the return of football in Foxboro last week.

Last week’s organized team activities signaled the start of a new season, returning a little normalcy to this football team and there were certainly some interesting things that came out of the sessions, which began last Tuesday.  Here’s a quick rundown of a few things we learned as the team started laying some of the groundwork for the upcoming season.

Dobson reportedly looked good during the team’s session on Friday.
(USA TODAY Images)


According to published reports, missing from Friday’s media portion of the practice were Ryan Wendell, Sebastian Vollmer, Jerod Mayo, Jordan Richards, Matthew Slater, Sealver Siliga, Chandler Jones, AJ Derby, Jamie Collins, Alan Branch, Malcolm Butler, Brandon LaFell, Dont’a Hightower and Chris Jones among the players not on hand.

Last week’s sessions weren’t mandatory, and one notable absence was Butler coming off of his Super Bowl heroics.  In his absence Logan Ryan was among players who saw increased reps, and he’s going to be a player to keep an eye on as he heads into his third season as the team begins sorting out the loss of free agents Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, as well as the release of Kyle Arrington and Alfonzo Dennard.

Newcomer Brandon Spikes got some increased reps with so many linebackers being absent, with Hightower (who is also recovering from offseason shoulder surgery), Mayo (who is also coming back from knee surgery), and Collins not reportedly on hand Friday.  Spikes seems relatively upbeat now that he’s back in New England, and his history of jarring hits should make him a fun player to watch this season if he’s able to have a strong camp and re-establish a role in the defense.

With LaFell absent both Aaron Dobson and Brian Tyms got some additional reps, and most reports seem to indicate that Dobson looked strong during Friday’ session.  Obviously it’s a little early to make any real determinations, but most reports have said Dobson has worked hard this offseason, so hopefully this might end up finally being a good year for the 6’3″ receiver out of Marshall.


Special teams captain Matthew Slater has been around for a while and he’s used to the fact New England’s seasons usually run well into the postseason, although fortunately this time around he walked away a Super Bowl champion.  Now it’s all about trying to hit the reset button as he heads into a new season, and he said on Thursday that they have to approach it that way because last year is now in the rear view mirror.

“Nobody cares what we did last season,” Slater said via “Obviously we have a bunch of new guys here, guys that weren’t here last year. It’s a new team, a new season. If we don’t approach it as such, we’re going to have some problems.”

Slater wasn’t on hand Friday but his comments on Thursday are somewhat telling as he talked about how important it was to recharge and get himself ready to go all-in at the start of each new year.

“I think it’s so important to recharge physically and mentally,” Slater said. “If you don’t, I think it can become problematic so it’s important to have that downtime and then transition to the next season.”


Tough to take much away from Friday’s outing, with Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo splitting the snaps and getting equal work in. Both reportedly were sharp during 11-on-11 drills, with Brady completing 7-of-11 passes while Garroppolo went 8-for-11, including a touchdown to Fred Davis at the end of the drill.

One thing mentioned by ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss is the fact that of all the back-ups the Patriots have had in recent years, Garoppolo appears to finally be the answer they’ve been looking for behind Brady.  That’s good news considering that ever since Matt Cassel was dealt years ago, there wasn’t a lot of confidence in previous back-ups Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallett.  Now it seems like New England may have a guy who can perform well enough in his absence, which might, unfortunately, be necessary should his suspension cause him to miss time.


There has been plenty of discussion about free agent acquisition Scott Chandler this offseason, who gives the Patriots a major weapon opposite Rob Gronkowski at the tight end position.  The media got a glimpse of him Friday, with the 6’7″ Chandler standing out in a big way during the team’s session.

The thought of what the two could do together is certainly enticing, and while it’s tough to take much away from what happens this early in the process, it’s still hard not to be a little intrigued about what the future might hold for the two this season.  This is a pretty strong offensive group in general that the Patriots will be fielding in 2015 since they’re returning a pretty productive unit from 2014 and if everyone’s healthy, one would expect they should be able to do some serious damage again this time around as well.

VIDEO: 2015 Patriots Player Preview Series – Julian Edelman

With the 2015 Patriots Training Camp now just a couple of months away, we’re going to be putting together a series of videos previewing a variety of Patriots players and today’s features veteran wide receiver receiver Julian Edelman:

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After Kraft’s Announcement, There’s Got to Be More to It Than This

Kraft surprised everyone after ending his fight against the NFL on Tuesday. (USA TODAY Images)

Patriots owner Robert Kraft is one of the smartest guys in the league. He’s been through some difficult times both as an owner here in New England and as an ambassador of the NFL and he’s always come up with a plan of attack that after all was said and done, somehow eventually made sense.

That’s why after what we heard during his announcement on Tuesday, there’s got to be more to his decision to give up his fight against the NFL.

There’s got to be a reason why he believes it’s O.K. to just surrender a 1st and 4th round draft pick over something he seemed to believe with all his heart his team didn’t do. There’s got to be a reason why he’s not willing to continue this battle after he appeared to really feel so strongly that his club was being wrongly accused.

There has to be.

After all, four months ago a defiant Kraft was on a rampage, having seen his team win an AFC Championship and earn a well-deserved Super Bowl berth, only to have it torn down by allegations of intentionally using under-inflated footballs after blowing out the Colts, who we later found out phoned in the report leading up to it.

He led the charge and every Patriots fan lined up behind him.  He was defiant.  He was admirable.  He won over everyone’s hearts when he said in one of the most memorable press conferences that he planned on demanding an apology if the team was cleared of any wrongdoing.

When the Wells report came out a couple of weeks ago, he seemed as though he still believed just as deeply that Tom Brady and his organization weren’t being treated fairly in the investigation, expressing his frustration publicly over it.

“When I addressed the media at the Super Bowl on January 26 — over 14 weeks ago — I stated that I unconditionally believed that the New England Patriots had done nothing inappropriate in this process or in violation of the NFL rules and that I was disappointed in the way the league handled the initial investigation,” said Kraft.  “That sentiment has not changed.”

“I was convinced that Ted Wells’ investigation would find the same factual evidence supported by both scientific formula and independent research as we did and would ultimately exonerate the Patriots. Based on the explanations I have heard and the studies that have been done, I don’t know how the science of atmospheric conditions can be refuted or how conclusions to the contrary can be drawn without some definitive evidence.”

“To say we are disappointed in its findings, which do not include any incontrovertible or hard evidence of deliberate deflation of footballs at the AFC Championship Game, would be a gross understatement.”

Kraft was so adamant about his team’s innocence during Deflate-Gate that Tuesday’s announcement came as a surprise. (USA TODAY Images)

Over the weekend Kraft talked to the MMQB’s Peter King, expressing his frustration over the situation, doubting the evidence against them and how they were being treated.  And he sounded seriously angry over it.

“This whole thing has been very disturbing,” Kraft told King. “I’m still thinking things out very carefully. But when you work for something your whole life …

“I just get really worked up. To receive the harshest penalty in league history is just not fair. The anger and frustration with this process, to me, it wasn’t fair. If we’re giving all the power to the NFL and the office of the commissioner, this is something that can happen to all 32 teams. We need to have fair and balanced investigating and reporting. But in this report, every inference went against us … inferences from ambiguous, circumstantial evidence all went against us. That’s the thing that really bothers me.

“If they want to penalize us because there’s an aroma around this? That’s what this feels like. If you don’t have the so-called smoking gun, it really is frustrating. And they don’t have it. This thing never should have risen to this level.”

He’s right, it shouldn’t have.  The only problem is the league chose to mishandle the whole situation from the beginning.  Had they simply sent out a warning to both teams prior to the AFC Championship game and had the referees also properly checked the footballs both before the game, and at halftime (with gauges that both actually worked correctly and gave identical readings…you can’t make this up), this entire situation could have been avoided.  

Instead, that didn’t happen and the NFL took the Colts suspicions and ran with them, all the while failing to put together a proper protocol to fairly deal with it.  By the time it was over their independent investigation seemingly took that premise and crucified the Patriots over two ball boys texting ridiculous things back and forth. The best part was the NFL felt that 100 seconds in a bathroom was enough time to take over a dozen footballs out of a huge equipment bag, put them on a slightly sloped floor, take a little air evenly out of each one, and then put them all back in the bag.  

In 100 seconds. Experts argued that it was enough time in perfect circumstances, but given the readings and how close they were (and they could have potentially been even closer if the two gauges actually worked right) James McNally must have done an incredible job letting out that precise amount of air as he was allegedly furiously flying around with each of those footballs sprawled out all around him in that time frame.

That seems pretty unlikely, but it didn’t matter. Those two things were enough to reach a conclusion that it was “more probable than not” it happened and that somehow Brady was guilty for being “generally aware” of it.  The more I type that, the more ridiculous it sounds each and every time I do it.

Kraft seemed to feel the same way.  When the Patriots got upset and Kraft essentially declared war on the league, the battle seemed to be on and most fans out there stood behind him as he took on the multi-billionaire behemoth that is the NFL.  He was leading the march right down to New York, a place most people tend to strongly dislike anyway since it houses one of their AFC East rivals as well as another team they share a stadium with who twice stole Super Bowls in the closing seconds, one of which ruined a potentially perfect season.

There was talk he’d even take the league to court.  This sounded like a man so determined that he believed his team was innocent, that the sincerity he spoke with was beyond inspiring.  He’s been a guy who has always put the fans at the top of the list and now they were rallying behind both he and Brady more than ever before.   The best part was, it looked like the only man potentially powerful enough to take down Roger Goodell was poised to launch one of the biggest assaults in the history of the league and every fan in this region, and around the country, were ready to follow him into this epic fight.

Just three days ago he told King that he truly believed they didn’t do anything wrong, questioning the evidence – or the lack thereof – most notably the recollection of Walt Anderson and the fact that things like logic and science were ignored.

“Anderson has a pregame recollection of what gauge he used, and it’s disregarded, and the [Wells] Report just assumes he uses the other gauge,” Kraft told King. “Footballs have never been measured at halftime of any other game in NFL history. They have no idea how much footballs go down in cold weather or expand in warm weather. There is just no evidence that tampering with the footballs ever happened.”

Now here we are, just days later and their looming battle is suddenly no more.  Somewhere between Saturday and Tuesday something happened, and Kraft changed his mind.  As he spoke on Tuesday, what seemed to weigh heavily on him was whether or not he wanted to undergo what would likely be a long, drawn out battle that he didn’t sound ready for.

“I have two options: I can try to end it or extend it,” said Kraft on Tuesday.  “I have given a lot of thought to both options. The first thing that came to mind is 21 years ago, I had the privilege of going to a meeting similar to what we’re at here, in Orlando, and being welcomed in an NFL owners’ meeting. Here’s a fan and a former season ticket holder living a dream and being welcomed in that room. I got goosebumps that day. I vowed at that time that I would do everything that I could do to make the New England Patriots an elite team and hopefully respected throughout the country and at the same time, do whatever I could do to try to help the NFL become the most popular sport in America.”

“Before I make a final decision, I measure nine times and I cut once. I think maybe if I had made the decision last week it would be different than it is today. But believing in the strength of the partnership and the 32 teams, we have concentrated the power of adjudication of problems in the office of the commissioner. Although I might disagree with what is decided, I do have respect for the Commissioner and believe that he’s doing what he perceives to be in the best interest of the full 32.”

At that point, most fans braced themselves for what they hoped wasn’t coming.  But it did.

“So, in that spirit, I don’t want to continue the rhetoric that’s gone on for the last four months,” continued Kraft.  “I’m going to accept, reluctantly, what he has given to us and not continue this dialogue and rhetoric. We won’t appeal.”

Just like that, the battle was over.

It’s hard to understand, but the decision to accept the punishment is essentially an admission of guilt, whether most people, Kraft included, like it or not.  That’s hard to endure given that he just got everyone ready to follow him through whatever war was waiting, only to surrender without a shot being fired.

Now it’s just his quarterback continuing the fight, and Brady seems ready to see this through to the end.  His lawyers and the NFLPA seem to be gearing up for whatever obstacles remain ahead of them, and with a four game suspension staring him down, the hope now is that somehow they’ll get that ridiculous penalty thrown out.

Some believe Kraft’s decision to give up was a move done in good faith to hopefully buy his signal-caller an opportunity to be on the field for the season opener.  Other reports seem to signal the contrary, but the only one who truly knows the reasons behind Tuesday’s speech is Kraft.

But there’s got to be more to it than we know.  There has to be.

For now most fans are frustrated and confused, and rightly so.  But the story still needs to play out a little longer for us to truly know what his plan really is.

Kraft ended his speech Tuesday saying that he hopes fans trust his judgement.

“I know that a lot of Patriots fans are going to be disappointed in that decision,” said Kraft. “But I hope they trust my judgment and know that I really feel at this point in time that taking this off the agenda, this is the best thing for the New England Patriots, our fans and the NFL. I hope you all can respect that.”

It would just make it a little easier if we could understand it.

Hopefully we’ll eventually find out there’s more to this and it will all eventually make sense. Because up until right now, none of it, from the entire time this ridiculous mess blew up, and what just happened Tuesday, has made any sense at all.

Brady’s Agent Responds, “The Discipline is Ridiculous”

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady saw his agent, Don Yee, release a statement on Monday night in response to the league’s suspension of his client and he’s not impressed with the NFL’s penalty coming off of last week’s release of the Wells report.

Yee believes the four game suspension will get overturned in front of a “neutral” judge or arbitrator.

“The discipline is ridiculous and has no legitimate basis,” wrote Yee via ESPN Boston.  “In my opinion, this outcome was pre-determined; there was no fairness in the Wells investigation whatsoever.  There is no evidence that Tom directed footballs be set at pressures below the allowable limits.  In fact, the evidence shows Tom clearly emphasized that footballs be set at pressures within the rules.  Tom also cooperated with the investigation and answered every question presented to him.  The Wells report presents significant evidence, however, that the NFL lacks standards or protocols with respect to its handling of footballs prior to games; this is not the fault of Tom or the Patriots.  The report also presents significant evidence the NFL participated with the Colts in some type of pre-AFC Championship Game planning regarding the footballs.  This fact may raise serious questions about the integrity of the games we view on Sundays.  We will appeal, and if the hearing officer is completely independent and neutral, I am very confident the Wells Report will be exposed as an incredibly frail exercise in fact-finding and logic.  The NFL has a well-documented history of making poor disciplinary decisions that often are overturned when truly independent and neutral judges or arbitrators preside, and a former federal judge has found the commissioner has abused his discretion in the past, so this outcome does not surprise me.  Sadly, today’s decision diminishes the NFL as it tells its fans, players and coaches that the games on the field don’t count as much as the games played on Park Avenue.”