(We kicked this column off on Monday and then got delayed due to working on a server upgrade, which has finally been completed. So we’ll start this again this morning, which will run each day Monday through Saturday this offseason)
TODAY’S TOPIC: Brady Took a Tough Hit in Court On Thursday:
Raise your hand if you’re a little irritated this morning.
If you’re not, you obviously missed the news about how Tom Brady’s appellate hearing went on Thursday. The two sides stood in front of a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York yesterday, with both Brady’s lawyers and the NFL making their oral arguments.
It didn’t go quite as well for Brady as one would have hoped, with Jeffrey Kessler, the attorney for the NFLPA, not being quite his normally brilliant self as he faced three judges who made him look much more human than he did in front of Judge Berman prior to Brady’s suspension being overturned.
This group had zero issue going after him and questioning each argument he attempted to make in defense of his client. But one of the most frustrating parts of Thursday was that what started with Kessler trying to argue the process and the fact NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell acted outside the scope of his powers in his suspension of Brady, it instead turned into arguing the facts of the investigation where there was seemingly clear bias in terms of how the judges obviously felt coming in.
“I sense that you all are influenced by your version of the facts,” a frustrated Kessler told the judges.
Kessler’s argument was the fact he argued that the league’s Uniform and Equipment Policy, which he believes should have resulted, at worst, in a fine for Brady. However, one of the judges took issue with that notion and interpreted that the policy Kessler cited as applying to just the equipment worn by a player, not the actual footballs. Another took issue with the argument Kessler tried to make again regarding the lack of “notice” given to Brady that he would be suspended for that type of conduct, calling that argument “hyper-technical”.
That judge was Barrington D. Parker, who even took it a step further and wondered if the destruction of Brady’s cell phone alone was enough to suspend him.
“Let’s suppose a mistake was made and the footballs weren’t deflated, and then a star player lies in his testimony and destroyed his phone,” Parker said via the Boston Globe. “An adjudicator might conclude the phone had incriminating evidence. Why couldn’t the commissioner suspend Brady for that conduct alone?”
The cell phone was a fact that was brought up repeatedly Thursday, and Parker also said that “the cellphone issue raised the stakes”, and felt that Brady’s explanation of why he did it “made no sense whatsoever.”
So while the “facts” of the case were argued, the fact that Brady provided all texts, emails, and other materials that had been requested and simply didn’t turn over the phone, didn’t seem to be a point of emphasis. Instead, Brady “recycling” his cell phone appears to be something that’s influencing the judges anyway.
They also came back to the fact that under the CBA, provided it’s a reasonable punishment, Goodell has the power to punish players who threaten the “integrity of the game” and that the courts have no basis to overturn that punishment.
The most damning quote of the day came from judge Denny Chin, who sounds like he definitely believes Brady was involved in something fishy.
Said Chin, “the evidence of ball tampering is compelling, if not overwhelming.”
Most reporters who were on hand to see what transpired, they seem to believe that 2 of the 3 judges will rule in favor of the league, which is bad news for Brady and could mean that depending how this plays out, he could see his four game suspension reinstated to begin the season. There’s hope that if it doesn’t go his way it could still be appealed and go as high as the US Supreme Court, although it’s still tough to say what would happen from there.
Brady’s been at his best when playing from behind with the ball in his hands. In this case, his future is something he won’t have any control over, and there’s enough doubt to believe he may get sacked in the coming months if the league’s lawyers get their way.
It’s a frustrating situation to say the least and for the second straight year, that cloud will once again be hanging over Brady and the Patriots in the coming months. Hopefully Jimmy Garoppolo is working hard heading into his second season, because a lot of the confidence fans had that the league had no shot in overturning this certainly took a big hit on Thrusday.
Today’s 5 Best Links:
1) Tom Brady could be in trouble after Deflategate appeal hearing – Michael McCann (SI.com) – McCann takes a great look at yesterday’s trial and offers more details of what went down, and writes that there was significant skepticism expressed to wonder if he may be suspended.
2) At appeal hearing, Brady’s lawyer is pressed hard by judges – Ben Volin (Boston Globe) – Volin writes that while it may be a couple of months, if Thursday’s hearing is any indication, Brady might have suffered his first crushing defeat of the 2016 season.
3) Patriots and DT Sealver Siliga amicably set to part ways – Mike Reiss (ESPN) – Reiss reports on the fact that the Patriots informed Siliga on Thursday that they don’t plan to tender him as a restricted free agent, which will allow him to become a free agent.
4) Brandon Gibson No Longer in Patriots’ Plans; Receiver To Be a Free Agent – Doug Kyed (NESN) – Kyed reports that the Patriots don’t plan to re-sign unrestricted free-agent receiver Brandon Gibson, with the receiver also alluding to that fact via a Tweet.
5) Lack of transparency on Deflategate made journalism tougher to judge – Jim Brady (ESPN) – ESPN Public Editor Jim Brady posted a piece on Thursday admitting the network ‘mismanaged’ its Deflategate coverage while calling Patriots fans ‘paranoid’.
1) Facebook Wants to Pay for NFL Streaming Rights But Apple Doesn’t – Peter Kafka (Recode.net) – With the NFL set to sell off their digital rights to Thursday Night Football games, Facebook is now showing interest in broadcasting them.
2) Albert Haynesworth on condition: ‘A lot of things, I just can’t remember’ – Paul Kuharsky (ESPN) – Former New England Patriots defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth revealed on Nashville radio station 104.5 The Zone on Thursday that Bain aneurysms nearly killed him in November 2014.
3) NFL player mistaken for robber while looking at a gym he wanted to buy (AOL.com) -Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor sent out a series of tweets on Wednesday night in which he said employees called police on him while he was checking out an athletic club he was thinking about buying.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“The connection he (Brady) has with Gronkowski, I don’t think there has ever been a connection like that in the National Football League. Some of the time, he doesn’t even need offensive linemen; it’s just ‘throw it to Gronkowski.’ Those last couple of plays in our game, the connection with him and Gronkowski, I’ve never seen it before. I was nervous. Gronkowski was on fire. Brady was on fire.” – Denver defensive end Von Miller on NFL Network’s “Total Access” Program talking about Brady and Gronkowski via WEEI.com.
SOCIAL POST OF THE DAY:
Brandon LaFell offers up a good-bye to Patriots fans and shows his appreciation.
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