Raise your hand if the mere mention of the words Commissioner or the name Roger Goodell makes your eye twitch.
I consider myself to be a pretty reasonable and patient human being, but scrolling through news headlines that contain photos or the mention of Goodell and accompanying quotes has pushed me to the point where I just get irritated. I turned 40 this past year, and I think maybe I’m approaching the point where my wife may need to be concerned about the type of 50 or 60 year old I’m going to be at this rate. She dislikes this mess as much as I do but laughs about how annoyed I get each time it happens to come up.
I’m probably not alone from that standpoint. 500 days of logic-defying rhetoric and reasoning is enough to make anyone snap and I’m well past the point of no return at this point.
The thing that’s bizarre about this whole situation is there’s got to be something we’re not seeing. There’s got to be some sort of deep-seated dislike for Tom Brady that has caused Goodell to have effectively eliminated any benefit of the doubt for a player who has shattered records and established himself as one of if not the best to ever play the position, while also having never done anything off the field to embarrass himself, or the league he plays for.
Part of me wonders if there’s something Goodell knows that he’s not letting on, or some incredible piece of dirt he has on New England’s future Hall of Fame quarterback that backs up the stance he’s taken to this point. After all, he’s been so Hell-bent on nailing Brady since this whole thing started that he’s pulled no punches as it pertained to public perception. The leak of the “destroyed cell phone” will go down as one of the dirtiest media moments from a guy and a league that is supposed to set the standard for “integrity”.
That move took the focus off of the facts as the public court of opinion began turning on the league, and immediately changed the entire game as it pertained to how the casual follower of this mess felt about Brady. The world latched on to that moment and if you’ve talked to any non-Patriots fan about it, everyone’s mind is already made up that Brady somehow deliberately did something dubious.
The Commissioner clearly seems to believes that, sticking by the original Wells Report. However, despite all the texts that are frequently cited, the thing that’s frustrating is no where within the Wells report is there proof that Brady ever wanted any rules broken or the footballs inflated below the legal limit. In fact, there was evidence to the contrary and this portion of the report proves that point pretty well.
“According to Brady, at some point after the Jets game,” wrote Wells in the report, referring to when the footballs were inflated to nearly 16psi, “and before the game against the Chicago Bears the following weekend, he asked to see a copy of the applicable Playing Rule, learned for the first time that the permissible inflation range was 12.5 to 13.5 psi, and was told that the Patriots typically inflated game balls slightly above 12.5 psi. Brady also stated that, at some point, he felt a football that was inflated to 12.5 psi, and decided that should be the target for all future games because he did “not ever want to get near the upper range again.”
“In addition, Brady stated that he suggested that the Patriots give the game officials a copy of Rule 2 when they delivered game balls prior to each game, so that the officials would know that it was not necessary to inflate them further. He claimed that doing so would help ensure that the officials did not alter the footballs he had approved. Jastremski stated that, starting with the October 26, 2014 game against the Bears, he set all game balls to 12.6 psi (leaving 0.1 psi as a cushion in case air escaped when the officials checked the balls prior to the game).”
That’s right out of the Wells report, and probably the biggest thing that gets lost as Ted Wells tried to take texts between two guys and establish some sort of context. What I came away with is that Brady may have been frustrated with the fact that they didn’t emphasize the point enough to the officials in terms of providing the rule book to the point of being obnoxious every week as it pertained to making sure the footballs were at the lower end of the legal limit. The only ones who can confirm that for sure are the guys involved, but there’s never been the sense that he wanted them deflated below that given all the reports that have been released on the matter.
Here we are over 500 days later, and the NFL is still trying to suspend Brady.
The other thing that’s probably hurting Brady’s case is the fact that it’s pretty clear from the beginning he didn’t think this was a big deal and probably didn’t take it seriously, likely being surprised by something so silly to begin with. His reaction on Dennis & Callahan the morning after the game was evidence enough. From there, the bigger it’s gotten, the more animosity that probably grown between he and Goodell and it’s pretty clear by the comments from his dad that there’s no love lost between the two. But there’s obviously something that has Goodell focused to the point of obsessed where he’s willing to continue spending the league’s millions on taking him down.
“The reality is our rules apply to everybody,” Goodell told the Buffalo media on Monday during a charity golf tournament when asked about his ongoing battle with Brady. “They apply to every player, every team. And that’s something we are going to work hard to maintain and not hand that off to somebody else.”
That comment essentially tells you that he believes 100% Brady broke the rules. yet there’s not a shred of proof to back it up. In fact, there’s more reason to believe “it’s more probable than not” that the NFL found evidence to essentially support the ideal gas law this season when the league conducted their own tests and wouldn’t release the totals, instead saying “spot checks” were done and “there were no violations”.
But I digress. This whole thing is just enough to make your head hurt.
So here we are over 500 days later and Brady’s legal team pulled an end around largely thanks to the addition of Ted Olson, who quickly turned this from a battle between Brady and Goodell to a fight between a union and an employer and commissioner who is unfairly abusing his power and not holding up his end of the collective bargaining agreement. It’s the right approach, and it might be the one that gets Brady on the field to start 2016.
However, with so much at stake Goodell knows that all the power he holds so dear will be taken out of his hands and in the future put into those of more fair and neutral thinking people to dole out discipline based on facts and evidence. Two federal judges have already disagreed with what they’ve seen and heard, while two more felt the NFL’s stance held water. But if a re-hearing is granted, Goodell could find himself with the decision that could change everything thanks to the recent “friend of the court” briefs that were filed
“When it comes to the integrity of the game, that’s the responsibility of the commissioner,” Goodell said. “We’re not going to hand the integrity of the game off to somebody who doesn’t have any involvement in the game. That’s for somebody that understands what’s important in making sure we maintain that. Making sure we maintain the competitiveness of the game.
“The legal system is deliberate. It’s unfortunate, because it does impact on our game,” he said. “We don’t encourage that, obviously. We’d like to get this resolved and move forward.”
Unless of course he loses. Then he’ll be the one to make the legal next move to try and bring Brady down. And he’ll fight on, logic, reason and integrity be-damned.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary