Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that Tom Brady‘s four-game suspension has been upheld by the NFL. Love him or hate him, we’ll miss Brady when he’s not on the field. But let’s see this from Brady‘s point of view. Every September since he was a young boy, he has been living and breathing football. What is he going to do without an extremely deflated football in his hand and a game to win? How can he fill this emptiness in his heart? What can Tom Brady do while serving his suspension?
1. Be obscenely and arrogantly wealthy.This will be pretty easy for you to accomplish, Tom. Instead of buying a car, buy 15. Why just settle for a swimming pool that wraps around your house when you can also have one in your kitchen? Or two…
2. Sleep with your ridiculously good-looking model wife. You know you want to, Tom. Now’s your chance!
3. Run for public office. Do I see a Trump-Brady ticket in your future?
4. Get a makeover. A new hairstyle and a snazzy new wardrobe can add up to a WHOLE NEW Tom Brady.
5. Write the great American novel. I’m thinking Gronk fan fiction. Because EVERYONE loves Gronk fan fiction.
6. Take up another sport. You’re already the Michael Jordan of football. Now be the Michael Jordan of BASEBALL!
7. Start filming “Ted 3.” According to Ted the teddy bear, “Tom Brady is a f*cking wicked awesome actor.”
8. Start a feud with Drake and/or Nicki Minaj. You know you want to, Tom…
9. Write season 3 of “True Detective.” Because it can’t be any worse than season 2.
10. Learn how to stop cheating at football. I know it’s going to be tough, but you can do it. I think…
Diane Sevenay, a friend to The Scoop, is a writer and comedian who claims that she “invented the Internet.” Follow her immediately on Twitter at @diane_7a or face dire consequences.
If you are an avid sports fan or just a casual fan, by now you have surely heard of “Deflategate.” The Super Bowl champion New England Patriots are in the spotlight for (GASP!) cheating, once again.
While this is not earth-shattering news in and of itself, it may show a pattern of rule-bending. I’m not accusing the Patriots of anything, but the facts do speak for themselves. Let’s take a look at where this saga is headed.
Fool Me Once…
The 2007 New England Patriots videotaping controversy, widely dubbed “Spygate,” refers to an incident during the National Football League’s 2007 season in which the New England Patriots were disciplined by the league for videotaping the New York Jets’ defensive coaches’ signals during a September 9, 2007 game. The Patriots were videotaping the Jets’ coaches from their own sideline, which is not allowed.
Videotaping opposing coaches is not illegal in the NFL, but there are designated areas allowed by the league to do such taping. The act was deemed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to be in violation of league rules. After an investigation, the NFL fined Patriots head coach Bill Belichick $500,000 (the maximum allowed by the league, and the largest fine ever imposed on a coach in the league’s 80+year history) for his role in the incident, fined the Patriots $250,000, and docked the team their original first-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft, which would have been the 31st pick. The fine garnered significant media attention for being the “maximum amount” an individual could be fined.
When it came time to penalize the Patriots for their latest transgression, the 2007 incident gave the League the precedent they needed to establish a pattern of calculated and deliberate attempts to avoid long-standing rules designed to encourage fair play and promote honest competition on the playing field.
Now we arrive at the current day. The New England Patriots were charged with deflating footballs used in a playoff game. “Deflategate” is a major controversy in the NFL, stemming from allegations that the New England Patriots used underinflated footballs in the AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts on January 18th, 2015.
Depending on who you believe, many claim that the Patriots have been cheating for years and are just now getting caught.
Before you get all hot and bothered, you might be surprised as to who ELSE has been rumored to have doctored footballs before and during games. In a report published by NESN, the Indianapolis Colts may have done the EXACT same thing. The report stated:
The NFL was alerted to the Deflategate situation by the Indianapolis Colts, who lost to the New England Patriots 45-7 in last season’s AFC Championship Game. Turns out the Colts might not be choirboys themselves.
In the Patriots’ Thursday rebuttal to the Wells Report, the team said it supplied evidence about the Colts’ potential wrongdoings. The first came from a Colts-Jaguars game that took place sometime before the 2014 season. “Evidence was also provided that Indianapolis ball boys, in a prior season, had been seen by Jacksonville personnel with ball needles hidden under their long sleeves,” the Patriots wrote in “The Wells Report in Context.” Separately, the Patriots pointed out the Colts took a PSI reading of a football during the AFC title game, which is an NFL rules violation. “Once the game starts, neither team is allowed to gauge the footballs, pump them, or the like. That is solely the province of the referee, who is to be the ‘sole judge’ of whether footballs comply,” the Patriots wrote. “The Colts, with advance concerns about PSI, did not take the issue to the referee. They took the matter into their own hands and had an intern gauge the football. (pg. 63) This conduct was in violation of Rule 2. Nowhere does the Report identify this conduct as a violation of the Rule.”
What are we in, third grade? I got caught cheating, so I’m going to turn you in? What do you think? Is this sour grapes, or do the Colts have some “’splainin” to do?
Brady’s Day in Court
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell decided this past Thursday that he’ll be the one to preside over the appeal filed by Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady.
The NFL said in a released statement, “Commissioner Goodell will hear the appeal of Tom Brady’s suspension in accordance with the process agreed upon with the NFL Players Association in the 2011 collective bargaining agreement.”
The NFLPA did NOT want any part of Goodell, and had specifically requested that a neutral third party hear Brady’s appeal. The Commish decided otherwise.
“Given the NFL’s history of inconsistency and arbitrary decisions in disciplinary matters, it is only fair that a neutral arbitrator hear this appeal,” the NFLPA said in a statement when Brady’s appeal was filed on Thursday. “If Ted Wells and the NFL believe, as their public comments stated, that the evidence in their report is ‘direct’ and ‘inculpatory,’ then they should be confident enough to present their case before someone who is truly independent.”
Under terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Goodell has the option of hearing Brady’s appeal himself, or designating an officer to hear the appeal. The NFL commissioner also could have sent the case to a neutral arbitrator. Obviously, Goodell went with option A.
With Goodell presiding over the appeal, it’s likely going be tough for Brady to get his four-game suspension reduced, mainly because Goodell himself signed off on the punishment.
This can only mean one thing. Lawsuit.
You can bet that once Goodell upholds the 4-game suspension, the NFLPA/Brady/New England Patriots will file suit in Federal Court. One has to wonder what Goodell is thinking. By taking over in hearing Brady’s appeal, Goodell has all but finalized the 4-game suspension, thus opening the door to a major lawsuit. One that he will have a hard time winning.
As numerous outlets have reported, there is no DIRECT EVIDENCE that Brady told anyone to deflate footballs. The Wells Report got as close as possible to pinning the rule-breaking on Brady.
“For the reasons described in this Report, and after a comprehensive investigation, we have concluded that, in connection with the AFC Championship Game, it is more probable than not that New England Patriots personnel participated in violations of the Playing Rules and were involved in a deliberate effort to circumvent the rules.”
Is that the smoking gun?
This will most certainly land in civil litigation, and the League is going to be hard-pressed to win this one. Perhaps Commissioner Goodell should have sat this one out; that’s the only way he can save face over what is quickly becoming his Waterloo.
Ronnie Garcia is the Voice of Reason at The Scoop. He is also an avid guitarist, educator, and all around smarmy guy. You can follow him on twitter @TheRonMann.
A little over a week removed from the emergence of Deflate Gate, and with the dust settled from the numerous press conferences, exclusive reports, and a Super Bowl being hailed as one of the most dramatic in history, I’ve figured out just what happened to those 12 footballs in question three Sundays ago in Foxborough, MA.
By figured out, I mean that I’ve compiled about as airtight (no pun intended) a theory as I’ve heard or read from anyone, after breaking down all of what we know or think we know about the league’s ongoing investigation.
All teams cheat.
By cheat, I mean that all teams look for any extra advantage they can find that, in their estimation, falls between the written and unwritten rules.
The Patriots infamously violated league rules from 2000-07 by recording the signals of opposing coaches from the sidelines, but their defense was to try and tie the rule stating teams could not record “on the field” with another rule dictating that recording devices can’t be used to “aid a team during the playing of a game.”
Unfortunately for them, Roger Goodell hammered Bill Belichick and New England thanks in part to a 2006 memo outlawing recording an opponents signals during the course of a game, regardless of the circumstances.*
Step forward in time to Saturday, January 24th, 2015, and you find Belichick defending his Patriots from another scandal. In the midst of an impromptu press conference on the science of football PSI, he stated, “We as an organization have absolutely followed every rule to the letter,” and “we did everything as right as we could.”
While talking to a good friend of mine who races boats as a hobby, he reminded me of an adage I’ve heard before.
It’s not what’s in the rule book, but what isn’t.
What’s in the rule book is the description of a regulation football with the proper air pressure of 12.5 to 13.5 PSI. Once the Referee has ruled the game balls as up to code, they “shall remain under the supervision of the Referee until they are delivered to the ball attendant just prior to the start of the game.”
A few things to note:
Nowhere in Rule 2 – Section 1 or 2 (the portion of the NFL rulebook pertaining to The Ball) does it stated that a team cannot add or remove air from a game ball.
It is not written what can or can’t be done to the game balls between the time they are handed from the Referee to the ball attendant and kickoff.**
Combine all of this with Ian Rapoport’s revelation that only 1 of the 12 game balls was significantly below 12.5 PSI, while 10 others measured just under regulation, and we come to my theory.
Someone from New England’s staff, likely the ball attendant allegedly captured on video disappearing into a bathroom for 98 seconds with balls in tow, took air out of those footballs.
They just didn’t take them below 12.5 PSI.***
One ball did wind up with substantially less air in it than the others, but that can be accounted for by keeping the needle or air gauge used to accomplish the task in for a few seconds too long.
Tom Bradystressed twiced in his maligned presser that he likes the football to be at 12.5 PSI. Belichick said that even though, “the officials were asked to inflate (the balls) to 12.5 PSI,” that it is, “the official’s discretion to put them where he wants.”
If Brady wants the balls at 12.5 PSI, but the officials can put them up to 13.5, then how do you know that the game balls are inflated to where the QB wants them to be? By having an “elderly” ball attendant take them into a bathroom on his way out to the field and taking some air out. Just not enough to bring the balls below league specs.
I believe Belichick when he says, “We feel like we followed the rules of the game to the letter.”
I believe Brady when he says he, “would never have someone do something that I thought was outside the rules.”
I also find it interesting that no one from the Patriots game day staff has stepped forward and explicitly denied removing air from the game balls.****
The truth is somewhere between what is and isn’t said.
Just like competitors in any sport look for what is and isn’t in the rule book in order to gain the upper hand.
*If anyone tries to tell you the Patriots also recorded the Rams’Super Bowl XXXVI walkthrough practice, remind them that no evidence ever surfaced and the Boston Herald retracted the story they ran that provided this bit of misinformation still circulating today.
**In Chris Mortensen’s initial report, he says that NFL rules do not allow alteration of game balls after they’ve been approved. I could not find that in the rule book posted on NFL.com, but considering a memo sent out in 2006 by the league specifically prohibited recording opponents signals, the Patriots’ history of massaging the rule book to justify their actions doesn’t kill this theory. It would just add to the likelihood that the league punishes the Patriots.
***Human error during the process of removing the air or the atmospheric conditions that Belichick detailed in his January 24th science lesson could account for the balls dropping slightly below the 12.5 PSI mark in the first half.
****Robert Kraft did demand an apology, “if the Wells’ investigation is not able to definitively determine that (the Patriots) tampered with the air pressure.” However, the statement simply put the burden of proof on the NFL, and was not an outright denial of guilt.
Dustin Copening is a Contributor at The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @SNUtilityMan.