Next in deflate-gate circus: Goodell's kangaroo court about to get exposed
Perhaps you have something better to do than follow the hourly machinations of the deflate-gate saga – at this point that would include elective root canal.
This is actually where it may begin to have significant ramifications for the NFL and, most notably, commissioner Roger Goodell, who may be doubling down at a time when the best option could be to lay low. Here are some of the, um, highlights:
The New England Patriots issued a lengthy rebuttal to Ted Wells' report on deflate-gate, findings that Goodell used to conclude that the team and quarterback Tom Brady broke rules involving the inflation levels of footballs in January's AFC title game. This led to sanctions and a suspension.
The Patriots offered some compelling counterarguments and context, and presented some new information. They don't really prove anything though.
Their response was also filled with plenty of comedy, including the conclusion that it's just a coincidence that the guy accused of deflating the footballs, the one who previously referred to himself as "the deflator," called himself that not because he deflates footballs but solely in reference to various weight loss attempts.
Hey, anything is possible, but the Pats might have wanted to quit while they were behind on that item.
(This highlights the scandal's sole victors: billable hours. In this deal, the lawyers are the 2007 season Patriots, only if David Tyree didn't exist. Everyone has a lawyer now, even "the deflator." Brady may need to cut some to hit the 53-man roster. This whole thing is a multimillion dollar feeding frenzy and the attorneys are just getting started.)
Another Patriots "context" attempt focused on when the deflator carried the game balls into a bathroom for 1:40. Wells' report concluded he used that time to deflate the footballs. The Patriots argue that Wells failed to "address whether [1:40] is consistent with the time that it takes a gentleman to enter a bathroom, relieve himself, wash his hands, and leave. In fact, it is."
That's an actual quote. The answer, however, kind of depends on how much beer he drank at the tailgate.
As for an official appeal of the sanctions, Brady's attorneys and the players' union understandably sought an independent judge. Goodell rejected that and deemed no one other than Roger Goodell to be the sufficient appellate authority.
It was Goodell, of course, who "authorized" the initial four-game suspension of Brady.
"We reached these decisions … ," Goodell said in a statement Monday. "We relied on … the thoroughness and independence of the Wells report."
So Brady is going to appeal the thoroughness and independence of Wells' report to the same guy who just found it thorough and independent – not to mention commissioned it and paid for it originally. Good luck.
It sounds ludicrous but the NFLPA agreed to just such a system after the latest labor dispute, which featured a lawsuit best known as Brady v. NFL. So tough break Tom, but you signed off on this Putin-esque system in the first place.
Undeterred, the NFLPA stated in a letter on Friday that it intends to call Goodell as a witness, meaning he would testify at an appeals hearing where he is the appeals judge ruling on the soundness of a prior decision in which he helped make.
NFLPA lawyer: Does it take 1:40 to go the bathroom?
Witness Goodell: No.
Judge Goodell: Let me interrupt this line of questioning to note that I find this witness particularly forthcoming, honest and compelling – and handsome.
Witness Goodell: Thank you, Your Honor. Your wisdom and winning personality are likewise undeniable. By the way, I've got the jet fueled up. You want to go play Augusta?
Judge Goodell: Absolutely. The appeal is denied. Court is dismissed.
No word on who plays George Costanza.
Actually it's just an NFLPA ploy to get Goodell recused. This will be a focus of the inevitable avalanche of actual lawsuits in actual courts of law. As for the NFL process, who knows if it will work because this is clearly a kangaroo court. And that's the part that Goodell should dread becoming the focus here.
As noted in previous columns, it is perfectly logical to follow common sense and believe the deflator did some deflating and Brady was aware of it and still marvel at the lack of NFL pregame protocol and the conduct of the commissioner's office. Further, it's fair to believe that Brady and the Patriots deserve some penalties yet still think this is an overblown story, a misdemeanor Goodell turned into a federal case.
Consider that, as New England notes, after the footballs were measured pregame in the referees' locker room, the deflator "stood up, put the two bags of footballs on his shoulders, and proceeded past all of these NFL personnel and game officials."
So they all watched him walk out with the balls and no one stopped him or said a word? That's probably because no one ever really cared about such a thing because the air pressure inside a football isn't a very big deal. This wasn't a huge violation until Goodell decided to make it one.
If possible, please try to get past all the junk, jokes and ridiculousness here. The most pressing and chilling part for everyone in football remains why did ESPN, a day after the AFC title game, run a story citing "a league source" that said 11 of the 12 Patriots footballs were measured to be more than 2 pounds per square inch below the allowable limit? That story, which suggested significant and organized cheating, turned curiosity into hysteria. It was extremely prejudicial to the Patriots and Brady. It was also completely wrong. Not a single football measured that low and most weren't remotely close to that number. The Patriots couldn't refute it because the NFL told them one ball measured as low as 10.1. That too was false.
So it's fair to ask, did the NFL purposefully leak a damning and dishonest story to ESPN because it wanted to get the Patriots? And even if it didn't, why didn't the league office, which was well aware of the actual measurements and supposedly an unbiased party, fail to step up and publicly correct a bogus and damning story? Did it trump up evidence to discourage the Patriots from arguing their innocence? And why did Goodell decide to build off a false narrative and hire Wells to conduct such a massive investigation?
Does Goodell want everyone asking questions that speak to his competence, rather than some equipment dude's bathroom routine?
For instance, if the NFL is so bent out of shape about seeing Brady's cell phone, why doesn't it hand over the ones belonging to Goodell and his staff so the NFLPA can see who was leaking what to whom? And why?
It's only a matter of time before billable hours start getting to that.