I have some great news for you NFL fans. NFL training camps are starting to get underway. The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings have already gotten started, as they’re playing against each other in the Pro Football Hall of Fame game on August 9, 2015. Many other teams are starting to open up camps in preparation for the upcoming 2015-16 season. I’m very excited about the upcoming season, as I am sure my readers are as well.
The defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots have opened camp on July 23, 2015 for the rookies, and today, July 29, 2015, for the veterans. Well, unless you have been living under a rock, as you already know, the Patriots enter camp with a huge uncertainty at the QB position, thanks to a six month long saga called “Deflategate.” The Patriots were accused of tampering with footballs in the 2014-15 AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts. The Patriots were fined $1,000,000 and lost 2 draft picks. QB Tom Brady was suspended 4 games for “being generally aware” that Equipment Manager James McNally and John Jamstremski were deflating the footballs and for not cooperating with Investigator Ted Wells. Yesterday, on July 28th, 35 days after hearing Brady’s appeal, Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the suspension.
As I am sure many of my readers are worn out from this story, I am as well. In this blog, I will discuss my opinion on Goodell’s decision, and the NFL’s investigation of the whole thing. I will comment on the reaction from Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Bob Kraft. Outside of a possible mention of the results of the court’s outcome, this will be my final word on this controversy.
The NFL’s Investigation and Goodell’s Decision
It has been my belief that this “investigation” was messed up from when the starting gates opened, so to speak. Instead of pulling a poor man’s sting operation, the NFL should have just announced that the Patriots were fined $25,000 for tampering with the footballs. The NFL also could have followed up with saying that they will be announcing new rules to make sure that violations don’t happen in the future. Instead of that, they chose to make a mountain of a molehill and tarnish the reputation of the greatest QB ever in the process. I have felt this way since day one, and the decision by Roger Goodell has not changed my mind.
This so-called “scandal” was created because the New England Patriots are an easy target. In the mind of the general public, thanks to the “experts” at the alphabet network, ESPN, the Patriots win too much and are unfairly seen as “cheaters.” Besides, Roger Goodell knew he screwed up, in the minds of the general public, the Ray Rice case, so this is a way to get himself back in the good graces of the general public. Does anyone really think that had the accusations been against the Denver Broncos, or the Pittsburgh Steelers, there would have been this huge investigation?
As for Goodell’s decision to uphold Brady’s suspension, I wasn’t expecting anything else. He wasn’t “open” or ” fair.” About Tom Brady “destroying” his phone, that’s a red herring. People need to remember that the NFL is driving the message home. The NFL is controlling the message. The NFL LEAKED the FALSE STORY that ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported back in January that 11 of the 12 Patriots footballs were 2 pounds under the legal limit. No one in the NFL corrected the story. Does ANYONE really think any of this is FAIR?
I read Goodell’s 20-page report, and outside of the phone non-story, he basically gave a summary of the Wells Report. Once again, in an attempt to dot every “i” and cross every “t” Goodell addressed every objection raised, such as the Chargers, Vikings and Carolina Panthers messing with the footballs. The problem with that was that the NFL didn’t care about those teams. In the notes, Goodell writes that Brady offered to help retrieve the lost texts, but Goodell declined, saying it would be too much work. ( Brady offered to help NFL gather missing text messages
http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/07/28/brady-offered-to-help-nfl-gather-missing-text-messages/) So, the NFL can’t get a bunch of law school students to look up numbers?
Goodell’s comparing Brady’s violation to PED use is absurd. It also didn’t explain how the Indianapolis Colts, playing with their own footballs only scored 7 points. It doesn’t explain why Brady’s stats increased in the second half of the AFC Championship game with properly inflated balls. Again, Goodell brushed aside all scientific objections, to the almighty Wells Report, including the AEI study. In speaking of the phone, which is a red herring to get headlines, I must remind readers that the NFL does NOT have subpoena powers. The NFL had no right to his phone, besides the NFL already HAD the information from the phones from the two locker room guys, James McNally, and John Jamstremski. As bad as it may look, Brady has a right to dispose of his phone.
As I previously mentioned, Brady offered to help retrieve the lost texts, but the NFL refused. Besides, there’s a logic gap. If this so-called “new information” was so outrageous and “troubling,” why didn’t Goodell increase the suspension? If what Brady allegedly did with his phone was so “detrimental to the League,” why wasn’t the punishment increased? Come now, Commissioner. I think Goodell was clutching at straws. This whole thing was about Goodell re-establishing his power over the players, so he picked Brady to show he could take down a star.
Patriots Owner Robert Kraft
As you know, Patriots owner Robert Kraft was reportedly, and understandably irate, when in early May, the NFL levied the largest fine in NFL history on his team for the Deflategate scandal. The Patriots also lost their 2016 first round draft pick and their 2017 fourth round draft pick. Jamstremski and McNally were let go by orders of the NFL. There were stories going around stating that the Patriots owner would challenge the ruling. As several owners, such as Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, and Steelers owner Dan Rooney, sided with the NFL, and Kraft didn’t want to drag the controversy out any further, Robert Kraft took one for Team Owners, and accepted the penalties “with great reluctance” at the Owners’ Meeting in late May.
Many Patriots fans were not happy with Kraft’s decision, and it appears they may have had a reason not to be. Robert Kraft made a statement before the press on July 29, 2015, expressing his disappointment with Goodell’s upholding Brady’s suspension. (http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/07/29/robert-kraft-tees-off-on/ ) He also stated that he regretted capitulating to the NFL, as far as the penalties. He thought that if he did, Tom Brady’s suspension would be reduced. Kraft said that he couldn’t understand why the league wants to target Brady and Brady’s reputation.
As an NFL observer, it was evident, back in May that Robert Kraft was trying to send some sort of message that if he took the penalties, Goodell would reduce or wipe out the Brady suspension. I was quite skeptical. It goes back to that Wells Report. Goodell hangs onto that report like the Peanuts character Linus hangs onto that blanket. I didn’t think Goodell was going to reduce that suspension, no matter what Kraft did. There’s the alleged influence of a “small minority of owners” that gave me pause.
Looking back on now, Robert Kraft definitely made the wrong move. The penalties the team received are really excessive. I know that some will point to the so-called ” noncooperation” part of the punishment. I think that the Patriots were being punished for Spygate (again), and also for not cooperating as much as the NFL WANTED the Patriots to cooperate. I should remind my readers that the Patriots organization was EXONERATED in the Wells Report, so that’s another reason why Kraft should have challenged the penalties, and why I feel they’re excessive. As for Kraft’s current comments, I have never seen an owner tell his/her commissioner to “stick it where the sun don’t shine” like Kraft did.
Patriots Coach Bill Belichick
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had the opening day of the training camp press conference right after owner Bob Kraft spoke. ( http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/07/29/bill-belichick-on-brady-suspension-its-already-been-addressed/) In usual Belichickian fashion, he gave few answers. Trying to get information from Belichick is like trying to get blood from a stone. However, as you know, Belichick was also EXONERATED in the Wells Report. I will say that in his January press conferences, he did come across as believable. He had his statement and thoughts well prepared. Of course, he didn’t go into any of that, deferring the matter to Bob Kraft’s previous comments.
As for what lies ahead for Belichick, this will be a huge challenge. He has to split reps between Tom Brady and presumed Week One starter Jimmy Garoppolo. The team has to see whether or not Brady can get the injunction, so he can play while appealing. Belichick has to be prepared for the possibility of losing Brady in the middle of the season if the Courts don’t rule in Brady’s favor. They’re in the AFC East, and even though the division appears to have gotten better, and the detractors are giving away the AFC to other teams, I think Belichick will have this figured out.
Patriots QB Tom Brady
After months of silence, Tom Brady made a statement on his Facebook page. ( http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/07/29/tom-brady-im-very-disappointed-i-did-nothing-wrong/ )He basically said that neither he nor the Patriots did anything wrong. He also defended how he disposed of his phone. Brady also said that no offer was made by the NFL. He also said that he was fighting for other players and for his right as a private citizen.
Here’s how I feel about Tom Brady concerning this whole scandal. Was he totally perfect? No. However, I certainly don’t think he’s the evil villain that the NFL and ESPN, the mouthpieces for the NFL, have portrayed Brady to be either. I go back to why he was a target in the first place. He not only wins too much, but people have this wrong perception that his team cheats. In their ridiculous logic, “if the Patriots are cheaters, then Tom Brady has to be one.” He’s also married to a Brazilian Super Model and is handsome. People get the wrong idea that he never worked for it. Success breeds contempt.
As for Brady and his role in this “scandal,” I think he should have handled that January press conference better. He should have done what Belichick did. He should have come out with a prepared statement. Many of those questions were the type to put the man on the defense. Did disposing of his phone on the day he was to be questioned by Ted Well look bad? Yes. However, as I said, the NFL had no right to his, or any other player’s phone, for that matter.
Do I think Brady’s legacy as one of the greatest of all time is tainted? No. Maybe it takes an initial hit by the holier-than-thou folks, but in the long run, he’s going to be fine. He will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day. I do hope that this blip on his record won’t cost him First Ballot status.
This has been the most bizarre scandal since the Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding saga. I have come to the conclusion that this was a case of sour grapes brought on by the Indianapolis Colts because they were tired of the Patriots kicking their butts the last few times the two teams met. The NFL saw a way to get Goodell, who was reeling over the backlash concerning the bungling of the Ray Rice case, back in the good graces of the general public.
Therefore, the NFL decides to start a nonsensical investigation, and for over 5 months, use ESPN to spread lies and innuendo about a team that people already hate and a QB of whom people are jealous. During this time, the NFL whips the general public into a frenzy and then drops a report that’s worth the toilet paper I use. The League gives out very harsh punishments based upon said Report, and in a Kangaroo court, upholds Brady’s suspension. The ruling portrays Brady as a slimeball, and leaves him with the same amount of games as Dallas Cowboys DE Greg Hardy, who committed domestic violence, four. The NFL had the gall to go to court first.
I am glad to see that the NFL has its priorities straight. They got the Big Bad Brady. Perhaps they will concentrate on the minor issues, like domestic violence, or child abuse, or HGH use among NFL players. What about that annoying little issue of CONCUSSIONS, Mr. Goodell? I forgot. You took down Tom Brady. That’s the most important thing in your whole career. Got it.
That’s my final piece on this saga. Brady and the NFLPA are in court, so I am done. I am ready for some actual football. I hope you enjoyed this blog. Feedback is welcome.