On January 18, 2015, the New England Patriots hosted the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game for the right to go to Super Bowl 49. The Patriots demolished the Colts by a score of 45-7. As we all know, the Patriots went on to defeat the then defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks, and become Super Bowl 49 Champions. QB Tom Brady became SB MVP for the third time in his career. The Patriots also had broken a ten year drought.
To explain this, the rule is that a properly inflated football has to be between 12.5 and 13. 5 psi (pounds per square inch). The Patriots were accused of purposely deflating the footballs, so QB Tom Brady could have a better grip on the ball. The outrage by columnists, fans, and the American public was incredible. It was way more than the outrage over Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson. Anyway, both Patriots Coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady gave separate conferences. All this followed the team to the aforementioned Super Bowl, which the team won.
Now, we fast forward to May 6th of this year. It was over 100 days since Ted Wells, an attorney who was assigned to investigate this rather crazy case. After all the hype and energy and money that has been put into this case, the Wells Report found that “it was more probable than not” that the Patriots purposely deflated the footballs. Wells also concluded that QB Tom Brady was “generally aware” that Equipment Manager James McNally and John Jamstremski were deflating the footballs with his (Brady’s) knowledge.
After more hysteria from the media, and the American Public, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell dropped the hammer, and suspended QB Tom Brady for four games. The Patriots were hit with a $1 Million dollar fine, the highest in NFL history. The Patriots were docked their 2016 first round draft pick and their 2017 fourth round draft pick. Many pundits and fans have had their say about the whole event. I’m going to give my five thoughts on this entire debacle.
1. THE VIOLATION ITSELF OVERBLOWN
Much has been made about the violation itself. People are going crazy. Some are comparing deflating a football to using a PED, or to what the Saints did. People need to slow down. Acting like Tonya Harding’s hoodlums and, putting a pin in a football are not related at all. To me, it’s like a baseball player using a bat with pine tar, a la MLB Hall of Famer George Brett. ESPN’s Mark Schlereth was fined $5,000 for putting Vaseline on his arms. It was rescinded, but you get my point. While I am NOT advocating rule breaking, people are making this way more than it is.
2. THE WELLS REPORT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE.
I have read the Wells Report, and I just don’t get the impression that it’s a slam dunk. The issue of different guages being used bother me. Referee Walt Anderson’s not being sure which guage he used is bothersome. Ted Wells now says that It doesn’t matter what guage was used. Well, if Wells and the NFL want to nail the greatest QB in the NFL, they should not be so cavalier with details. If this was such a huge deal to the NFL, Well should not have included sketchy details. His information needed to be way more accurate.
Walt Anderson also said that the balls were gone for a time. Well, when the balls showed up, why weren’t they retested? When the Colts first made the complaints, why did the NFL allow the game to go on? Why didn’t the NFL tell the Patriots that they (the Patriots)were busted before and that the NFL had heard some complaints, and if the Patriots didn’t stop, they’d be busted again? Why was Ron Grigson, the Colts’ GM, allowed to make a complaint based on rumors and gossip? Is this how the NFL is going to be run?
Do those texts and emails look damning to Tom Brady? Yes. I am not saying they don’t. However, they sound more like they’re sarcastic jokes. As for Brady and his phone, if this investigation were not the witch hunt that it was, maybe he should have done it. However, I think he did the right thing. I don’t think I would turn in my phone, especially to the NFL.
3. GOODELL WENT TOO FAR
Even though there was little evidence of wrongdoing, as I said, Tom Brady and the Patriots got hammered. Some people are saying “too hard,” “not enough,” and many fans are thinking about boycotting the NFL. I think Commissioner Roger Goodell went way too far. The Patriots were treated as repeat offenders because of Spygate, hence the highest fine in NFL history of $1,000,000, and the aforementioned draft picks. Brady’s suspension was done because the NFL wanted to send a message that no one was above the rules. I also think that the League Office was mad that Brady would not cooperate with the witch hunt.
The fine for this kind of violation is $25,000. The San Diego Chargers were penalized the same amount in 2012. They used a sticky substance to the towels used for the game footballs, which is against NFL rules. There was no uproar by the NFL or by the public. (http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/8604254/san-diego-chargers-fined-20000-failing-comply-game-official) Both the Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers got WARNINGS for heating the game balls this past season. (http://espn.go.com/blog/minnesota-vikings/post/_/id/11218/nfl-aware-of-game-ball-incident-during-panthers-vikings ) In these cases, there were no outrage by the NFL or the public. Even when the Colts emailed the NFL about their suspicions, the NFL didn’t get the public in a fuss. Now, they start this investigation and all of a sudden, this violation has turned into the equivalent of the Titanic disaster? I’m not buying it.
Goodell wanted to make an example of Brady and the Patriots, and that’s what he did. I mean, why on earth did Spygate have to be considered into Brady’s punishment? He wasn’t part of it. That was on Belichick. The fact that the team is being punished for something they’ve been punished for already, I think is ridiculous. The fact that Brady is being treated as if he took PEDs is asinine, especially considering the usual punishment for this type of thing. Shame on Goodell for pandering to public pressure, and not according to the actual violation.
4. IMPACT ON THE NFL FIELD
How will this four games affect the NFL on the field product? As we know, Tom Brady is appealing his suspension, as expected. Trust me, this is not over by a long shot. I wouldn’t be surprised if Patriots owner Bob Kraft has a few tricks up his sleeve. I’m guessing that the next time Roger Goodell messes up, Kraft won’t be there. The team is standing by their QB as well.
5. TOM BRADY’S LEGACY INTACT
After all this moralizing and hand-wringing, and such, in this blogger’s opinion, Tom Brady’s NFL legacy is intact. He’s a First Ballot Hall of Famer. His NFL achievements are many. Do the findings in the Wells Report erase them? In the minds of the shrill few, and the haters, yes. For those who look at Brady’s career as a whole, and for those who will be voting on his candidacy five years after his retirement, I seriously doubt it.
In conclusion, I am going to wait and see what happens with Brady’s appeal. He has just hired attorney Jeffery Kessler to help with the appeal. This should be a very interesting next few months. Thanks for reading. Feedback is welcome.