Silly Deflategate has taken a serious turn


Silly Deflategate has taken a serious turn

A recent Gallup poll suggests that 85 percent of American sports fans would rather jam a football pump into their eye ball than read another column about DeflateGate. I just made that up but it could be true, and the numbers probably aren’t too far off in New England. After seven months of torture, most Pats fans are sick and angry and embarrassed over all the precious time wasted arguing over a negligible amount of ball pressure.
But here’s the truth about DeflateGate. It’s been true for some time and it’s truer now than ever: This isn’t about PSI. It’s not about footballs. It’s not about Tom Brady or Roger Goodell or Ted Wells’ mustache. At this point DeflateGate is only about Judge Richard Berman and a decision that will alter NFL history.
Just to recap: This all started with an assumption by the NFL and at least two of the Pats’ biggest rivals (First the Ravens who tipped off the Colts, and the Colts who tipped off the league).
That led to a hastily executed sting that led to a multi-million dollar “independent” investigation.
It’s long since been revealed that this investigation was actually about as independent as a 18-year-old trust fund baby. It was edited by NFL lawyers and the league cited attorney-client-privilege while withholding critical information during the appeal.
And of course that appeal was not overseen by a neutral judge but by the very person who hired the not-so-independent investigator and who handed down the initial punishment, aka Commissioner Roger Goodell, who’s not qualified to open a bag of chips never mind serve as the judge, jury and executioner for a billion dollar business.
But that’s what the NFL is arguing. That’s what the argument has become. Since this whole mess shifted into federal court the issue is not about whether Tom Brady did what the NFL says he did; it’s not about whether Ted Wells was independent or if there were major flaws and/or biases in the report that Goodell cited as gospel while laying down the hammer. Instead the NFL’s argument is that the CBA states that Roger Goodell can do whatever he wants, so Roger Goodell is legally permitted to do whatever he wants. On August 14, after the first hearing with Judge Berman, the league went as far as to file a letter claiming that Berman isn’t authorized to rule for Brady even if there were FACTUAL ERRORS in the NFL’s investigation.
In other words, the NFL told a federal judge that they don’t care if they’re right and he can’t tell them that they’re wrong.
In response to that, the NFLPA presented 19 previous cases in which federal judges DID overturn CBA-related arbitrations. They argued that it’s fully within Berman’s power to vacate Brady’s suspension and, for his part, Berman raised more than few questions as to the basic fairness and legality of the NFL’s appeal process.
Then yesterday afternoon the league filed another letter to Judge Berman. This one argued that the 19 cases presented by the NFLPA were irrelevant because they involved:
1) Cases where the arbitrator ignored an express term in the CBA, and in this case Goodell didn’t do that.
2) Cases where there were extraordinary circumstances, and in this case there are none.
3) Cases in which there was a neutral arbitrator, and in this case Roger Goodell is not a neutral arbitrator.
Please take a second and re-read that last one. I’ll even paste it below so your eyes don’t have to back track.
3) Cases in which there was a neutral arbitrator, and in this case Roger Goodell is not a neutral arbitrator.
And that brings us into today and back to the original point. DeflateGate is not about deflated footballs. It’s not about Tom Brady or the Patriots or destroying phones or the integrity of the game. As much as the rest of the country would like to just assume the Pats are guilty and move on with the season, and as much as New Englanders would like to just assume the Pats are innocent and move on with the season, and as much as ESPN would like to keep playing this fun little game where they make sweet love to the hand that feeds them while setting fire to every ounce of journalistic integrity — this silly, convoluted scandal has become an incredibly important and serious matter.
Again, the NFL has gone to federal court and argued that — thanks to the CBA — the Commissioner is allowed to quite literally do whatever he wants. He can make dangerous assumptions. He can use his unlimited financial resources to massage and manipulate evidence that supports those assumptions. He can then use that manipulated evidence to take drastic and harmful measures against teams and individual players. He can then deny said teams and players a fair appeal process. He can then go right back to federal court and claim that it doesn’t matter because in this case it won’t matter. If Judge Berman can’t find the legal precedent to overturn the NFL’s corruption then his ruling will become the precedent.
There’s honestly nothing scarier than the combination of power and stupidity and under these circumstance it will reign supreme.
At that point the only way to stop the league and Goodell will be to change the CBA — and guess when that expires?
So if you’re already sick of DeflateGate, just imagine five more years of stories just like it. And while you’re imagining, feel free to keep one eye wide open — I’ll get the football pump and do the honors.  
Follow me on Twitter: @rich_levine

QUICK SLANTS THE PODCAST: Jerod Mayo breaks down the best way for Patriots to attack Jaguars defense


QUICK SLANTS THE PODCAST: Jerod Mayo breaks down the best way for Patriots to attack Jaguars defense

Jerod Mayo talks with Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry about the Patriots AFC Championship matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

(2:00) Jerod Mayo gives his X’s and O’s breakdown of the Jaguars defensive schemes and traits.

(5:00) Jerod gives his opinion on how the Patriots offense should attack the Jaguars defense.

(8:30) Could Gronkowski be the key to the Patriots offense? What would be the best way to use him?

(15:00) Does the Jaguars defense have a weakness against vertical routes?

(17:00) Jerod Mayo explains why James White could be a key once again for the Patriots. 

(21:00) Will Jaguars change their defensive scheme after allowing 42 to the Steeler?

(23:00) Will much will the Jaguars having the ‘nothing to lose’ mindset impact the game?

Jaguars have Ramsey's back


Jaguars have Ramsey's back

Enough has been made of Jalen Ramsey’s bold proclamation that the Jaguars are going to win the Super Bowl despite the fact that they’re aren’t even on that stage yet.

I know it’s not how the Patriots do business but other teams do. Does it generally work? Well, no one can match the Pats sustainability but that doesn’t mean that style can’t be effective in shorter windows.

Look at the Seahawks or Ravens. Even the Giants could be boisterous. That leads me back to the Jags, who have Ramsey’s back.

“We’re so close that I think it’s OK to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to do this,’’’ said defensive tackle Malik Jackson.

“The man has confidence in his team,” added Abry Jones, also a defensive tackle. “What’s he going to say? He knows what we’re going up there to do. It’s not like he’s saying anything that’s not true.”

“He does things very passionately,” Calais Campbell told the Rich Eisen show. “You feed off that. When you see a guy who loves the game as much as he does, you can’t help but fall into the same mentality.”

That is what makes Ramsey different from say Mike Mitchell, the Steelers safety who ran his mouth weeks ago about beating the Patriots in the AFC title game and then stood outside the Jags locker room and yapped about what a long day the visitors were in forSunday. How’s that working out for Mitchell now? He’s at home while Ramsey is about to play in his biggest game as a pro.

“He’s going to talk, but he’s going to show up,” Yannick Ngakoue said. “I just don’t like people talking all week. You talk reckless, man, and you lose. It is what it is.”

That is not an indicator to the Jags that Ramsey is looking ahead.

“He’s just happy,” noted Ngakoue. “He understands we have a giant in front of us and he’s got to pay all of his attention to this team. We don’t even know who’s going to play in the Super Bowl…We understand we have to do what we have to do or we’ll be watching the Super Bowl at home like everybody else.”

Of course, Ngakoue, the gifted edge rusher on that fearsome front 4, had some pointed words to the Steelers after that 45-42 win Sunday saying “real people don’t say nothing. Real people are quiet but then throw the first punch…they thought they were bullies today. We were the bullies. See you next year.”

That’s not Ramsey’s modus operandi however. He got under A.J. Green’s skin so much that the normally peaceful Bengals wideout threw punches at the Jags corner during the game and reportedly wanted more after the game. Then - and now - Jacksonville seems okay with it so long as the All-Pro corner continues to deliver the goods.

“Everybody has their own persona,” said Leonard Fournette. “Whatever motivates them. We aren’t worried about two weeks ahead of us. We aren’t worried about the Super Bowl. It’s the next game. It’s Sunday in New England.”