This transcript from the Brady appeal gives us a nice, unfiltered look at how the men running a $10 billion per year business operate. And it’s a shock to me they don’t pass out crash helmets every morning at 345 Park Avenue.
Not only does the emperor have no clothes, he’s been skinned alive now that we get a load of the boobery on display during that 10-hour June appeal, the transcript of which was provided on Tuesday.
It starts early. Lorin Reisner, an attorney from the Paul Weiss firm representing the NFL during the appeal was questioning Brady. Hard.
Reisner asked Brady how he arrived at 12.5 PSI as his preferred inflation.
“We basically just picked a number at that point, I guess, historically, we had always set the pressure at — before John Jastremski took over, it had been historically set at, like, 12.7 or 12.8,” Brady said. “That’s what I learned after the fact. And I think based on the Jets game (in 2014 when the balls were measured at 16 PSI and Brady blew a gasket), I said why don’t we just set them at 12.5, bring this [copy of the rule] to the ref and I didn’t think about it after that.”
Reisner asked again.
“Ball pressure has been so inconsequential, I hadn’t even thought about that,” Brady said. “I think at the end of the day, the only time I thought about it was after the Jet game and then after this was brought up, after the [AFC] championship game. It’s never something that has been on my radar, registered. I never said ‘psi.’ I don’t think I even know what that meant until after the [AFC] championship game. It was something that never crossed my mind.”
Reisner asked again.
“We looked in the rule book,” Brady said.
Reisner asked again, even though Brady had inferred with his third answer exactly what Reisner was driving it. That 12.5 was at the lowest permissible. Why that would be damning information puzzles me, especially if the Patriots were just deflating footballs anyway as the NFL suspects and alleges.
No mind, Reisner asked again to get it to five variations of the same question. I suppose that’s what you want from your attorney if you’re the NFL. A bulldog.
But here’s where the boobery (or arrogance) of the NFL is so breathtaking. Reisner HAD to be the attorney to ask those questions?
The same Reisner who sat next to his law partner Ted Wells during a conference call Wells had to have because his independent report commissioned by the NFL was getting lit up left and right. Reisner even piped up on that conference call.
We knew before that Reisner was toggling back and forth between being independent and working for the NFL but seeing the tenor of his questions while knowing there was nobody there to slow him down – certainly not the arbitrator, Roger Goodell – is illuminating.
Which brings us to Goodell.
He asked Brady if he ever walked the stadium on a Saturday. Brady said “Yes.”
Goodell: “You did?”
Forty. Million. A. Year.
As dense as Goodell seemed there, try Ted Wells’ bluster and ego on for size.
NFLPA counsel Jeffrey Kessler said to Wells, “You rejected the testimony of Mr. Brady that he knew nothing about the ball deflation in the AFC Championship Game, right? You rejected that?”
Wells’ response (which reads best in a Foghorn Leghorn cadence).
“I did reject it based on my assessment of his credibility and his refusal or decision not to give me what I requested in terms of responsive documents. And that decision, so we can all be clear and I will say it to Mr. Brady, in my almost 40 years of practice, I think that was one of the most ill-advised decisions I have ever seen because it hurt how I viewed his credibility.”
Said Kessler, “If he had given you that, you would have accepted his statement?”
Wells: “I do not know. I can't go back in a time machine, but I will say this. It hurt my assessment of his credibility for him to begin his interview by telling me he declined to give me the documents.
And I want to say this. At that time, neither his lawyer nor Mr. Brady gave me any reason other than to say, "We respectfully..." They were respectful. They said,
"'We respectfully decline.' There wasn't anything about the Union or it wasn't anything, This was what my lawyer told me and I am going to follow my lawyer's advice. I was given no explanation other than, 'We respectfully decline.' And I did, I walked Mr. Brady through this request in front of his agents and lawyers. So I understood that he understood what I was asking for and they were declining.”
The gall to not provide some lip-service reason – which Wells would have scoffed at anyway – to not give Wells whatever he wanted. And yet, despite this being the most jaw-dropping decision by a person being investigated, Wells had seen in four decades, Wells never uttered a syllable saying Brady was screwing himself and that he’d get demerits? It just makes no sense.
Wells got the last laugh, though. Brady had to change his phone number because the Wells Report didn’t sufficiently block out his phone number and people were able to guess it after the Wells Report was released.
It’s interesting to see Wells explain how close a call it was to find “more probable than not” that the Patriots deflated footballs.
“One of the things we say in the report is that the scientific analysis does not prove with, quote, 'absolute certainty' whether there was tampering or not tampering,” Wells said. “But the data ultimately was sufficiently reliable that we felt comfortable when we looked at the evidence in its totality. And the totality of the evidence involved not just the science. It involved Jim McNally calling himself the deflator and saying he had not gone to ESPN yet. And it involved the text message where Mr. Jastremski says he talked to Mr. Brady. And there's a reference to McNally must have a lot of stress getting them done. If those text messages did not exist, and all we had was a break in protocol and he goes into the bathroom and just the science, the result might very well be totally different. But when you combine the break in protocol, going into the bathroom, the text messages and the science, we felt comfortable reaching a judgment. It was a totality of all of the evidence analysis that gave us comfort in deciding it was more probable than not. We looked at all of the evidence together. And that's what juries do all the time.”
Close call like that, you’d think the NFL’s punishment would have reflected that maybe they were wrong. Nope. Historic punishment.
And then you have the cloak-and-dagger stuff we long suspected was going on between the Colts and Ravens.
The Ravens special teams coach dropped a dime to Colts coach Chuck Pagano to bring up two issues related to football treatment in New England during the AFC Divisional Playoff game. News of this call was shared in an email from Colts equipment man Sean Sullivan sent to Colts GM Ryan Grigson.
Sullivan wrote: “Two concerns came up as of yesterday on footballs at New England. First off the special teams coordinator from the Baltimore Ravens called Coach Pagano and said that they had issues last week at the game that when they were kicking (Baltimore that is) they were given new footballs instead of the ones that were prepared correctly. As far as the gameballs are concerned it is well known around the league that after the Patriots gameballs are checked by the officials and brought out for game usage the ballboys for the Patriots will let out some air with a ball needle because their quarterback likes a smaller football so he can grip it better, it would be great if someone would be able to check the air in the game balls as the game goes on so that they don’t get an illegal advantage,” Sullivan wrote.
At the very least, the Ravens were tipping off the Colts on the kicking balls. Presumably, given that “two concerns came up as of yesterday” insinuates they were a pair of concerns packaged together, they were discussed together. Call it more probable than not.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh manned the battlestations to defend himself against any allegation that the Ravens dropped a dime to Pagano, his former defensive coordinator. That doesn’t seem to be the case now.
Fast and loose with the truth. All of them (and I would include Brady and the Patriots in that because I do not disagree with Ted Wells that those texts look bad).
But the league itself shouldn’t be rolling in the mud and making the most bold-faced attempts to mislead and obfuscate. But it does.
It should feel – to the NFL and its owners – a little embarrassing. Like having a dream you were out in public in your underwear. And realizing it’s no dream.