Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti and Colts owner Jim Irsay are the two most vocal owners arguing against the NFL reducing Tom Brady’s four-game suspension, according to ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio.
Speaking on San Diego’s “Mighty 1090” radio Friday, Paolantonio said that one of the sticking points for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in contemplating a reduction to Brady’s penalty that will keep the league out of court are those two men whose teams were beaten by the Patriots in the playoffs.
“[By reducing the suspension] you’re angering some of the hard-core owners out there,” said Paolantonio. “I know who they are and I’m gonna name ‘em right now: Jim Irsay of the Colts. Steve Bisciotti of the Ravens and others in the AFC who believe the Patriots have gotten away with murder for years and have not been publicly punished properly.”
It’s not stunning that Irsay and Bisciotti are the ones holding the torches and pitchforks. On January 23, we showed the motivation and machinations the two teams had for sowing suspicion of a nefarious operation by the Patriots.
In the Divisional Playoffs, the Patriots beat the Ravens, embarrassing them (and former Patriots defensive coordinator Dean Pees, now in the same role with the Ravens) with a gadget formation that led to a momentum-changing touchdown. Ravens coach John Harbaugh accused the Patriots of duping the officials. Brady uncharacteristically fired back, saying the Ravens should study the rules and figure it out. The Ravens-Colts ties are strong with former Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano being the Colts head coach. The following week, former Ravens front-office man and current Colts GM Ryan Grigson forwarded a letter from his equipment man to the NFL offices. The letter accused the Patriots of deflating footballs. The NFL’s game operations people tried to put the AFC Championship Game officials on alert, but the officials were less than diligent. You know the rest. Except for, perhaps, the fact that Pees was interviewed by Ted Wells during his lengthy investigation. Nothing from Pees was shared in the Wells Report but it shows another Ravens tie to the proceedings.
Obviously, the Ravens and Colts would stand to benefit greatly on the field if Brady were suspended for a quarter of the season. They are among the AFC’s more competitive teams. And the Patriots are an impediment to their success.
Which all leads back to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Certainly, he has been hired by the owners to oversee and operate the league, but the onus is on him to be a statesman and govern. Goodell hides behind words like “integrity” and says his main interest is “doing what’s best for the league.”
If he lived those words as often as he says them, he wouldn’t have let the Ravens’ punctured ego and the accusation (and in-game football testing) of a Colts equipment man ignite the most absurd “scandal” in NFL history. And he wouldn’t let the two men whose teams started the hysteria and stand to benefit greatly from the fallout have any say in whether the punishment sticks.
But here we are.