Patriots

Silly Deflategate has taken a serious turn

goodell.jpg

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.
 
OK.
 
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.
 
OK.
 
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?
 
2020.
 
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

Chris Long doesn't put stock in Brady-Belichick drama. "It took everything to beat them."

Chris Long doesn't put stock in Brady-Belichick drama. "It took everything to beat them."

In an interview with The Big Lead, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long spoke on the drama surrounding Tom Brady and Bill Belichick

It's safe to say he doesn't put much stock into it

I just think any NFL team, any NFL locker room under a lot of stress over a year period, there are going to be storylines people can choose to kind of blow out of proportion or not pay attention to. I think everyone’s going to pay attention to sometimes really small issues. Whatever people are alluding to going on up there hasn’t affected their play, it hasn’t affected their bottom line. It hasn’t affected how they executed on Sundays. 

Long played with the Patriots during the 2016 season and won Super Bowl 51 with them before signing a two-year contract with the Eagles. The Eagles then went on to beat New England in Super Bowl 52. If anyone outside of the Patriots' locker room has an idea of the culture inside the past two years, Long has to be one of them. 

It took everything for us to beat them. It took a heroic performance by Nick Foles and we had to play our best game. So while everybody likes to always point to the Patriots as being under duress or there’s some drama in the locker room, there’s drama in every locker room that you could blow out of proportion. They’re just on top and those stories sell because they’ve been so great.

ESPN's Seth Wickersham released a story detailing some of the issues that arose in New England over the past few years in January, and with Brady missing almost all of the Patriots' voluntary workouts last month, some have started to wonder whether this is the end for one of both of Brady-Belichick. 

While their hasn't been much public acknowledgement from either side about the drama, but Long certainly doesn't see much substance to the noise. 

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Tony Romo's Super Bowl prediction draws response from Tom Brady

Tony Romo's Super Bowl prediction draws response from Tom Brady

Tony Romo's Super Bowl prediction of the Jacksonville Jaguars taking over the AFC title from the Patriots and facing the Green Bay Packers in Atlanta in SB53 drew a response from Tom Brady on Instagram.

The NFL's official Instagram account posted a photo of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Jags cornerback Jalen Ramsey with the prediction of Romo, the former Dallas Cowboys QB now the analyst on CBS' No. 1 NFL broadcast team. Here's a screenshot, complete with Brady's comment:

Appearing on the NFL Network earlier this week, Romo said rumors of a rift between Brady and coach Bill Belichick are overblown. “I think they probably squabble just like any married couple for 20 years, and then they also love each other.

“I just think when you work together for 15 to 20 years, whatever it is, I think that whenever you have the success that they have, people have to come up with stuff,” Romo said. “I also think that I’ve been upset with my coaches before, and then you come back and you’re fine. And then you get upset with them, and you come back and you’re fine. It’s a part of sports.”

Brady and the Patriots report to camp on July 26.

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