Upon reflection: Assessing NFL, Tom Brady and Patriots punishments


Upon reflection: Assessing NFL, Tom Brady and Patriots punishments

Before the NFL handed down its multi-tiered punishments in the Deflategate situation, I went on record that a sanction was necessary for Tom Brady if the quarterback was indeed involved in directing the underinflating of game footballs. My thought was that the spanking should constitute two games, no more. The issue was the integrity of the game and when you compromise that, even if “integrity of the game” is an elusive phrase for the NFL, there are necessarily consequences.

With the release of the Ted Wells report and the fallout, and an overnight to consider it, the opinion stands: two games for Brady. Not the four of the initial decision, which likely gets reduced anyway.

[MORE DEFLATEGATE: Tom Brady suspended four games, Patriots lose two draft picks]

But along with that are some other impressions and thoughts. In no particular order:

* The Patriots, fined $1 million and losing two draft choices, obviously are being punished for a body of work, not just this incident. I have no problem with that; repeat offenders earn progressively harsher punishments, and should, since the “repeat” says that the first (second? Third?) message didn’t get through.

* Brady’s deflation and it is his; no equipment staffer tinkers with such things as footballs without instructions from the centerpiece of the franchise. Getting caught earns punishment from the league; doing it without Brady’s blessing earns a beheading.

* Deflating game footballs ranks with using a corked bat. When the problem was discovered, as it was, based on the report, during a game, Brady should have been ejected or the game forfeited. Conviction without due process? Yep. But there isn’t due process when an official flags holding or pass interference, and violations of rules at the NFL level should be dealt with on a zero-tolerance basis.

[FANTASY FOOTBALL: Fallout from Brady's suspension]

* The NFL’s inconsistent discipline – Brady for involvement in underinflating footballs is getting double the suspension that was initially put on Ray Rice for what ultimately qualified as criminal battery – is an entirely separate issue from Brady’s or the Patriots’ sanctions. Inconsistent punishment does not mean that there shouldn’t be any. Part of the problem here is that the NFL is dealing with a lot of first-time misdeeds, whether Spygate, Bountygate, Deflategate or whatevergate. Of course there will be inconsistencies.

And the main reflection…

My respect for former Bears quarterback Jim Miller and his agent Joe Linta, and former Northwestern and San Diego Chargers defensive tackle Luis Castillo and his agent Mike McCartney just went up another small step. Miller was suspended four games at the end of the 1999 season for a substance violation. Miller stood up and acknowledged what he’d done (using a recovery supplement with a banned ingredient) and that was the end of it.

Castillo hurt his elbow early during Northwestern’s 2004 season. He started using androstenedione as part of his rehab and recovery, and tested positive at the 2005 NFL Combine. Rather than deny-deny-deny, Castillo acknowledged the misstep. The Chargers still made him their No. 1 pick (28th overall), in part because of the honesty.

Brady had a chance to do something similar and went the other way, even when other quarterbacks acknowledged there are problems with football inflations, and even some who tinker, as Brady had.

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The greatest mistake Lance Armstrong made was less the cheating and doping that he did to become a seven-time Tour de France winner, but rather failing to do what Castillo, Miller and others have done, and get out in front of the situation the right way. How much different would Armstrong’s personal legacy have been had he stood before microphones and cameras and said, “Yes, I did it, and we ALL did it (the vast majority of top cyclists in fact did do it). We felt we had to. And it’s time to put an end to it. Starting with me.”

Forget Armstrong’s arrogance or whatever. A lot of that was part of his cover-up. The reality is that we as Americans are, first, pretty forgiving if you’re honest and say you’ll go straight. And we also have a strange, sometimes humorous soft spot for a lot of our bad boys. Jesse James? Butch Cassidy? Gaylord Perry? You get the point.

None of this absolves anyone of wrongdoing, or of lying or fact-fudging to cover something up. But Brady didn’t lie to a grand jury, and Robert Kraft didn’t undermine peace talks in the Middle East. And yes, the NFL has significant work to do on punishment guidelines, although I’m not sure what discipline committee would’ve worked out a punishment for under- or over-inflating, which Aaron Rodgers prefers. Best guess is that the league will indeed go through its rule book and assign a penalty for violating those rules, just as it does for on-field misdeeds. 

Vegas sets Mitchell Trubisky’s pass TD total at 26.5


Vegas sets Mitchell Trubisky’s pass TD total at 26.5

If Mitchell Trubisky has the kind of break out year in his second season under Matt Nagy that Bears fans are hoping for, he should have no problem cashing an OVER 26.5 passing TDs ticket for bettors who want to back him.

Per Bet Chicago, Caesars is rolling out division props and they set Trubisky’s touchdown pass total for 2019 at 26.5 and his pass yard total at 3,744.5.

While both those marks would be career highs for Trubisky, this number will surely be seen as a slight by the hometown fans and continue to add to the polarizing nature of the quarterback formerly known as the Pretty Boy Assassin.

In Chicago, and if you’re team Mitch, this number is ridiculously low and you’re probably already pounding the over.

Outside of Chicago, and with some analytical support, there’s a lot of doubt about Trubisky’s future as a viable option as an NFL starter, so I’d guess the Pro Football Focus crowd is probably gonna take the under.

We rolled out some props of our own on the Under Center podcast last week including:

Will Mitch Trubisky pass for 10 or more touchdowns than Craig Kimbrel has saves? (Including playoffs for both)

26.5 regular season passing touchdowns probably gives Kimbrel the edge, but it’s right in range. 

And that Trubisky – Kimbrel prop prompted this bold response from our own Bears insider JJ Stankevitz:

I don’t think I’m in the 40 club with my guy JJ, but the OVER certainly feels like the move here. At least it better be if the Bears are gonna make any sort of NFC North title defense. 


Former Bear Greg Olsen randomly walks into marriage proposal, catches whole thing on video


Former Bear Greg Olsen randomly walks into marriage proposal, catches whole thing on video

Scenario: you're walking down the street and randomly walk into a marriage proposal. What do you do?

For former Bear and current Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, the answer was to capture the magical moment on video. 

Olsen was in Nashville this week to give a keynote speech at a healthcare conference. While walking back to his hotel on Thursday, he randomly stumbled into a marriage proposal. His first response: hit record on his phone and capture the whole thing on video.

"Did she say yes? I got it on video, dude," Olsen said emphatically. "I'm going to send it to you!

"She said yes and I got it all on video, and you don't even know me, but I'm going to send it to you."

The couple, according to the Panthers, is Max Harvat and Brooke Hartranft. The two were visiting Nashville for the week, but Harvat didn't necessarily plan the proposal. It was as much of a sporadic moment for him as it was random for Olsen.

"Oh my god, you're my hero," Harvat said to Olsen after the proposal.

As it turns out, Harvat grew up a Panthers fan. However, he had no idea that Olsen was the person recording the proposal in the moment, only happy that someone caught it on video. When he stood up, he realized who the mystery man was.

“When I stood up, I looked over and I started having a mini heart attack," Harvat said to "I was like, ‘I’m 90 percent sure that’s Greg Olsen from the Panthers!’

“I'm a huge Carolina fan. I was like, ‘Oh my God, you're telling me that Greg Olsen just recorded the whole thing?’ I was so excited. It was amazing."

The moment wasn't just special for Havrat and Hartranft, though.

"It's the best thing I've ever witnessed," Olsen said in the video.

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