Bisciotti denies pressuring Goodell on #DeflateGate
On Friday, ESPN Sal Paolantonio supplied it. Now, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti has denied it.
Responding to Paolantonio’s claim that Bisciotti, Colts owner Jim Irsay, and other AFC owners have been lobbying Commissioner Roger Goodell to uphold the four-game suspension of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Bisciotti says he didn’t try to pressure Goodell.
“I have not and will not put any pressure on Commissioner or anyone representing NFL office to take action in . . . ‘DeflateGate,’” Bisciotti said in a statement, via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com.
“The story circulating that I’ve put pressure on Roger [Goodell] is 100 percent wrong,” Bisciotti added. “The reports are unfair to [Patriots owner] Robert Kraft, who is [an] honorable person and to his franchise.”
It’s possible that this is a matter of semantics (or maybe an intended pun), with Bisciotti not regarding any inquiries made or opinions offered as “pressure” on Goodell or the league office. Whether it was Bisciotti or other AFC owners or Giants co-owner John Mara or Cowboys owner Jerry Jones or anyone else, the string between the tin cans is tight from team headquarters to 345 Park Avenue. The #DeflateGate scandal helped make it obvious that teams complain about anything and everything; why wouldn’t owners make their views known to Goodell about one of the biggest controversies the sport has ever seen?
Unless Goodell flatly refused to speak to any owners regarding anything relating to #DeflateGate, the well potentially has been poisoned, and his independence necessarily has been undermined.
So regardless of whether Bisciotti or any other owner denies pressuring or influencing or communicating in any way with Goodell about #DeflateGate, they all need to deny it -- and to deny it strongly -- before it becomes a central issue in Brady’s looming court challenge alleging that Goodell’s lack of independence requires any suspension to be scrapped.
UPDATE 1:39 p.m. ET: PFT has received a copy of the statement from Bisciotti, in which he insists he hasn’t pressured Roger Goodell. The statement ends with Bisciotti saying, “Fans and people like me want the issue resolved now.” Which sort of seems like the exertion of pressure to get this thing wrapped up quickly.