Tom Brady, His (Foot) Balls and the NFL

Photo courtesy of josephinesfeast.com

Photo courtesy of josephinesfeast.com

The “Deflategate” story involving the New England Patriots first broke all the way back in January following the American League Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts. A little over six months later – six! – it is still dominating headlines, and unfortunately does not appear to be going away any time soon.

As everyone almost certainly knows by now, thanks in large part to ESPN and Twitter, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady lost his appeal to the National Football League of his four game suspension. The best part of this story is that the appeal was heard by the same people who handed down the punishment – the NFL.

As poor of a system as this is, Brady and his agent and attorney, Don Yee, simply cannot complain about it. This is the protocol the NFL Players Association agreed to in the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement, so everyone complaining about the system only has the players like Brady to blame.

Patriots Owner Robert Kraft made a statement Wednesday after previously accepting the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s punishment – the loss of a 2016 1st-round draft pick and a 1-million dollar fine. Kraft said today that he regrets initially accepting that punishment and he was, “wrong to put his faith in the league.”

The Head Coach of the Patriots, Bill Belichick, also took and avoided questions about the recent Deflategate developments. If you haven’t seen the Belichick press conference yet I am sure you can imagine how it went: Belichick, stone-faced, wearing a hoodie, giving reporters nothing by responding with cliche answers.

Screen grab from SI.com

Screen grab from SI.com

Exactly how you pictured it? Thought so. Isn’t it funny you don’t even need the sound and you can imagine what Belichick is about to say: “We’re going to take it day to day.” “We start training camp today. We’ll get ready for 2015 today.”

Brady posted a lengthy response on his Facebook page to his suspension being upheld by the league. Brady made many – I am sure carefully-stated and pre-read by his attorney – points in this post. I have pulled a couple of the most important quotes below, but I encourage you to read the entire thing here.

“…the Commissioner upheld my suspension based upon a standard that it was ‘probable’ that I was ‘generally aware’ of misconduct. The fact is that neither I, nor any equipment person, did anything of which we have been accused. He dismissed my hours of testimony and it is disappointing that he found it unreliable.”

Brady talking about the idea of a “smoking cellphone” that he destroyed:

“I replaced my broken Samsung phone with a new iPhone 6 AFTER my attorneys made it clear to the NFL that my actual phone device would not be subjected to investigation under ANY circumstances. As a member of a union, I was under no obligation to set a new precedent going forward, nor was I made aware at any time during Mr. Wells investigation, that failing to subject my cell phone to investigation would result in ANY discipline.”

Brady says he fully cooperated with Ted Wells, who was conducting the investigation, and says there is no “smoking gun.”

“…we turned over detailed pages of cell phone records and all of the emails that Mr. Wells requested. We even contacted the phone company to see if there was any possible way we could retrieve any/all of the actual text messages from my old phone. In short, we exhausted every possibility to give the NFL everything we could and offered to go thru the identity for every text and phone call during the relevant time.”

Deflategate: The Cell Phone and My Theory

Now that all of the most recent facts about Deflategate have been listed, let’s get into the fun stuff. First off, I think everyone is making too much of the destroying of the cell phone. Brady is not only a football player, but also a private citizen who has right to not give up his cell phone in an investigation.

Let’s not forget, as Brady said in his post, the NFL was given texts and emails that Wells requested. The following tweets, one from a CBS Sports reporter and the other from a Fox Sports reporter, might put things about the cell phone in context.

Enough about the cell phone that has become almost infamous in the past 24 hours. Let’s get into what I think actually happened, and why I think Brady will not miss any games. Take it away Skip Bayless.

I don’t always agree with Bayless, but in this Brady stuff I do. I believe Brady had a wink-wink thing going on with the ball boys, meaning Brady himself in 100 percent innocent. I think Brady and his ball boys had an understanding of how Brady likes his footballs. There is not doubt Brady like them under-inflated compared to the league average, but this does not mean he instructed people to under-inflate the footballs below what was allowed by the league.

I find it hard to believe every single players knew, prior to Deflategate, the exact PSI range that was allowed by the NFL. The ball boys might have, but I do not think the quarterbacks themselves did. This means Brady may have instructed the ball boys prepare the footballs with less air than usual, but I find it hard to believe Brady would have instructed them to purposely break the rules.

If this is what actually happened, I wish Brady just came out and said something like this on Day 1 at his press conference in between the AFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl. It would have meant Brady taking some of the blame, but this all would have gone away by now, and I do not think Brady would have gotten suspended.

What I Think Will Ultimately Happen

Without getting into too much detail about the legality of what could happen if Brady takes the NFL to court over his suspension, I think Brady will not miss any games. If this does go to court, the one thing I know for sure is that it will take a lot of time. The case will almost certainly be going on well into the upcoming NFL season and I bet Brady would be allowed to play until the case is settled.

I said from Day 1 that Brady would not miss any games, mainly because missing games would mean Brady not playing in the season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on that Thursday night in September. It’s bad enough the league’s opening night is going to be surrounded with this Deflategate story. I doubt the league wants Big Ben Roethlisberger going up against anyone other than Tom Brady on that field to kick of the season.

Many people have been saying the league does not have any real evidence against Brady if this goes to court. I’ll save that for another article in itself if we get that far. Kraft coming to Brady’s defense earlier today says a lot to me. Kraft has to know this is about to get ugly, so for him to put his reputation on the line and side with Brady says a lot.

The NFL: You Sly, Sly Dog

In an unrelated issue, I want to bring up something the NFL also did yesterday. The league tried to pull a fast one over on everyone by releasing some new information about a reduced suspension at a time when the NFL damn well knew no one was paying attention to anything other than the Brady stuff.

I’m going to leave that right there, but I just wanted to make sure everyone was aware that this happened.

I’m going to leave you with a couple Bill Simmons tweets that just sum up this entire Brady saga, as well as the NFL, too perfectly.

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One thought on “Tom Brady, His (Foot) Balls and the NFL

  1. Pingback: Brady’s (inflated) balls, and RGIII’s sticky situation | Zocco's Modern Life

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