They called it Deflategate. Apparently because every scandal since Tricky Dick at the Watergate Hotel needs to end with the phrase “gate.” Now I’ll begin this article by admitting that I, the Commish, haven’t liked the way the New England Patriots have done business for years. I don’t like their smug, elitist attitude. I don’t like there bandwagon fans that didn’t start supporting the team until they were pretty good in the 1990’s. I don’t like their processed cheese producing owner that always beams about the “Patriot Way” of doing things. Does the “Patriot Way” include Aaron Hernandez’s way of doing things, Mr. Kraft? Hell, I don’t even like head coach Bill Belichick’s wardrobe choices. What kind of 50-something year old man wears a 1980’s Pat Benatar headband and cuts the sleeves off all of his hoodies? The only redeeming quality of the New England Patriots is their mascot Patriot Pat who (I think) was the first openly gay mascot in the NFL.
But most of all, I don’t like the New England Patriots because they’re cheaters. They win, but they don’t win the right way. Personally, I think the Spygate crimes before Super Bowl XXXVI between the Patriots and the Rams were absolutely despicable. Secretly videotaping your opponent’s practices before the biggest game of the season is a 1980’s sports movie villain type of thing to do. And I think that illegal act was certainly worthy of a harsher penalty than what the NFL sentenced the Patriots to. And lets be honest. For years Bill Belichick hasn’t played by the same rules as the rest of the NFL coaches: be it shady injury reports, video taping opponent’s practices, digging through the away team’s garbage cans to try to find play sheets, or in this case deflated footballs. The “Patriot Way” is detested by most people including legendary coach Don Shula who openly refers to their coach as “Beli-cheat.”
Now that I’ve got that off my chest, lets proceed. For as much as I hate the New England Patriots, in this particular case, I actually side with them on this whole Deflategate debacle. Now it’s clear that Tom Shady and Beli-cheat were up to their standard “Patriot Way” shenanigans. It’s clear that they intentionally violated the rules. It’s also clear that they did the classic cover up after the fact. This was all clear at the time of the incident after their AFC Championship game against the Colts. The always mum Belichick all of a sudden was a real chatty Kathy. He held two press conferences in less than a week. One in which he was debunked by Bill Nye “The Science Guy” on his physics of the football in a cold weather climate. Then another press conference when he stated that he never even thought of the footballs before this (even though his own son is on the football handling crew for the team).
The NFL nearly caught the Patriots with their pants down, but the fact remains that Roger Goodell and his NFL brass dropped the ball. The NFL had every opportunity to seize the day and catch the Patriots with the smoking gun in their hand (maybe not the best metaphor for the Patriots right now), but they blew it.
Lets quickly review the undisputed facts…..
1) During the 2014 season, The Colts and perhaps one or two other teams complained to the NFL that the Patriots are using illegal, deflated footballs during their games. The NFL is clearly tipped off to this prior to the AFC Championship game.
2) Despite being tipped off to this allegation, the NFL fails to take any proactive measure before the AFC title game including properly weighing any of the footballs prior to kickoff.
3) The Patriots clearly were up to some shady stuff before kickoff of the game as several of the balls were deflated. After an interception in the game by a Colts player, the whole issue comes up again of the Patriots deflating balls. The NFL now is being addressed again about this.
4) After the game, there are dozens of questionable reports by media members that allegedly are citing the NFL as its source. Many of these reports are later determined to be fabricated or false. However, since these reports are made public and cite the NFL as the main source they are believed to be credible at the time they are released.
5) During the NFL’s investigation, aka the Ted Wells report, the NFL determines through text messages that Tom Brady was aware of the deflated balls and was in contact with the guys that were doing it. It’s also clear that these guys were deflating balls often for Mr. Brady. These guys have been suspended by the league and terminated by the Patriots.
6) The NFL decided that Tom Brady is suspended for four games.
7) After challenging the ruling, the suspension is upheld. The NFL states that it was Tom Brady’s destruction of his cell phone that was the reason why his suspension was upheld for withholding evidence. It’s later reported that Brady also had deleted some text messages to the deflated football guys and was clearly withholding evidence from the NFL’s investigation.
So let me get this straight….
Prior to the AFC Championship game, the NFL was fully aware of the allegations of deflating footballs yet they did nothing to try and resolve this rumor by weighing footballs and obtaining the “smoking gun”. After the game was over, several reporters leaked either completed fabricated information or at least embellished information from the NFL stating that the Patriots had let the air out of 11 out of 12 footballs when this was actually never proven to be true (and actually is now pretty much refuted). Clearly, these reports skewered the Patriots in the public eye’s perception of what had transpired (despite the fact everyone knows they’re cheaters). Then the league suspended Tom Brady for his alleged indirect involvement in the incident which was never actually substantiated beyond the fact that he was texting these guys to ask them if they were okay. Then his suspension was upheld because of a completely different issue being his unwillingness to hand over his personal cell phone which the NFL had no legal right to apprehend in the first place?
Makes perfect sense to me…..
Lets face it. Roger Goodell has been known to bend (or even break) the rules when it’s convenient. The Ray Rice tape is a classic example of Goodell ruling on an issue then dramatically changing his ruling once the public perception is known. Clearly, he and his NFL front office saw that tape and hoped we would never see it. After we saw it, he then pretended like he and the NFL had never seen the video despite the Atlantic City Police Department confirming that they had mailed the NFL office the tape and the NFL office confirmed that they had viewed it “and it was terrible”. Similarly, the same could be said about the way Goodell handled Bounty Gate, the defenseless receiver mid-season fines, and several other serious issues.
The truth is that Roger Goodell isn’t trustworthy. He’s blown several investigations and rulings in the past. Tom Brady had no legal reason to hand over his personal cell phone. The NFL never linked Brady to the deflated balls (other then a few text messages asking the deflators how they were doing) and thus, Brady should not have been suspended in the first place.
The resolution to this case is simple. Brady is rightfully not suspended and Goodell looks like an idiot. Perfect. Now lets see Roger’s cell phone.
You be the Judge.
I’ll just be the Commish.
But I won’t ever look as sweet as Chiklis did.