This article will be a cathartic release. My frustration was only intensified by spending over 6 hours in a car driving back to Boston from Maryland when the Brady news was released. I had to pull over in Connecticut and have my wife drive the rest of the way just so I could start writing this and get it out of my system. I apologize in advance if my passion for this subject raises concerns that I’m developing Tourette’s syndrome (I’ll try to avoid the spontaneous F-bomb if possible).
What does this decision say about the NFL?
It again demonstrates that they’re flying by the seat of their pants. They have absolutely no idea what they’re doing. Every ruling is made with total disregard for any past precedent because they’re making up the rules as they go along. There’s no consistency across the proceedings, or handling of appeals, and they only care about making money…not the players or the reputation of the league.
Let’s consider that in the weeks leading up to this decision on Brady, the NFL announced that they reduced Greg Hardy’s suspension for domestic violence from 10 games to 4 games. Yes, that’s right – to the same number of games as Brady. So beating your wife is equal to being “generally aware” of a team official breaking rules that weren’t properly documented or enforced in the first place AND for not cooperating with a third-party investigator who was basically out on a witch hunt. Makes sense.
Brady tried to reach a settlement, but was met with “silence”. But simultaneously reports were surfacing that the NFL was close to settling with Le’Veon Bell to reduce his 3 game suspension for marijuana possession and DUI to 2 games. The only offer from the NFL was apparently to cut Brady’s suspension to 2 games as well, but IF and ONLY IF he admitted to his guilt and involvement directly with the deflation of footballs. To which Brady obviously told Goodell and the NFL to F**K OFF.
Well, why did Brady destroy his phone?
I’ll be the first to admit, that definitely isn’t a good look for Tommy boy. Certainly makes it look like he was hiding something. Maybe he had some tasty pics of Giselle on there that he didn’t want Ted Wells’ perverted eyes to see. Maybe he was just being a normal human being and didn’t want to hand over his personal property to a complete stranger. Either way, I get that the headline creates a large shadow of doubt over his self-proclaimed innocence on this matter. But, with that said, it’s a headline that Brady and the Patriots (along with his attorney) have claimed is just another attempt by the NFL to divert attention from the facts of the situation. Brady’s attorney stated that Tom turned over all information to the commissioner during the appeal process to identify any text messages to the parties involved. So it seems like one of the two sides is full of crap on this topic. I’d assume the truth will come to light in the coming months.
Even if he did physically destroy his phone, that doesn’t mean he’s guilty of anything other than what the NFL has claimed all along…of not cooperating fully with the Wells investigation. The unfortunate part for the NFL though, is that the Wells report actually made no reference whatsoever to any lack of cooperation from Brady. It’s yet another inconsistency and contradiction from an organization that is penalizing Brady for not being transparent, when they’ve been anything but throughout this entire process. Plus any prior cases of a player “failing to cooperate” has resulted in a fine. So how does this failure now translate to a 4-game suspension for Brady?
What is Roger Goodell thinking?
That’s an impossible question to answer, to be fair, because you’ll never get a straight answer from that guy. All Patriots fans are wondering how he could possibly keep the suspension at 4 games after dragging out this process for so long. Simply put, I think Goodell and the rest of the league’s front office decided that there was no turning back. They’ve looked like complete idiots for the better part of the last year as they botched one sensitive situation after another: Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, Greg Hardy. They just reached a point at which they refused to admit that in this case they handled anything incorrectly, so they dug in their heels.
Plus, once the NFLPA announced that Brady would be taking the case to court if he was suspended for even a single game, what incentive did Goodell have to reduce the suspension at all? If they’re going to court either way, then he might as well stick to his guns. That way if the ruling is going to be overturned, it’ll have to come from a Federal Court and then he can point the finger at the court system when the other 31 owners complain about Brady and the Patriots “getting away” with another scandal. He can say, “Hey, I did everything I could. I gave them the harshest penalty in the history of the league and upheld Brady’s suspension. The court overturned me, nothing I can do about it.”
In some ways, Brady has the NFLPA to blame for how things have transpired. The PA jumped the gun and even released their complete defense strategy against the NFL. It gave Goodell’s office plenty of time to sit on this announcement and come up with a strategy that benefited them. Plus, in holding onto this announcement as long as possible it makes it that much more difficult for Brady to get an injunction processed in time for the regular season. In doing so, the NFL was also able to beat Brady to the punch and preemptively filed the lawsuit in the state of New York. A court system that provides no benefit to Brady or the NFLPA, contrary to Minnesota (where the Adrian Peterson appeal was heard) and Massachusetts – both of which would have been at least a slight advantage to Brady.
At the end of the day, Goodell is more two-faced than the Batman character. He doesn’t have the best interest of the “shield” at heart. All he cares about is maintaining his cushy position as commissioner so he can continue to cash an absolutely absurd paycheck (he made over $44M in 2012 and it’s only increased since). To do that, he’s got to play the politics of it and appease the other owners. That’s what he’s doing here more than anything else…protecting himself. (By the way, Fun Fact: Goodell’s house is currently under constant police surveillance because he’s been receiving threats since he made the announcement to uphold Brady’s suspension. I SWEAR I HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH ANY OF THOSE THREATS. I was with you from 5-9pm last night…tell’em).
Well, within hours it was announced that Brady has authorized the NFL Players Association to file an appeal on his behalf in Federal Court. That was the logical next step that everyone saw coming. Basically, Brady and his attorney will try to get an injunction to have him immediately reinstated while the case works its way through the court process. Essentially, they’re going to try to defer his suspension so that he’s eligible to play this upcoming season and it ultimately gets resolved in the offseason. If the end result is the upholding of his 4-game suspension, then he’d serve it next season. Best case scenario, the suspension gets overturned and Brady never has to miss any regular season game action.
The hope is that they’ll know soon enough, so the team can plan accordingly during training camp and preseason. Either way, you can expect to see a lot of Jimmy Garoppolo this preseason as the team looks to prepare him for the first 4 weeks (in the event that Brady cannot suit up).
Legal analysts on ESPN have said that Brady doesn’t stand a chance in court. I find it extremely hard to believe that Brady would go down this road and continue to drag this process on, if he didn’t have a good case.
What I wish would happen
I’m honestly torn at the moment. A huge part of me is just sick and tired of hearing about this story. I can’t stand watching baseball right now, so I’ve been dying for training camp to start so I could focus entirely on football. But with every day that this whole debacle drags on, it takes the attention away from what matters…the Patriots defense of their Super Bowl title. That’s frustrating as a fan, so I can only imagine how the players feel.
The other side of the coin though is filled with deep-seeded rage because I want Brady to be fully exonerated. I want his reputation to be salvaged and for Roger Goodell and Ted Wells to be forced into an awkward and painful press conference where they have to admit they botched this whole situation and were dead wrong. I want to hear them apologize to Brady and Patriots nation for dragging them through the mud and trying to taint their 4th Super Bowl victory.
The reality is, that I’d give that pretty slim odds…but I can dream right? I never thought Robert Kraft was going to pull a 180 and attack the league after he took Goodell’s obscene penalty lying down. But he left me pleasantly surprised this afternoon when he FINALLY came to Brady’s defense and ripped the NFL a new asshole. About damn time Robert! It’s not enough to completely redeem yourself to Pats fans…but at least it’s a start. I wish he had shown some cojones when Goodell bitch-slapped him with a $1M penalty and took away a 1st and 4th round draft pick…but I believe Kraft when he says he regrets that decision now. Understatement of the century Robert.
So now it’s time for the real battle. Brady v. Goodell in court; Kraft v. the NFL in the court of public opinion. Pardon my French, but I hope that Brady and Kraft fuck Goodell sideways.