Suck it NFL, Brady is a FREE MAN!

I don’t even know where to start. Talk about an emotional rollercoaster for the last 8 months (which is absurd that it took this long), but we finally have some closure and boy is it oh so sweet justice.  Before I go any further, you should probably have this song running in the background while you read this post…

Seeing this news break through on Twitter was just amazing…

Get the duck boats ready, because everyone in Massachusetts feels like we just won the Super Bowl again.  Hell, this news probably warrants a parade with all of the drama and media coverage it has gotten.  I know it’s not officially over – the NFL has already announced they’re appealing the decision, but still…I want to climb to the top of my office building at work and scream at the top of my lungs:  “F**k you Roger Goodell!!  Tom Brady!!! WOOOO!!”

And for all those Patriot haters out there who are condemning Patriots fans right now, just suck it up and deal with it.  We took plenty of shit from fans of the other 31 teams ever since the initial report.  So if you want to cry and pout because ‘Brady and the Patriots got away with another scandal’…you can join Goodell and the NFL in their pity part.  I’ll use those tears as sustenance – I’ll eat that shit up.

Speaking of the NFL, they could not possibly look any worse right now.  They were so confident throughout this whole process that it quickly turned into obnoxious arrogance and ultimately was part of their downfall.  People keep saying that Roger Goodell has egg on his face.  That’s putting it way too nicely.  It’s more like Goodell took a dump in a brown paper bag, lit it on fire at 1 Patriots Place, and then forgot what was in the bag and put out the fire himself…and then rubbed the shit all over his face afterwards.  That seems more accurate.

Frankly, I think they felt compelled to appeal the decision but their odds at the next level of court have to be slim to none based on the way the judge tore into them in his official ruling (the entire report is 40 pages, but if you want some highlights check out this link to ESPN Boston).  So they’re just dragging this out further and wasting more money and time because it’s the only possibility (even if it’s essentially zero) to save face.  Personally, I would have just chalked it up to the colossal failure it’s been and moved on entirely – that includes from Goodell.  But that’s for another day.  For today all we care about is that the truth has set Tom free.  No more worrying about the week 1 opener…no more speculating about how this is effecting his marriage…it’s time for Brady and the Pats to defend their Super Bowl title.

Meanwhile, this just in to TOSG (through my various league sources)…Bill Belichick is taking the news as we all expected…

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But in Belichick fashion, I’ll say that on behalf of Patriots fans everywhere, we’re ready for some football.  I don’t ever want to hear the word ‘Deflategate’ again. It’s over. Tommy Boy won and…WE’RE ON TO PITTSBURGH.

Let’s raise that banner baby!!

10 Commandments for Fantasy Football

Training camps are underway and the Hall of Fame game tonight will kick-off the Preseason schedule. NFL football is finally close enough that you can taste the beer and smell those tailgates. Okay, to be fair that might just be your hangover from yesterday’s barbecue…but nonetheless it’s almost time for some football.

With that, I’ve started my divisional previews – in case you missed them I’ve gone through the NFC East and NFC West so far. Now, I want to shift gears to the topic occupying the second largest portion of every man’s daily thoughts (second to sex of course)…Fantasy Football. Right about now you’re trying to cleverly hide that ESPN Mock Draft you’re doing with an excel spreadsheet cued up on your second monitor at work. You’re checking the rankings, reading the training camp reports, doing whatever you can because…

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So I’m here to drop some knowledge bombs on you. This won’t be a post about my predictions for this upcoming season, draft strategies or tips for success. Not because I don’t have strong opinions on all of those topics, but because at this point probably half of my readership consists of people who might be in a fantasy league with me this season. So screw you guys, I’m not telling you squat! What this post will be is my 10 Commandments for fantasy football. 10 rules that every self-respecting man or woman should follow when participating in the pursuit of fantasy football glory.

1. Thou shall give thought to the actual league format:

You should take the time to think about the league and format you want to play in. Seems like a minor detail, but the format you’re playing in will make a huge difference in your draft strategy. Most people start out with the traditional “standard” scoring format, but I’d highly recommend a Points Per Reception (PPR) league once you get your feet wet. Makes the player pool a little deeper and adds a wrinkle to the draft. Unless you’re an infant, you shouldn’t be playing in a league with less than 10 teams. 10 or 12 are both legit – and once you’re feeling on top of the world…think about a Keeper league. Having that extra layer of building your team for the future in addition to that season makes it feel more important. No matter what the format is, just be sure to understand what you’re getting yourself into so you don’t look like an idiot at the draft. Which brings me to…

2. Thou shall not be a jamoke when Draft Day arrives:

Do the research and prepare for your draft. Don’t be the guy who shows up to the draft with nothing and then is asking if ‘anyone has an extra printout of the rankings’. Show up with rankings of your own and be prepared for the big day. Do your own research – know the rookies that could be late-round sleepers, know the offseason moves that impacted player values; do some mock drafts so that you’re ready for any situation that unfolds in your real draft. The point is, you do not want to be the jamoke who takes Randy Moss when he’s retired, or drafts Jhavid Best in the 4th round when he just got another concussion, or drafts a RB who just tore his ACL last week in a preseason game. Be the guy who calls him out and laughs in his face instead…it’s way more fun.

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Keep calm on draft day, even if things don’t go according to plan
3. Thou shall do the Draft the right way:

I know most people do their drafts online because it’s easy and convenient. I get it. Not saying that you’re wrong per se, but unless you’ve got a league where everyone is spread out across the country AND it’s impossible to plan a destination draft that everyone can make, well then you’re a bunch of pussies. Get together in person and make the draft what it really is…something you’ve all been waiting on for months. Get some food, some drinks, an actual draft board and have a live draft in person. If you’ve never done a live draft, I cannot begin to explain how much more enjoyable it is than sitting at your laptop making picks through ESPN or Yahoo.

Plan it for a weekend afternoon; block it off on the calendar and tell the wife way in advance. None of this garbage of drafting online on a weeknight after work. You’ve got the dog barking at you because it needs to go out and pee. Your wife is barking at you because one of the kids needs a bath. And meanwhile, you’re trying to figure out if you should wait one more round or whether you’ll miss the “run on tight-ends” as a friend of mine likes to say. That’s just not good enough; you deserve better and so does your fantasy team. So sack up, and draft in person where nobody can hide behind their laptops and ESPN rankings. Where everyone’s exposed to immediate public ridicule if they make a stupid pick (just as God intended it) and they can’t rely on autodraft to make their picks. Or as the best sports commentator once put it, “where we separate the men from the boys, and the awkwardly feminine from the possibly Canadian.”

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4. Thou shall be prepared to feel like an addict and hate thyself:

Fantasy football has an inexplicable impact on all of us. It gives us a reason to be interested in the worst games on the NFL schedule each week, because we now have a rooting interest in teams other than our own. It’ll get to the point that you’ll be watching a Jaguars – Titans game, screaming at the television as if you’ve got twenty grand riding on the outcome.   All because you need Bishop Sankey to do something, ANYTHING to get you the points you need for a win. It’s unavoidable, so frankly just accept it and learn to love it. At least you’re not an actual degenerate gambler who bet $20,000 on a Jaguars – Titans game, right? You didn’t, right?

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5. Thou shall say no to “Tinker Stinker” time:

We’ve all been burned by it before, and yet we will all inevitably do it again at some point…but try to avoid tinkering with your lineup. The longer you stare at that matchup your WR1 has vs Darrelle Revis and the Jets, the more you’re going to want to replace him with that ‘boom-or-bust’ receiver on your bench going against a friendlier defense. In the end, nothing good comes from tinkering because you will always choose wrong and kick yourself for it later. A friend of mine has this affliction, so we’ll call this the “Buddy Curse”. He could hold a filibuster recounting all the times his tinkering backfired on him. So don’t be “Buddy”. Stick with your gut and resist the temptation to grab that iPad before you go drop a deuce at 12:30pm on Sunday afternoon.

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6. Thou shall be creative with your team name:

Don’t be lame…take the opportunity and come up with a creative team name that you can be proud of and that will hopefully give your league at least a chuckle.  I’ll pick on “Buddy” again. Don’t name your team something lame like “Buddy’s All-Stars”. This isn’t middle school. You can do better than that. So take some time and put actual thought into your team name. Something that has meaning to you and your leaguemates is always good, or you can’t go wrong with a name that’s absurd and hilarious. The point is, have fun with it.  Some of my personal favorites from past seasons (and from The League):

  1.  Miley’s Side Boobs
  2.  Fear Boner
  3.  Pete Top Kevin Bottom (customized to people in your league of course)
  4.  Discount Belichick
  5.  You Sankeyed my Battleship
  6.  My Ball Zach Ertz
  7.  2 Mannings 1 Cup
7. Thou shall not be a slime ball:

We’re all in it to win it, but have some morals while you do it. Don’t get this confused with my commandment below – getting the best of someone in a trade doesn’t make you a slime ball. You know the difference. Want to add a player that you don’t really need because your opponent this week has a glaring need at that position and is just below you in waiver priority…nothing wrong with that. That’s just good strategy and I commend you for it. I’m trying to draw a clean and clear distinction between that and the classless acts that I’m referring to with this commandment.

What I’m talking about it is obvious ‘roster-churning’. Don’t add/drop every team defense on Sunday morning so that the rest of the league can’t pick any up before kick-off. If you come to a verbal trade agreement with another owner, don’t back out because you got a better offer from someone else or because the guy you’re acquiring just pulled his hammy in practice. You made a deal – be a man of your word and stick to it. You get the idea…don’t do anything that you’d be embarrassed to tell your mom about later.

8. Thou shall not veto a trade just because it makes your opponent better:

This is probably my biggest pet peeve. When your fellow owners reach a trade agreement, don’t use that little ‘Veto’ button – or ‘Vote against the trade’ – or ‘Contact the Commissioner’ just because you’re pissy that one of your competitors just acquired the missing link to their team. That’s a coward’s way out. To be fair, I hate the trade veto in almost every situation. Short of obvious and blatant collusion between two owners, a trade is a trade. Your opinion on the perceived value that each owner is getting from their end of the deal DOESN’T MATTER. IT’S NOT YOUR TEAM, IT’S THEIRS!!! Think they could get a lot more for that running back? Not your place to decide. Unless your buddy was literally trade raped because your other friend slipped him a roofie, stay out of it and worry about your own team. They’re both consenting adults and they made an agreement; they’ll have to live with the consequences – good or bad.

Which also brings me to another point…even if the trade isn’t fair and one team is obviously getting the better side, THAT’S PART OF THE GAME. Being able to wheel and deal and take advantage of other owners is part of the strategy of this glorious game. So don’t be mad that ‘Joe’ beat you to the punch and got the best of “doesn’t know any better Timmy”. Don’t hate the player, hate the game. If you can’t resist the urge to vote against those trades, then maybe you should try Fantasy Golf…I hear the etiquette may be more to your liking, you pansy.

9. Thou shall have fun, but talk lots of shit while you do it:

I get that at the end of the day this is a game and it’s meant to be fun, yadda, yadda. I understand, but respectfully think that fantasy football isn’t nearly as much fun if your league isn’t active in the trash-talking department. Listen, most fantasy football leagues are playing for money so the cash on the line is a great incentive. Even better motivation to win is laying a pounding on your co-worker so that you can show up on Tuesday morning with a huge grin like…

U mad bro

Yes it’s a game, and yes you should have fun no matter what happens. But trust me, it’s WAY more fun to win if you’ve been trading garbs with your friends all season and then that WR that he gave you shit for being a “huge reach” on draft day, goes off for 2 TDs against him. That’s just sweet poetic justice, and being able to rub it in his face will make that W so much sweeter. So have fun, but don’t be afraid to talk some smack all season. Think your buddy made a terrible trade, let him have it! Think you’re going to steam-roll your opponent this week…light up that discussion board! Always keep in mind certain untouchables (like wives and mothers) but otherwise everything is fair game. Believe me when I say that everyone in the league will enjoy it more with some healthy trash talk.

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Okay, that might be too far
10. Thou shall follow through on your commitment:

If you’ve played fantasy football for long enough, we’ve all had a season (plural for some poor souls) where everything goes wrong. Your stud RB goes down week 1…or decides to use a switch to discipline his kid…and suddenly your hopes of glory are dashed. It happens to the best of us. You’re 0-5 with no sign of hope and know that your season is lost. But here’s where my commandment comes into play. Follow through and finish what you started. Because you know what’s worse than having no chance at the playoffs, and knowing as much with several weeks left to go in your season? Being a COWARD and throwing in the towel. We’ve all been in leagues where THAT guy gives up and stops checking his team. He’s starting guys on their bye weeks, guys that are injured, and meanwhile your competition is picking up easy wins against him week after week because he didn’t have enough self-respect to man up and follow through. Don’t be THAT guy.

Personally, I just don’t get it – I’m not wired that way. Because even if I’m out of it, I have enough pride that I still want to destroy my opponent each week and play the role of spoiler as my buddies try to make the playoffs themselves. That’s why I love keeper leagues AND why I’m a huge fan of punishing the last-place finisher with some form of public humiliation. Keeper leagues give actual meaning to the phrase “there’s always next year”, because you can actually start planning for next year before your 2016 draft day. And if the owners in your league don’t have my level of personal pride, well then punishments like these for finishing in the basement should do the trick…

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Pretty ruthless, but I’d be HONKING for sure

So You’re Saying There’s a Chance…NFC West Preview

Continuing my series with my divisional previews for this upcoming season where I’ll outline why each team and fan base should be optimistic, whey they should be concerned, and ultimately what their odds are for this season.  Some dumb fans will undoubtedly take my predictions of a “one in a million” chance as well as this guy did…

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In case you missed my first preview, here’s the link to the NFC East Preview.

Next up in my divisional previews is the NFC West…thought that was fitting given how active the Seahawks have been this week, and with the Niners in the news today. So let’s get right to it.

St. Louis Rams

Why they should be optimistic: After a disappointing start to the season last year, the Rams finished pretty strongly in a very tough division and seem to be well-stocked with young talent. So there’s plenty to be excited about if you’re hanging out by the Gateway Arch. Their defense started to show signs of the promise that had Rams fans giddy before 2014 started, and going into 2015 their defensive line is absolutely stacked: Chris Long, Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers, Aaron Donald and Nick Fairley. That makes five 1st rounders in their D-line rotation, which is unheard of (especially given the actual talent level of these guys). Gregg Williams should have fun with his defensive play-calling given the pressure they should generate up front this year.

On offense, they traded for Nick Foles in the offseason so his transition to a more traditional offense (coming from Chip Kelly’s scheme) will certainly take time. But at least he has talented running backs to share the backfield with. Tre Mason showed his explosive ability in a huge performances late in 2014 (164 all-purpose yards and 3 TDs vs Oakland), and the Rams added Todd Gurley with the 10th pick in the 2015 NFL draft – a guy who’s been compared to AP. Gurley is coming off a torn ACL and will be eased back in slowly, but Rams fans have got to be salivating at the thought of a Gurley-Mason 1-2 punch.

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Just imagine how fast he’ll be when someone isn’t holding him back, literally
Why they should be concerned: Their offensive line was in shambles last year, so they invested 5 draft picks this offseason on offensive line prospects. They’re clearly committed to improving in that area, but all of the youth would certainly be a concern for me (especially considered none of those prospects were taken in round 1). Nick Foles’ entire right side of the o-line is projected to be filled by rookies…and I’d expect them to have a learning curve early on this season.

Speaking of learning curves…Nick Foles himself will have to learn a brand new offensive system and playbook. Not to mention that he wasn’t exactly lighting the world on fire before his injury in Philadelphia. So once he learns the system, he’s still got to deliver and perform up to the abilities some people see in him. Personally, I’m not a believer. I didn’t drink the Kool-Aid after his ridiculous finish to 2013…so I knew he’d come crashing back to Earth. I think the Foles we saw last year is the real Nick Foles, and that won’t be enough to carry this offense.

It’s particularly true given the lack of proven receivers on the Ram’s roster. They’ve got guys with speed and talent – see Tavon Austin, Brian Quick, and Kenny Britt. But none of them have lived up to their potential, and none can be counted on to deliver in a big game. So it’s a complete crapshoot in the passing game this season…roll the dice and hope it doesn’t come up snake eyes.

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What are their chances:  They’re in a really tough division, so it’s an uphill battle out of the basement that they’ve occupied for so long. But I think this is finally the year the Rams get back above .500 and at least sniff the playoffs. They’ve got a defense that could be top-5 in the NFL, a capable starting QB and a great RB tandem.  Ultimately, I think they come up just short as their offense lacks the firepower to pick up the slack on days when the D doesn’t show up big and force turnovers. My official prediction = 9-7 record, on the outside looking in for the playoffs but building momentum and excitement going into next offseason.

San Francisco 49ers

Why they should be optimistic: The hope should center around their offense and the guy who thinks he can be “the Man”, Colin Kaepernick. He’s shown the flashes in the past and obviously has the talent. He’s a dual-threat that has torched defenses with his legs or his arm, so there’s got to be hope of a rebound from him. Plus, the Niners did a solid job of replacing the talent they lost this offseason on the offensive side of the ball, as Carlos Hyde should step right in for Frank Gore and Torrey Smith provides a much more dynamic threat downfield than the departing Michael Crabtree. They also added Reggie Bush – a curious fit to be fair – but Kap needs all the weapons he can get.

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Keep those headphone handy bruh…you’ll be hearing more boos this season
Why they should be concerned: This doesn’t have the look of the Niners that we’ve becomes accustomed to over the past few years. It was clear last season that the players had completely tuned out Jim Harbaugh and they fell apart down the stretch. Preseason Super Bowl aspirations became an 8-8 finish, so a change was desperately needed there. But this once vaunted defense has so many question marks now that it looks like something left behind by the Riddler. Patrick Wills, Justin Smith and Chris Borland all retired this offseason. (Starting OT Anthony Davis also retired – making it 4 starters they lost to retirement…most of whom were unexpected given their age) They also lost starting corners Perrish Cox and Chris Culliver in free agency.

Plus, reports have come out today that Aldon Smith was arrested AGAIN last night on DUI, vandalism and hit and run charges. This coming after he missed 5 games in 2013 for a DUI (and he voluntarily entered rehab) and was suspended 9 games last season. The Niners were smart enough to restructure his contract so that Aldon is only paid if he’s on the field, but I have to assume they’re going to think real hard about cutting bait right now (they’ve actually already cut him since I drafted this post earlier today). The kid has boatloads of talent and can definitely rush the passer, but his decision-making ability makes Josh Gordon look responsible. At least he didn’t pull a Ricky Jarrett and punch a dude in the club right? (seriously, if you don’t get the reference…here is why you should be embarrassed and get caught up on Ballers real fast)

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I know…I can’t believe these fools aren’t watching either
The offense isn’t without questions either…they lost starting offensive lineman Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati, and watched Crabtree and Gore leave for greener pastures. Now, as I said above, I think they’ve done a good job of replacing those offensive skill players…but the o-line would be a concern. During their heyday that was a major strength of the team and it allowed them to ground and pound, letting Kap utilize his strengths to get outside the pocket and destroy defenses with play-action looks downfield. That all backfired last season when the line couldn’t block and Kap was running for his life, rather than for first downs. He took more hits, and took 13 more sacks last season than he did in 2013. Protecting their franchise QB will be a key for the Niners in 2015.

What are their chances: They’ll be competitive, but this is one of the toughest divisions in football in my opinion. I think the defense is really going to struggle and don’t think the offense has enough firepower to carry the lunch pail. So, I think this is the start of a rebuilding process in San Fran. My official prediction = 6-10 record, good for last place in the division.

Arizona Cardinals

Why they should be optimistic: The Cardinals finished 11-5 last season and made the playoffs, despite losing Carson Palmer AND then Drew Stanton – leaving them with Ryan Lindley at quarterback by season’s end. They were 9-1 before the wheels fell off the wagon, and frankly they were serious contenders to make a run at a Super Bowl before all of the injuries derailed their season.

Going into this season Carson Palmer is healthy again, and they have good weapons surrounding him in an aging Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Josh Brown and Andre Ellington. They also had one of the best defenses in the NFL last season, and return the core of their secondary with Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu.  Had a couple of losses on D (to be discussed later) but they did bring in Sean Weatherspoon and LaMarr Woodley to help solidify their pass rush.

Why they should be concerned: While the core of the defense is mostly intact, they did lose some key pieces in Darnell Dockett and Antonio Cromartie. That consistent production won’t be easy to replace, so the defense could take a slight step back. Which in this division, any step back leaves them leaps and bounds behind the Seahawks and fighting for a wildcard spot.

They’re also banking on health from two guys who couldn’t stay healthy last season…Carson Palmer and Andre Ellington. People assume that Ellington is young because he’s only spent 2 years in the NFL, but the dude is already 26 years old. Not saying that’s old…because conveniently enough that’s also the age of The Office Sports Guy…but he’s got less tread left on the tires than most people assume. And Carson Palmer has had issues staying healthy dating back to his days in Cincinnati. Not saying it’s impossible for him to make it through 16 games, but pardon my French when I say this…if he goes down, they’re royally fucked.

What are their chances:  I love Bruce Arians as a coach, and think he’s done an amazing job with this franchise just as he did when he stepped in for Chuck Pagano back in Indy. Even with the injuries they went through last season he guided them to double-figure wins and I think this season will be the same. Everyone talks about the home field advantage Seattle has at the Link, but the Cardinals have a great run going at home too. My official prediction = 10-6 finish and they make the playoffs as a wildcard, but lose in the 1st round on the road. Come up just a little short on the defensive side of the ball.

I wouldn't take fashion tips from Bruce Arians, but I'd trust him with my football team
I wouldn’t take fashion tips from Bruce Arians, but I’d trust him with my football team

Seattle Seahawks

Why they should be optimistic: Well, they’ve been to back-to-back Super Bowls…so there’s plenty to be optimistic about if you’re a Seahawks fan. You just locked up Russell Wilson long-term, and one of your only weakness last season was a lack of offensive weapons around him (outside of Marshawn)…well here comes Jimmy Graham to fix that. So now you’ve got the best dual threat quarterback in the league, a ferocious running back that has deservingly coined the nickname Beast Mode, coming off another 1,000+ yard season, AND the second best tight-end in the entire league (sorry gotta give the edge to my boy Gronk on that one). Almost seems unfair.

Plus, you’ve still got the core of what has been one of the best defenses in the NFL the last 2 years. Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor form the Legion of Boom – doesn’t matter who that other corner is because their job is cake with the other three guys around. Michael Bennett and Bruce Irvin are creating havoc up front, and Bobby Wagner is running the show at middle linebacker. Enjoy this run while it lasts Seahawks fans, because the core you’ve got in place right now is special…and it doesn’t last forever (speaking as a truly spoiled Patriots fan who just assumes this based on what I hear from fans of other franchises).

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Why they should be concerned:  Well, if I’m a Seahawks fan…I’m pretty sure the first time the Seahawks have the ball on the 1-yard line, 2nd down and goal to go, I would have a serious case of PTSD and lose my shit. “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, RUN THE BALL!!!!” is what the entire 12th Man will be shouting at their TVs across the pacific northwest. So I guess their biggest concern is Pete Carroll continuing to be an utter moron and make decisions like throwing a slant from the 1-yard line in the waning seconds of the Super Bowl. Sorry, I just couldn’t resist taking one last shot at that…by the way, I don’t think I’ve thanked Pete Carroll enough for that decision…I love you bro. You keep doin’ you Pete. 

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Okay, one more and I’m done…

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I lied, but this is the last one, I swear…

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What are their chances:  Short answer is…pretty damn good. There’s a reason why they’ve been to back-to-back Super Bowls. BREAKING NEWS: they’re one of the best teams in the NFL. That won’t change this year. They’re almost impossible to beat at the Link and even if they go .500 on the road (which won’t happen), that’s a 12-4 record which would be enough to win their division. My official prediction = 13-3, will win the division and have the best record in the NFC meaning the road to the Super Bowl will go through Seattle and that means a 3rd straight trip for Russell Wilson and the gang. Book your tickets now.

It's cute that you really thought I was done before
It’s cute that you really thought I was done before

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She looks pissed, I’d listen to her Pete

The Brady Saga Continues

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.

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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?

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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).

What now?

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.

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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.

Don't think we'll see anymore exchanges like this between these two
Don’t think we’ll see anymore exchanges like this between these two

The 5 Stages of Grief: Deflategate Style

With the release of the Wells report by the NFL today, my otherwise normal afternoon has now become one of ridicule and harassment from my friends (non Patriots fans that is).  So with that in mind, it’s time for some reflection on this matter.  No comedy this time…just the 5 stages of grief:

(1) Denial   (2) Anger   (3) Bargaining   (4) Depression and   (5) Acceptance (honestly not promising that there will be a step #5 at any point in my life, let alone this blog post).  Let’s get to it…

(1) Denial

This can’t be happening.  The NFL doesn’t have any concrete evidence to go off and that’s why all they can say is that the Patriots “probably” tampered with the footballs after they were inspected by the referees.   After all these months that’s all you can come up with?  What’s the burden of proof here? I know this isn’t a criminal proceeding, but you are talking about the result of this report causing public humiliation, potential fines and/or suspensions and irreparably tarnishing legacies.  To me, that should then require the highest burden of proof:  ’beyond a reasonable doubt’.  The NFL clearly doesn’t have any evidence to reach that type of decision.  If they did, they wouldn’t have released a report with a finding that is so wishy-washy it makes the handling of the Adrian Peterson situation look decisive.  Just ridiculous.

More importantly…Tom Brady would never, NEVER, do something like this.  C’mon…have you seen those baby blues?  He’s not capable of breaking our hearts like this.  It can’t be true; he had nothing to do with anything shady that went on with those footballs.  All Tommy boy does is throw missiles to Gronk with that golden arm of his and then go home to make sweet love to that gorgeous supermodel wife.  Plus, I’m pretty sure if he was involved in the Pats cheating and G found out, she would kick his ass.  Let’s be serious, she obviously runs shit in that house and there’s no way he’d risk getting on her bad side (just image how much being blue-balled by her would suck).  No way he’s risking that. Say what you want about that sketchy locker room attendant…throw him and the equipment manager under the bus.  But Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr. (never knew his full name before) aka Tom Terrific, is INNOCENT!

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Look at those eyes…he can’t let us down like that
(2) Anger

This is bullshit!!!  My anger here is split in two directions:  1) at the NFL; 2) at the Patriots (if this is all true – my first instance of even considering that they could be culprits here).

The NFLWHAT THE FUCK?!? Without hard evidence you’re going to drag down arguably the greatest quarterback of all-time? I cannot fathom how that is good for the sport. Tom Brady will be enshrined in Canton someday and belongs on the Mt. Rushmore of greatest NFL quarterbacks, yet you’re ready to drag his reputation through the mud without any proof that he altered those footballs or specifically instructed the attendants to do so. There are major holes in that report, including a lack of any testimony from Brady himself.  Seems like the NFL knew what they wanted the findings to be and conveniently left out anything that didn’t help their agenda.

The Patriots – this can be sub-divided as well but almost all of my anger is directly at Belichick. If, and I say IF, the Patriots intentionally deflated those footballs, there is NO WAY that Belichick didn’t know about it. You’re telling me that the same coach who one week prior had utilized a major loophole in the NFL rulebook to trick the Ravens defense with a 4-man offensive line and barely legal formations, had NO IDEA what the rules or procedures were for the footballs? Nice try…not buying it. He might not have been standing over their shoulders while they deflated those bad boys, but you bet your ass he knew what was going on IF this was does intentionally. The other frustrating part of this is how Belichick through Brady under the bus here. It’s as if he said “You know what Tom, I took the hit for SpyGate and now it’s your turn. Good luck”. How do you leave him out to dry like that? And IF this is all true, then WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?? You don’t need deflated footballs to beat the Colts. You had more talent, a better defense and a better quarterback. You beat the Seahawks in the Super Bowl with footballs that were obviously within the NFL guidelines.  So you embarrassed yourselves, the franchise and your entire fan base. Left a giant stain on your legacy and asterisk by your Super Bowl Title.  Why? So you could prove that you’re smarter than everyone else? Because you thought you would get away with it? WOW, maybe that’s why the Pats loved Aaron Hernandez so much…in the end they might have had the same moral compass.

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(3) Bargaining

Simply put, I would do just about anything to make this story go away.   You know that Family Guy episode where Peter buys the footy pajamas and hands the guy a blank check?

That’s where I’m at right now.  If I could hand Roger Goodell or Ted Wells a blank check, I would.  I think a blank check from Robert Kraft would ultimately be more effective…but I’d be more than willing to empty my savings account to make this all go away.  Name your price.  Want the naming rights to my first born child?  No problem – we all saw how that turned out in ‘The League’ and Chalupa Batman is an AWESOME name.  Seriously Roger, Ted, let’s talk.  We’re all somewhat reasonable men here, we can find an arrangement that works for everyone.

This also got me thinking…the only reason the Colts were able to make the accusation about the footballs is because they got their hands on one of them when D’Qwell Jackson intercepted Brady.  So maybe this IS all Brady’s fault.  DAMN IT!  If you hadn’t thrown that stupid INT none of this would have happened!  We would have gotten away with it!

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Damn you D’Qwell Jackson…you started all this
(4) Depression

This is the most accurate portrayal of my current emotional state.  I should be riding high.  I was counting on that Super Bowl victory carrying me through the summer.  Who cares if the Red Sox pitching is terrible?  Not this guy.  The Patriots are reigning Super Bowl champions and all is good in the world.  That’s how it SHOULD be.  I should be able to wear my Patriots jersey with pride and flaunt it in everyone’s face.

Hell, I sent two of my friends (a Giants and Cowboys fan respectively) pictures of the Malcolm Butler interception when I paid them their winnings for our NFL Pick’em pool.  Couldn’t pass up an opportunity to throw it in their faces.  And that was supposed to only be the beginning.  I was going to enjoy every minute of this offseason knowing full well that when I saw all my buddies for our fantasy football draft in late August, that I could stroll in with my Brady jersey and talk all I wanted.  I mean what’s the point of winning if you can’t gloat about it, right?

Well that’s all for naught now.  Instead I’m considering changing my cell phone number so I can avoid the constant text message barrage from that same group of guys.  I’m already tired of the “Deflatriot” jokes and jabs at another tainted title.  My summer of reveling in victory has instantaneously transformed into embarrassment.  I’m depressed to once again have to defend my team…after they just won a championship no less.  They achieved greatness, in what was one of the best Super Bowl games, and I can’t even enjoy it.  Don’t be surprised if you find me curled up in the fetal position crying myself to sleep.

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Possibly the biggest play in Super Bowl history and I can’t even brag about it now
(5) Acceptance

I warned you that this wasn’t likely to happen before I finished this post, and I wasn’t lying.  I’m still leaving the window slightly open for the remote possibility that this is premature and the Patriots will be exonerated.  Or the possibility that in the end they’ll at least say that Brady wasn’t involved, it was just the two equipment guys and they’re both canned and never working in the NFL again.

But in all likelihood the report is true and the Patriots did in fact alter those footballs to gain a competitive advantage.  In which case, I’m utterly embarrassed as a Patriots fan that this is what the organization is known for.  For being those sneaky bastards who always bend the rules and have to cheat to win a championship.  More than anything I hate that people have every right to say it because for most of my lifetime I’ve been blessed to watch arguably the best quarterback of all-time and arguably the best coach of all-time lead my favorite team.  It’s been an honor and a privilege to watch them on the field for the last 15 years, and in turn I should feel lucky to call myself a Patriots fan.  Instead, I feel ashamed.  I defended the Patriots with every ounce of energy ever since the SpyGate allegations came out.  The irrational fan in me will still defend them now.  But honestly, it’ll be less adamant, less steadfast.  I feel betrayed.  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice and well…I feel like a dumb jackass.  I want an apology from the Patriots…one I’m sure the fan base will never genuinely get.  I just feel like Patriots nation deserved better, which if you had asked me this morning I would have said was impossible.