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!!

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Water Cooler Shorts – 8/24/2015

What you need to know from the weekend (and last week) in the NFL:

Injury News

The big news from this weekend is coming out of Green Bay, where the Packers lost star wide receiver Jordy Nelson. Initial reports are a torn ACL and he’s lost for the season. He’ll have an MRI today to confirm the prognosis, but it’s a tough pill to swallow. If any team is equipped to handle this kind of injury though, it’s the Packers. They seem to constantly churn out productive receivers from every draft and Davante Adams will slide right in to fill Nelson’ s role on the outside. Plus, they still have that guy named Rodgers at QB, so they’ll be okay. The other big injury happened earlier in the week when the Panthers lost their young stud receiver – Kelvin Benjamin. He went down in practice, also with a torn ACL and is officially done for the year. Any time a guy goes down without contact, you know it’s not good and in both of these situations it appears to be worst case scenarios.

One other injury nugget – not as flashy, but still worth noting, is that the Steeler’s Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey injured his ankle yesterday and was carted off. He will require surgery and the timetable for his return is still unknown at this point. Either way, it’s a big loss for a team that wants to establish the run and needs to protect Big Ben.

Jimmy G Update

For all those Pats fans who were on the ledge after week 1 of the preseason, you can step down and relax. Yes, I understand that Garoppolo was facing 2nd and 3rd stringers on the Saints. But he was also playing with 2nd and 3rd stringers on his side of the ball and did what you would expect from a capable quarterback…he led the offense on 5 scoring drives and was efficient doing so: 28/33 for 269 yards and 1 TD (also 1 INT), which I consider impressive considering his top receiving threat was undrafted rookie Chris Harper. Assuming that Brady is out for the first 4 weeks, as I said last week…I think the Pats will be just fine.

No other major news. Week 3 of the preseason will be the ‘dress rehearsal’ for most teams, so expect the starters to get lots of action in preparation for week 1. Knock on wood if you’ve already had your fantasy football draft and pray that your guys make it through in one piece.

Water Cooler Shorts – 8/14/15 Edition

First post in a new segment here, as all football season I’ll be sharing my quick-hit thoughts on the NFL. I’m calling it Water Cooler Shorts, because it’ll be dedicated to giving you all the key news you need to know to carry a conversation when you run into Bob from Accounting at the water cooler in the morning. So with the first major preseason action last night, let’s get to it.

Tell Patriots fans to CHILL OUT

Jimmy Garoppolo got extended action in last night’s preseason game (as expected) and to be fair, he looked pretty terrible. But tell Patriots fans to turn off ESPN and relax. Remember that those are the same guys that overreacted and said Tom Brady was “done” after the Chiefs game last season (how’d that turn out by the way dipshits?); so don’t fall into their trap. I know it feels like the sky is falling down…the Pats are going to be 0-4 if Brady’s suspension is upheld, AND all of our favorite comedians are going to sucked into a giant hole in the ground.

But try to keep it in perspective…Jimmy G was playing with a second-string offensive line and his best receiver option was Josh Boyce – a guy who has maybe a 2% chance of making the final roster. No Edelman, no Gronk, no LaFell, no Amendola. If, and it’s a huge IF at this point, Brady is suspended at all, Belichick will come up with a game plan to maximize the skills that Garoppolo does have and they’ll be just fine. Remember that they went 11-5 with Matt Cassell at the helm, and I firmly believe that Jimmy G has more talent.

Jets fans should be doing cartwheels

We all got a good laugh when news came out earlier this week that Geno Smith was missing 6-10 weeks with a broken jaw, courtesy of getting popped in the face by his own teammate. Only the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets. The truth is, Jets fans should be thrilled right now. Geno might have been their “starter” and maybe you can argue that he has untapped potential. But he’s not the best quarterback on their roster and definitely doesn’t give the team it’s best chance to win right now. Plus, he’s a giant tool, as evidenced by him getting popped in the face by a teammate and witnesses saying that he totally deserved it. I haven’t heard a single person defend Geno in all this…not a good sign.

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The simple fact is that Ryan Fitzpatrick has been a more than serviceable quarterback in his time with Buffalo, Tennessee and Houston, and is good enough to keep this team in games. They’ll need to rely on their defense, which should be one of the best in the NFL with the addition of Revis, Cromartie and Skrine to their secondary, but Fitzy won’t lose them games.  Which cannot be said for Geno. So don’t shed any tears Gang Green, you’ll be better off with the Harvard grad.

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Plus look at that beard…that’s instant credibility
Ameer Abdullah was impressive

Last night we saw the debut of Melvin Gordon, but it was another rookie running back that caught my attention: Ameer Abdullah was the most impressive player on the field in the Lions-Jets game. The cuts he made would make Shady McCoy proud – 7 carries for 67 yards. He’s getting rave reviews so far in camp, especially for his receiving skills. So if he can be productive in the run game too, then he could be a major weapon for the Lions to go with Golden Tate, Joique Bell and of course Megatron.

Health was the most important objective

The common theme throughout all of the preseason, but especially week 1, is just to keep your key guys healthy. That’s why you saw the Patriots resting Edelman, Gronk and Jerod Mayo. That’s why Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and Joseph Randle didn’t play at all for the Cowboys, and why Drew Brees was standing on the sideline all night for the Saints. The simple truth is that 4 preseason games are way too many – these key veterans don’t need that much time to get up to speed, especially with the reps they get in practice. So there’s nothing they can gain from 4 preseason games, but a lot they can lose. Not worth the risk, so the theme over the next few weeks will be: KEEP THE STUDS HEALTHY.

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.