Let’s start with something I think we can all agree on: this isn’t about the footballs.
If it were, then there wouldn’t be twin federal lawsuits right now between a QB who is worth well north of $100M and a league that disburses over $7B to it’s member teams annually in TV rights alone – JUST BECAUSE A FEW FOOTBALLS GOT A LITTLE SOFT AND SOGGY IN THE RAIN!
Nah. This is something far bigger, more farcical, and yet far more important for the league than all of that.
This is about raw power and the need to always feed that power. As Frederick Douglass, leader of the abolitionist movement once said: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
My official “Unified Deflategate Theory” goes basically like this. It was a “Botched Rogue Sting, Turned Power Play.”
The jealousy and seething rage at the Patriots – recidivist rule breakers and boundary pushers – by a triumvirate of teams (namely the Ravens, the Colts, and as always… the Jets) had reached the boiling point this last January. It was when Brady and Belichick unleashed the exotic ineligible receiver formations with devastating effect in back to back weeks. Following the Ravens win, Brady stood on that podium and smirked when presented with the Ravens’ complaints gathered from the losing lockeroom.
“Know the rules,” he said, shit-eating grin from ear to ear.
That was it. Three words set this whole thing in motion. Know. The. Rules.
The league office on Park Avenue is populated with ex-Jets by fandom and birthright. And if you think that grown men shed those allegiances once they are in executive suite positions at league headquarters, you are kidding yourself. You want to know who “knows the rules, mother****a? We’ll SHOW you the rules!”
Mike Kencil, a 20-year Jet turned league VP of Game Ops, gleefully went all Roscoe P. Coltrane on the Patriots at halftime, according to the Patriots.
There was a reason why that lockeroom room – despite literally CRAWLING with league VP’s and back-up refs and the like – just allowed those Patriot game balls to walk out right under their noses. The seething ex-Jets in the league office knew the Patriots were doing this, and wanted to catch them Duke boys RED-HANDED (“Coo, cooo, I gotcha!”).
Of course, the one guy who had no idea this was going on? Roger Goodell.
This is what happens sometimes in big organizations. High level underlings launch pet projects behind the big boss’ back, and figure if it doesn’t work out like they thought, it’s easier to get forgiveness than it would have been to get permission in the first place.
Their assesment of ass-covering corporate culture was correct: The only guy fired from the league side in this fiasco was the low-level stooge who got caught pawning off game balls earmarked for charity.
Surely, dumb and vindictive as Roger is, he would have never signed off on a “sting” like this. After all, this has been a gigantic mess for Goodell that he clearly did not need. He’s already blown millions on Ted’s trumped up book report, blown through thousands upon thousands of billable NYC lawyer hours, and may now have one powerful owner committed to bringing him down once and for all.
But as much as Roger didn’t authorize this, or want this, he got it thrown in his lap. So he was now “pot committed” to see it through to a “league win” – come hell or federal subpoena.
Of course, when you have half-wits like Kencil cooking stuff up like this, you are bound to run into problems in the execution. Which the Wells report reveals in granular detail, providing you are intellectually curious enough to actually read it. Walt Anderson nearly fucked it all up by insisting that he used an exonerating gage before the game. The three-ring-circus at halftime of back-up refs sticking needles in football bladders, resulted in an astonishing admission of incomplete testing of every Colts football as well. The recorded data on these footballs was all over the lot!
And none of these dummies had ever heard of, or even considered, the Ideal Gas Law.
None of this says I think Brady had NO hand in McNally’s mysterious bathroom detour. I think he probably did. Either as a direct order prior to the game, or as a “standing order” after those balls in the Jets game came out feeling like “fucking watermelons” to use the colorful phrase we learned from Jastremski.
My guess is that Brady had told his boys to “do what it takes” to make those balls juuuussst the way he likes them. And that was all he needed to say. That’s why there’s no smoking gun text from Brady.
But what if the balls had been slightly deflated after Walt Anderson checked them, but they STILL registered within the expected range (as many who have read the data insist was the case). Is that a violation? Yeah, technically, I suppose. You aren’t allowed to tamper with the balls after the refs check them. But they were probably “legal” anyway.
Either way, Goodell’s got a fucking hot mess in his lap, and he has no choice but to go all-in. To do what a normal, self-confident and SANE commissioner would do was out of the question. That guy would have hit the Pats with a $100,000 team fine for “failure to maintain game-day protocol,” fired Mike Kencil and a few other stooges, and wrapped this up before the planes landed for the Super Bowl in Phoenix.
But Roger Goodell is not, that guy. You don’t need me to remind you why.
So here we are 6 plus months later, on the eve of training camp, heading to TWO different federal courts over this. I mean, for fuck’s sake you must ask: “WHY!!!??”
Because there’s too much at stake for both sides. As the most powerful sports league on the planet, the NFL knows that its power must remain absolute, feared, and constantly on the march. There is no other option.
So absent hard proof like a video of the actual deflation, or a smoking gun text from Brady that says: “Please deflate to 1 PSI under limit. Thanks. LOL. #coltssuck!” the NFL just has to go with every other tactic in the book.
Like trumping up the whole “he destroyed his cellphone” angle.
Who cares? If he still has it in a drawer, if he gave it to his niece as a hand-me-down, if he sold it on Gazelle.com or if he ran over it with his lawnmower* …. it doesn’t matter!
(*Note: Which actually happened with my ex-football-playing radio partner Chris Cooley, who ALSO goes through at least 3 phones per year through sheer neglect and forgetfulness.)
The NFL, upon hearing Brady’s appeal, did not NEED any more evidence to suspend him for four games. They had already done so! So what? You’re telling me the whole thing went down basically like this….
WELLS: “Tom, we’d like to check your phone.”
BRADY: “Never gonna happen.”
WELLS: “Ok, how about your lawyers just give us any deflatey texts?”
BRADY: “Not gonna happen either.”
WELLS: “Ohhhhhkayyyy.” /writes report
GOODELL: Uncooperative! Four games!
Then, 3 months pass, and they meet again at the appeal.
GOODELL: “Hey Tom, how’s that phone we said we didn’t actually need, and the texts you said you’d never give us?”
BRADY: “Oh, that piece of shit Samsung? Smashed it. Why?”
GOODELL: “YOU LYING CHEATING BASTARD!” /calls Stephen A. Smith to place strategic leak.
So this one’s going the distance. And I am putting very little hope in Brady prevailing. Seems like the legal hurdles for this particular type of federal appeal of an agreed upon arbitration hearing, are pretty damn high. But then again, the NFL was skittish enough to rush to file their own pre-emptive strike in a hopefully more friendly Manhattan courtroom.
Oh, it’d be sweet if Goodell got owned on this one, once again. But I’m not buying any cake and streamers just yet.
If and or when Goodell and the Shield win, I can assure you the blood in all of the penises at 345 Park Avenue will be enough to fill a swimming pool. The Golden Boy will have been slain. The Patriots season may end up sunk (especially if his four games come in December!) and Kraft will have a hard time rallying any fellow owners to move on Goodell’s head.
Then Roger and the Shield will stand there, arms folded across their chests and shout “NEXT? Who wants to try us?” God help the next poor bastard whose girlfriend calls the police after a night of drinking. The Shield will be so far up in that guy’s phone, they’ll download every text, confiscate every photo, and probably steal whatever rollover minutes are left in there.
And for some fans, this, they will applaud. The cheaters and wife-beaters will have been properly smote down by the almighty NFL. Whatever. Suit yourself people. Just don’t think this is about the footballs.