Well, the fourth game is usually for the guys fighting for jobs and the starters don't even dress, and that held true at Gillette Stadium on Thursday night. The biggest deal was the celebration of Tom Brady's vindication by Judge Berman. Finally someone was willing to say that Emperor Goodell had no clothes on!
I decided to write about the case (or lack thereof) against Tom Brady last week. I'm posting this now after the verdict. Sure, I’m biased, as I’m a fan, but the facts do speak for themselves. If Tom was guilty, I’d be disappointed, but not surprised. People do lie all the time, but I have to take him at his word, because there isn’t a shred of evidence linking him to this ‘crime’. He’s had no past record of off-field misbehavior.
Can you imagine NBA Commissioner Adam Silver going after the face of their league, LeBron James, accusing him of cheating when they have no solid evidence? That he would suspend James for a quarter of the season because it was ‘more probable than not’ than he may have known something, but they really don’t know for sure?
The day after the AFC Championship Game, Bob Kravitz (formerly of The Indianapolis Star) had tweeted that there was an investigation going on by the NFL about deflated footballs. Hours later, Chris Mortensen tweeted that 11 of the 12 Patriot footballs were deflated by 2 pounds PSI! The Patriots thought those were the true numbers, just like everyone else, and Tom’s shaky press conference that week reflected his uncertainty. He maintained his innocence, but had someone else done something to the footballs?
Turns out that the numbers were completely false and fed to Mortensen by Mike Kensil (as reported by John Dennis of Boston’s WEEI) in the front office. Kensil had been the official present at the AFC Championship Game and had run to the Patriots’ equipment manager at halftime, saying in his neutral front office voice: “You are f** *kin’ screwed!”
Who is Mike Kensil? He is a former New York Jets executive who was with the team the day Bill Belichick resigned as HC of the NYJ. His hatred of Belichick is no secret.
Mortensen left the false tweet up for seven months, finally called out on it by Boston media. He gave the excuse that he didn’t know how to delete it (I guess no one at ESPN knows how to do that and could help him out), and is still defending his tweet, refusing to admit that he was lied to by a source. Hey, Mort, it happens! That tweet set the wheels in motion of the witchhunt that followed.
Recently released e-mails showed the Patriots practically begging the front office to give them the real numbers. They were blown off.
The Wells Report, an ‘independent’ investigation by lawyer Ted Wells (the NFL paid his 3-milliion fee, and NFL counsel Jeffrey Pash edited the report before publication), concluded that Brady it was ‘more probable than not’ that Brady knew something, but no evidence was given, and Belichick and owner Robert Kraft were exonerated of any wrongdoing. However, they were still docked a first-round draft pick (which is gold in the NFL, because it could be a 7-or-8-year player of Pro Bowl quality), a fourth-rounder, and a million dollars…FOR AN EQUIPMENT VIOLATION!!! That is usually a fine of $25,000.
When the Minnesota Vikings were monkeying around with footballs on the sideline during this past season during a game, they were told to stop that and fined $25,000. Same for the San Diego Chargers who had a foreign substance on their towels and were rubbing down the footballs during a game. But the Patriots? First-rounder, fourth-rounder, a million bucks.
The NFL says it’s because of past transgressions (Spygate). Okay, but the team lost a first-rounder then and $500,000 and admitted ignoring the memo that said do not film from the sidelines (you can film from the coach’s box, the stands, but not the sidelines). So something they paid for eight years ago must be paid again? Let’s hope that the Denver Broncos face the same stiff penalty because of their past violations of circumventing the salary cap in the ‘90s, helping them win two Super Bowls. And the Falcons, guilty of pumping in fake crowd noise to make it more difficult for the visitors’ offense for the past three years, or the Browns’ GM texting down to the coaches during a game (prohibited). And the Saints! If they step a toe over the line, are they banned from the league after their stiff punishment for Bountygate? Because the league has set precedence now for punishing for past sins.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is a lying weasel. He gave Ray Rice, who knocked his then-fiancee cold in an elevator, two games’ suspension, and claimed he never saw the video sent to the NFL by the cops. A woman employee called the cops to acknowledge having received the video (voice message) and said, “You’re right, it’s awful.” Apparently many women work at the NFL office (a handful) because when investigated, no one could find out who she was to find out what had happened to the ‘missing’ video!
Tom was given four games, a quarter of the season, for maybe knowing something about someone letting a little air out of the footballs. Which, the Ideal Gas Law proved that in certain weather conditions (cold), can cause footballs to deflate. The NFL took readings at half-time of the AFCCG but only tested 4 Colts balls to the Patriots 12, and used two different gauges with different readings, and had never recorded any readings before the game, because the whole issue was a non-issue before the Colts complained to the league! Maybe the fact that the Patriots have stomped on the Colts 4 times in the past few years has something to do with all this?
Robert Kraft thought he had a deal with Goodell: if he just took the outrageous punishment and was a good little owner, Goodell would reduce Tom’s four-game suspension, because even wife-beaters, child-beaters, and DUIs get reductions. Guess what? It was upheld, and now Goodell says that Tom was part of a scheme to deflate the footballs after only being ‘generally aware’. Kraft came out and said in so many words that he was double-crossed and should never have trusted the League (or his good buddy Goodell, who he had backed for the job of Commissioner and was the only owner to defend him during the Ray Rice mess). Backstab! Backstab! Backstab!
Also, there was an appeal hearing last June, and Goodell was the arbitrator, ruling on his own decision of punishment. He claimed that Tom only spoke about the deflation with equipment man John Jastremski, but after the appeal transcripts were ordered public by Judge Richard Berman, Tom clearly said that he had spoken not only about that but about the upcoming Super Bowl with Jastermski.
Goodell claimed that Tom destroyed his phone so that they couldn’t get any texts from him, conveniently letting out the fact that Wells had told Tom he didn’t need to turn over his phone. Brady and his lawyers handed over copies of the texts, but now Goodell was upholding the suspension for something that Tom had been told he didn’t need to do.
Oh, and the transcripts clearly showed that the Ravens did contact the league office about suspicions of deflated footballs while Coach John Harbaugh vehemently denied it. Speculation is that when he was caught with his pants down during the Division Game last January and Tom said in his presser that he should check the rule book, Harbaugh was out for revenge and contacted a buddy on the Colts to get the ball rolling. The Ravens, after all, are bastions of integrity, putting up a statue to a man who pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in a double homicide (Ray Lewis, now working for ESPN), a man who poured bleach on his girlfriend and her baby (Terrell Suggs) and was not fined or suspended by the team, and Ray Rice (popping his girlfriend in the face).
Even national media are starting to look good and hard at this farce. Reporters from The Washington Post and The New York Times are tearing down the NFL’s case. ESPN still backs the NFL, because as written in a major piece in Forbes Magazine, their partnership with the NFL doesn’t allow for them to go muckraking around and proclaiming that, hey, Brady might be innocent! Even rival players are looking at the ridiculous amount of games (which means loss of game checks) and saying it’s too much. Richard Sherman of The Seattle Seahawks pointed out that owners can only be fined up to $500,000 for transgressions while Brady will lose 1.8 million dollars. When Colts owner Jim Irsay was found in a car with a suitcase full of cash and pills after driving drunk, he was suspended two games (guess that meant he had to watch the games from home, huh?) and given a perfunctory fine.
Why do Patriots fans think the NFL is out to get them? Because they are! If Brady hadn’t played in the opener at Gillette Stadium on September 10th, there was a fan movement of #no brady, no banner. We’d raise the banner when Tom comes back. Now he’s back, and the son of owner Robert Kraft (Jonathan) revealed that they would have unveiled a Brady-themed banner if he couldn’t have played Opening Night.
Part of Brady’s suspension is for ‘non-cooperation’, though he gave all the relevant texts, met with Wells for hours, and so on. Brett Favre didn’t cooperate during the investigation in his sending pictures of his junk to a female Jets employee and was fined $50,000, no game suspension.
I guess the only way for the rest of the league to defeat the Patriots is off the field. Pathetic. The reek of envy pours off these people in the front office and around the league.