• Tossing the Ball Around: FP Writers Weigh In on Pats Penalties


    Rich Gapinski:This article is a simple concept. All of us are going to give our thoughts on the possible resolution to the DefalteGate investigation. I'll start us off.

    RG: I ask everyone to please not be the person that starts talking about Tom Brady's legacy and how he compares to ARoid, Lance, Rose and others. If you are a person that doesn't believe that every top team and top athlete are always looking for an edge, then you might not understand sports very well. The problem here is that Roger and Co. got mad because it was the Patriots (again) and that Brady withheld information from the investigation. While it was within his right to do so, it gave logic to idea that Brady held his own smoking gun.

    The worst thing about the whole process is that the league and Roger Goodell continue to try to do something that they are clearly bad at. Part of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The league may have asked for an independent investigation on this but then they still decided on the punishment. Again, they are trying to act like a legal system while instilling too much power in certain areas and acting incompetently in others. Of course, the portions of the process where the league is most inefficient are only the the most important parts of the process: punishment and precedent.

    Here's a quick NFL formula for you: PEDs = DeflateGate = Texting = 2 x summer 2014 Domestic Violence.

    How does that even make sense?

    Systems can only be as strong as their leaders and Roger Goodell is a great example. While he has his job in order to shoulder a lot of the blame owners would normally get, he is mostly responsible for the bulk of the bad PR the league has gotten during the last year or so. The main reason? Ruling with emotion and ruling without following precedent or written rules. Why do you think the league has lost some recent appeals? Well, maybe it's because the rulings put forth didn't make any sense.

    Goodell really has to stop making it so easy to bash him. Since the investigation stated that either (a) the ball boys (I refuse to call them anything different) did it on their own or (b) Brady knew about and directed it; I find it weird how the league could come down about as hard as they did on a team that was trying to intentionally injure players (BountyGate). Of course, in that case, a few people came clean. No one did in this one. That means at least part of the ruling is based on emotion. Managers who continually let their decisions be run by emotion either make big mistakes, lose their job or just don't become as successful as they can be. The punishment from yesterday screams "See?! I can punish the Patriots, too!" and "How dare you defy me!" with a dash of overreaction. Those are all emotional responses.

    Finally, I found it hilarious how much these Pats employees hated Tom Brady. It is pretty clear that these hourly guys tend to do their thing and often are able to get gifts from the players to sell so they can supplement their slightly-better-than-the-cheerleaders hourly wage. Even though it is likely that these guys made thousands of dollars on the side from Brady and/or other players giving them things to sell, they still hated him! If Tom Brady is willing to embrace his villain role, I think he should start walking around with a t-shirt of a naked Gisele on it. The text? "Yeah... I do."


    Patrick Sullivan: Let's look at this another way. The deflation of footballs is worth the Spygate punishment plus $250,000 and a fourth rounder plus the loss of the Super Bowl MVP for 25% of the regular season.

    Say what? Seriously?

    This is so outrageous as to be laughable. There are many, many netizens out there yammering on about the coverup being worse than the crime. What crime? The genesis of this thing has been brought into question. How does the league engage in a sting operation against one team? How do they not use at least the most basic unbiased comparative analysis? They could have done an impromptu check of the footballs being used in the NFC Championship game. They didn't. How do they not have even a rudimentary system for calibrating the P.S.I. gauges used to check the footballs? This is so simple. There are precision instrument outfits all across the country with the capability to calibrate even the simplest P.S.I. gauge. Yet, the multi-billion dollar entity that is the NFL does not bother to ensure they have the capability to properly gauge the inflation - or lack thereof - of a damn football.

    This is pathetic. No properly documented crime, no investigation. No investigation, no supposed coverup.

    Simple.

    What is Tom Brady's next move? Well, I hope he goes nuclear. You hear me, TB12? Take all four of your Super Bowl rings, stack them all on your right middle finger, and proudly and loudly extend said finger while wearing a t-shirt bearing the words "Suspended? Really? Deflate this. I'm retired." Squeeze your lovely wife into the frame, have someone else take the shot, post it on Facebook and break the internet.

    Out (for now).


    Brian Williams: I'm still trying to figure out what right the NFL has to punish Brady for not turning over his phone. Minus a police investigation that includes a search warrant, innocent or not, I am not handing my personal phone over to my employer. End of story.

    This whole thing really does feel like much ado about very little, doesn’t it? Rich hit on it at the very top of his comment— seemingly every player and every team in the history of ever look for an edge. Sometimes that edge is very much behind the line of acceptable, sometimes it toes the line, and often it inches past the line. There have been wink-winks and nod-nods and wink-nods going on since the beginning of time.

    Obviously, we’re now in the information age, which brings with it an overreaction about EVERYTHING when it comes to the media trying to out-scoop itself. (Can we start a fantasy scoop game where you get 5 points if your reporter gets a scoop, and 3 bonus points if ESPN has to reference on the bottom line that one of their reporters have confirmed said reporter’s scoop?) The days of chuckling over sandpaper falling out of Phil Niekro’s glove are gone, and the days where sports entities are forced to go above and beyond to make sure that they will never be caught tolerating inappropriate behavior is here to stay.

    It’s because of this mindset that it seems that the owners want a commissioner who’s willing to be the heavy, who’s willing to overreact if need be, even in the face of public criticism. Enter Roger Goodell, who has made a living going above and beyond when it comes to discipline. And if there’s one thing that’s been made clear, while the public sentiment may be strongly aligned against Goodell, the owners have been thrilled with his reactionary ways. In today’s society, in order to protect their brand, they’ve decided that it’s better to go over-the-top with regard to discipline than to end up looking bad. We’ve seen this with players being suspended randomly over the sudden advent of an ethical code, along with the discipline levied regarding things like Spygate, Bountygate, Ray Rice, sideline texting, artificial crowd noise, and a myriad of other examples I’m likely glossing over.

    But what I keep coming back to in my head is the point that this is all exactly what the owners, INCLUDING BOB KRAFT, want. Kraft has been one of Goodell’s biggest supporters over the years, publicly supporting the continual reactionary and arbitrary stances that he’s taken. Now, suddenly, Kraft has a problem with Goodell doing EXACTLY WHAT THE OWNERS ARE PAYING HIM TO DO! Is it an overreaction? Of course! But in this day and age, if there’s even a thought that the integrity of a game may have been compromised, even over something as stupid as over-inflated or deflated balls, the owners have made it clear that they want their commissioner to react in an over-the-top manner.

    If you give the QBs a chance to dictate grip, stuff like this is going to happen. I’m not sure why anyone in the NFL would be surprised/appalled by this. Easy solution- mandate one ball size, use a standard gauge, keep the balls in the hands of league officials at all times, and be done with it. Otherwise, if you give flexibility, QBs will use that flexibility to its fullest, and then some. But since the Patriots were caught, the NFL was forced to react. Had this been the Colts, Packers, Steelers, or anyone else, I have a funny feeling that Bob Kraft would have fully supported the commissioner. And if we go by previous precedent, maybe the Pats got off easy. Sean Payton had no knowledge of the bounty system being used by his DC, yet was told that he was accountable for the people under him, and was suspended for a year. If that’s the standard, shouldn’t Bill Belichick, who I firmly believe had no knowledge of any of this, also be facing his own accountability?

    Does anyone else miss the days of ignorance?


    Evan Vracar: I like to think that I'm still living my life as ignorantly as possible, thank you very much.

    The part that most disturbs me about all this, and has been touched on by pretty much everyone else already, is that the public at large is now applauding Goodell for handing down punishment to the supposed "Golden Boy" in Tom Brady and making a clear statement that nobody is untouchable, regardless of stature in the sport. People were going to applaud no matter what the punishment was, just as long as there was one and it made Tom Brady miss games and paychecks. It could have been two games, four games, eight games, or even a whole season; and honestly none of those options would have particularly surprised me as Goodell's ruling because it's been established that everything is being made up as he goes along and past rulings don't seem to matter.

    Doesn't anyone else think that suspensions in the NFL shouldn't be treated like the points in an episode of "Whose Line is it Anyway?" I thought we were getting closer to that point, but this seems to have reversed things completely as Goodell gets praised for being the iron fist of justice while once again pulling a punishment out of his posterior that he alone gets to have say in. It isn't even just fans this time either; I've seen several current and former NFL players on social media agree with the ruling and give props to Goodell for putting Brady in his place. It's unsettling to see the wind switch directions with such unanimity, but yet here we are.

    It probably doesn't help either that since "Deflategate" became a thing in the first place months ago that I couldn't bring myself to see it as a serious issue. Not even getting into the science of whether or not using a deflated football actually does provide any advantage to an offense, it all just seemed so silly even at the time. I felt vindicated too after a couple of weeks passed and the story started to fade out of the news stream; eventually being forgotten about almost entirely for months until Ted Wells released his report on the investigation he undertook to get to the bottom of things. Meanwhile the Browns' General Manager is sending text messages to the coaching staff during games and it hardly manages to register as a blip on most people's radar. The Falcons too - for piping in crowd noise during games, though I will always firmly believe anytime a team gets caught doing that that it's really just more sad than anything else. I know, Tom Brady makes for a much easier target, but his "crime" is also arguably the least impactful of the three examples.

    Plus there's the fact that Aaron Rodgers freely admitted that he likes to have his footballs over-inflated, something he said to Jim Nantz and Phil Simms weeks before the AFC Championship Game and was then repeated on air by the broadcasting duo. They even quoted him as saying that Rodgers will "even go over what they allow you to." Not a single eyelash was batted on that day or on any other subsequent days. I'm by no means saying that Rodgers deserves some kind of punishment, but just that we can't just pick and choose when to punish and when not to for the same damn thing.


    RG: Over the last couple of days, I have become increasingly amused at how the rest of the league is reacting to this. It really feels like the inner-workings of the league are nothing more than a microcosm of a bad high school TV drama. The other players and teams sound like the nerds basking in the glory of something bad finally happening to the cool kids in school. Tom Brady is the head cheerleader who just got bad acne for the first time. In short, the other teams are cheering for Goodell because he was able to act out their spite. It's hilarious.

    All of this is going on despite the base fine for the offense in question being $25,000 and that so many former quarterbacks have come out to say that this type of stuff is common practice. Obviously, it always stinks to be the team that got caught. The lesson here I think is that if you are the Patriots, you definitely don't want to get caught.

    Yes, I thought that Tom Brady deserved some sort of punishment and I thought that he would get extra tacked on for not disclosing any of his records but this seemed like overkill. Why wasn't Julian Edelman suspended for enjoying his life after the Super Bowl? With the evidence put forth, he's just as guilty as the rest of the team.

    Comments 152 Comments
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Oh, man, this just keeps getting worse for the league. It turns out the officials only tested four Colts' footballs at halftime. The general incompetence and ridiculous anti-Patriots bias shown by the league is damning, to say the least.

      Yep, Mr. Kensil you really put the hammer to 'em.

      {}
    1. hobbes27's Avatar
      What people seem to be missing about this is that the coverup is far worse than the crime itself. If Tom Brady at some point had said "Yeah, I like my balls a little bit underinflated. And I told my equipment guys that I like it that way. I am sorry for what has happened and I will do my best to work with the NFL to protect the integrity of the game." Brady gets a $25,000 fine, end of story. Its not the crime, its the coverup. We are a forgiving nation. Heck, we forgive steroid users who come out and admit that they did it. So certainly a huge portion of the population would have forgave Brady.

      I sure hope this fight and defiance is worth it to Brady, because a significantly portion of the population is going to forever brand him a cheater and never forgive him. He may get his suspension overturned, but his reputation is going to be forever tarnished regardless.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      A renowned smart dude calls bull**** on the Wells report.

      In summary I believe the data available on ball pressures can be explained on the basis of physical law, without manipulation. The scientific analysis in the Wells Report was a good attempt to seek the truth, however, it was based on data that are simply insufficient. In experimental science to reach a meaningful conclusion we make measurements multiple times under well-defined physical conditions. This is how we deal with the error or ‘spread’ of measured values. In the pressure measurements physical conditions were not very well-defined and major uncertainties, such as which gauge was used in pre-game measurements, affect conclusions. Finally, the claim of a statistically significant difference in pressure drop between the two team balls regardless of which gauge was used did not account for the fact that the Colts balls were apparently measured at the end of halftime since the officials ran out of time and made only four measurements – in other words, the Colts balls were measured after the Patriots balls and had warmed up more. For the above reasons, the Wells Report conclusion that physical law cannot explain the pressures is incorrect.

      Roderick MacKinnon
      Professor, Nobel Laureate Chemistry
    1. Matt Kocsan's Avatar
      I'm going to push back a little bit here. From the Patriots:



      This is insulting to my intelligence. Something was clearly going on, it's just a question of how good the proof is and how much it matters even if it is true. Anyway, you guys had four months to come up with a story, and this is what you've got?
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by hobbes27 View Post
      What people seem to be missing about this is that the coverup is far worse than the crime itself. If Tom Brady at some point had said "Yeah, I like my balls a little bit underinflated. And I told my equipment guys that I like it that way. I am sorry for what has happened and I will do my best to work with the NFL to protect the integrity of the game." Brady gets a $25,000 fine, end of story. Its not the crime, its the coverup. We are a forgiving nation. Heck, we forgive steroid users who come out and admit that they did it. So certainly a huge portion of the population would have forgave Brady.

      I sure hope this fight and defiance is worth it to Brady, because a significantly portion of the population is going to forever brand him a cheater and never forgive him. He may get his suspension overturned, but his reputation is going to be forever tarnished regardless.
      I think TB12 believes he can prove the balls were in fact, inflated properly before the game. IOW, there was no coverup because there was no infraction.

      That would be my stance as well. The NFL - in its zeal to appear righteous - grossly overstepped this time and they are going to end up feeling the hammer fall, not Brady (IMHO).
    1. Matt Kocsan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Sullivan View Post
      I think TB12 believes he can prove the balls were in fact, inflated properly before the game. IOW, there was no coverup because there was no infraction.

      That would be my stance as well. The NFL - in its zeal to appear righteous - grossly overstepped this time and they are going to end up feeling the hammer fall, not Brady (IMHO).
      I think this is a touch too rosy. I also think this clause, which PFT wrote up, is going to be a problem for Brady in getting the suspension completely expunged.
    1. Matt Kocsan's Avatar
      Just two guys, talking about how they're trying to gain and/or lose weight, right?



      Now, none of this proves that there was a problem with the footballs specifically on the day of the AFC Championship, but don't treat me like I'm a moron.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Okay, I now dislike everyone involved. The entire league. The media. The fans. Us. Me. I'm going to go watch some DeGrassi Junior High.

      When do games start?
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Rich Gapinski View Post
      Okay, I now dislike everyone involved. The entire league. The media. The fans. Us. Me. I'm going to go watch some DeGrassi Junior High.

      When do games start?
      http://www.arenafootball.com/sports/...030515aad.html
      http://www.arenafootball.com/ot/afl-on-espn3.html
      http://www.arenafootball.com/sports/...030415aae.html

      AFL, man. It's all about the AFL.
    1. Matt Kocsan's Avatar
      I don't really like the role of 'yeah, punish the Pats,' but as Columbus sportswriter Lori Schmidt points out, ESPN was going to be interested in the Deflator's weight loss goals?



      Again, I'm not saying there's a smoking gun, as it were. It doesn't sound like you can say, with absolute certainty, that this ball on that day was this unacceptably far below league regs.

      Of course, one of my lawyer friends (we all have those, right?) was telling me that 'probably more than not' is a standard of evidence in civil cases in the United States. Of course, in a civil case, there would have been subpoenas to actually look at Brady's cell phone, however much or little that may have told investigators.

      To be fair, this looks like the least important conspiracy in history. The upshot of this is a big (properly inflated) ball of so-what?, I think. Just don't tell me it's about weight.
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      they should get another suspension just for trying to pass this off as "a guy trying to lose weight"


      Take your punishment and be done with it. Don't open your mouth and just make things worse.
    1. hobbes27's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Matt Kocsan View Post
      I'm going to push back a little bit here. From the Patriots:



      This is insulting to my intelligence. Something was clearly going on, it's just a question of how good the proof is and how much it matters even if it is true. Anyway, you guys had four months to come up with a story, and this is what you've got?
      The problem with this story, at least according to Wells, is that he wanted to interview McNally after finding out new information such as being known as the "deflator" and the Patriots wouldn't allow him to do so. So to claim that the NFL or Wells had not followed up on the information when your organization specifically prevented them from following up on this information is stupid and arrogant to claim.
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      I hope This gets even more ridiculous. Shefter and Glazer getting into a fight over who broke the story that Brady and Wells got into a pissing contest.
    1. hobbes27's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Sullivan View Post
      I think TB12 believes he can prove the balls were in fact, inflated properly before the game. IOW, there was no coverup because there was no infraction.

      That would be my stance as well. The NFL - in its zeal to appear righteous - grossly overstepped this time and they are going to end up feeling the hammer fall, not Brady (IMHO).
      I would like to see how they can prove that. They can prove that the NFL doesn't have conclusive evidence that the balls were deflated before the game. But I don't see how they can prove a definite in that the balls were properly inflated before the game.

      But again, the lack of cooperation from the Brady camp is really what bothers the NFL more here than the infraction itself. If the Brady camp on appeal can provide evidence to explain all of this, then the NFL probably would be satisfied to overturn the full suspension. But I'm pretty sure that isn't going to happen.
    1. hobbes27's Avatar
      I think the Patriots will be fine. They found an UDFA to take over for Brady.

      http://firewallnova.com/2015/05/patr...brady-absence/
    1. Amy's Avatar
      Here's the Pats full rebuttal. Some parts have been quoted above, but it's still worth the read.

      http://wellsreportcontext.com/

      I have the Super Bowl 49 locker room hat (finally, my Super Bowl 38 one needed replacing, 39s was ugly, so I skipped), and it's white. I love it, but I so wish it was black!
    1. Matt Kocsan's Avatar
      Welp.

      Darin Gantt
      ‏@daringantt

      The more I read this Patriots rebuttal, the more convinced I become that I'm witnessing the Chewbacca Defense in real life.

    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by hobbes27 View Post
      I would like to see how they can prove that. They can prove that the NFL doesn't have conclusive evidence that the balls were deflated before the game. But I don't see how they can prove a definite in that the balls were (im)properly (de)flated before the game. {fixed that for you}

      But again, the lack of cooperation from the Brady camp is really what bothers the NFL more here than the infraction itself. If the Brady camp on appeal can provide evidence to explain all of this, then the NFL probably would be satisfied to overturn the full suspension. But I'm pretty sure that isn't going to happen.
      My point is there was no reasonable grounds for the investigation. The NFL can claim competence in their gauging the air pressure all they want. They have zero credibility (and I think, deep down, they know this). If I'm Brady, I give them nothing because I know, whatever happens, I'll win in the end.

      BTW, this is me trying to get into to TB12's brain. Do I think he'll get off completely? Probably not.
    1. ScottDCP's Avatar
      I have hard time with these investigations into non-criminal actions. There is circumstantial evidence supporting both possibilities. Wells appears to be a ****heel who is definitely a company man. Eh. Integrity of the game is a big deal. If they are going to come down hard on an effort to cheat that harms said integrity, then let them. If they want to look like idiots, then let them. Until they hire me I don't have any vested interest in their PR or marketing positions.

      I am more bothered by the idiots who are signing up to donate money to the team.

      One qualifier, I haven't paid it a lot of mind, getting mot of my information form occasional glimpses at PFT.
    1. ScottDCP's Avatar
      And it looks like Brady and the team are totally getting the beating for being uncooperative and mistrusting. I do not fault them for that.