The Great NFL Hypocrisy: Deflategate, Tom Brady, and the New England Patriots

The Atlanta Falcons were found guilty of pumping in crowd noise for two years. Punishment: $350,000 fine, loss of a fifth round draft pick.

The Cleveland Browns were found guilty of illegal texting during the game. Punishment: $250,000 fine and a four game suspension for their General Manager.

The New York Jets were found guilty of openly, illegally tampering with then Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis. Punishment: $100,000 fine.

Everyone remember Ray Rice's initial punishment? Well, in Goodell's defense, there was no report using such strong language as "probably" for him to go on.
Everyone remember Ray Rice’s initial punishment? Well, in Goodell’s defense, there was no report using such strong language as “probably” for him to go on.

The independent Wells Report, set in place by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (yes, this Roger Goodell), finds that New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady was probably “at least generally aware” of violating the rules with the now infamous Deflategate scandal. The same report also found that “said league investigators found no evidence that coach Bill Belichick and team management knew of the practice.

Punishment: $1,000,000 fine. Loss of 1st and 4th round draft picks. Tom Brady suspended for four games without pay.

Seems fair.

Oh wait, sorry – ha I’m always mixing up my words. As a writer, that can be pretty annoying. Not fair… uhm, what’s the word I’m looking for here – it will come to me – oh here we go: f*cking ridiculous. That’s two words, no wonder I was confused. I apologize.

Months ago, Patriots' owner Robert Kraft demanded an apology from Roger Goodell for wasting money and resourcing in a baseless attempt to sully Brady and the Patriots. I guess this was the response.
Months ago, Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft demanded an apology from Roger Goodell for wasting money and resources in a baseless attempt to sully Brady and the Patriots. I guess this was the response.

Before I get into this, let the record show: it’s just a sport. There are so many worse things going on, well… within that particular organization, that to call this the NFL’s greatest mistake or mistreatment in the past year would be a large overstatement. You can do plenty worse things than mistreat a franchise, just ask the Baltimore Ravens.

Let the record also show that I am a Patriots’ fan, and as a Patriots’ fan let me say: the Patriots were found rightfully guilty in Spygate and signing a contract extension with now-murderer Aaron Hernandez gave me quite a bit of disgust for my home team (I used to cheer for that psychopath). So I am not a blind “Patriots can do no wrong” kind of guy.

I stand by my f*cking ridiculous statement.

The bizarre saga of Deflategate has gone from “what?” to “really?” to “come on.” over the past few months. For the record, I believe the last time the NFL ordered an independent investigation into a matter, it was the Ray Rice case. The findings: Roger Goodell likely had no knowledge of the elevator videotape prior to its public release. Show of hands: how many people out there believe those findings?

Okay, so a private investigation was launched into potentially criminal concealing of evidence… and whether or not balls were properly inflated during a 45-7 AFC Championship beating. Right away, it seems odd to have the same reaction to such wildly different scenarios. But surely, there must be a precedent for this? This ball tampering must be a serious, serious charge with strong punishments? Well, turns out this has happened before with the San Diego Chargers. Their punishment: a $20,000 fine. Wow, that seems irregular.

So clearly the issue is not the ball tampering, but a further charge:

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 01:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots waits near the bench during the first half of the game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on December 1, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

“With respect to your particular involvement, the report established that there is substantial and credible evidence to conclude you were at least generally aware of the actions of the Patriots’ employees involved in the deflation of the footballs and that it was unlikely that their actions were done without your knowledge,” Vincent wrote. “Moreover, the report documents your failure to cooperate fully and candidly with the investigation, including by refusing to produce any relevant electronic evidence (emails, texts, etc.), despite being offered extraordinary safeguards by the investigators to protect unrelated personal information, and by providing testimony that the report concludes was not plausible and contradicted by other evidence.”

Ah, so it is because Brady lied. Well, if it is proved with such strong language in the report like “maybe” and “probably” and “at least generally” and “more likely than not,” I mean, that just sounds so definitive, right? Forget legal language, if you used those phrases in a college essay, you would get at best a “C” and a “use a stronger voice” comment from the professor. Brady’s crucifying lack of cooperation was his refusal to turn over his personal phone and email.

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 22: Referee John Parry #132 holds a meeting with other officials during a game between the St. Louis Rams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Edward Jones Dome on December 22, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Rams beat the Buccaneers 23-13.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
I understand the outrage but lets stop pretending the Patriots are the only team to push the rules. The referees throw flags on every team.

Because only the most paranoid and guilty celebrities (with a supermodel wife) would refuse to turn over potentially personally devastating material to such an airtight organization like the NFL. They have not once ever leaked any material from any sort of investigation before… not once. And that, boys and girls, is how one uses sarcasm.

With increasing scrutiny turning on the Wells Report, and a potentially huge new hole surfacing earlier today, one wonders if the NFL and its elite team of 32 rich white guy owners have gone too far in their witch hunt of the New England Patriots. Many believe that Tom Brady will launch a lawsuit against the league and others (myself included) hope that owner Robert Kraft follows suit.

A referee was accused, convicted, and fired for stealing and replacing balls during the AFC championship game. Funny how that got left out of the report.
A referee was accused, convicted, and fired for stealing and replacing balls during the AFC championship game. Funny how that got left out of the report.

And as for punishing the Patriots, the team cleared by the Wells Report… you got me on that one. Great to see that Goodell is not above letting such petty things as facts stand in the way of punishing the Patriots… such a controversial move, to overly punish the team that most of the nation is jealous of/hates anyway.

This is discrimination, clear and simple. As a Patriots’ fan I can only say: sue the bastards, Tom. Beat ’em in court like you beat them on the field.

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