Monday, August 17, 2015

Why would Roger Goodell go after Tom Brady?

From the first pages of the Wells Report, it's clear that Tom Brady was in the NFL's crosshairs. It took a logical stretch, but Mr. Wells was sure to hang that "more probably than not... generally aware" label on old number twelve, opening the door for Troy Vincent and Roger Goodell to slap him across the teeth with a good, hard punishment.

The suspension itself proves that Brady must be guilty, some people say. Why would Roger Goodell go after Tom Brady, maybe the most recognizable face in the NFL, a man who has done nothing but promote good sportsmanship and class for the past decade and a half? Why would he punish him so severely, unless he had no choice?

The answer is deceptively simple, and you're on the right track with the "no choice" bit.

The outcome of this case was determined at 1:15am on the morning of January 19, 2015, just a few hours after the AFC championship game ended, and it was no more in doubt than the 45-7 final score. The Patriots were being investigated for tampering with their footballs, Bob Kravitz wrote, and just like that, an entire nation made up its mind. The Patriots were cheating. Again.

It's pretty funny how we Pats fans talk about "evidence" and "due process", as if this were America or something. Most of us fail to realize the condition the rest of the football world is in when it comes to our Patriots. 

Here in New England, the Patriots deserve to be innocent until proven guilty. They deserve to have a neutral party carefully study the facts and draw reasoned conclusions. 

Here in New England.

In anyplace but New England, it's no longer the United States. It's not even the Wild West. In the Wild West, at least you could carry a gun, and if you went down in a hail of bullets,  you could take a few of the bad guys with you. We're way past that.

Non-New England football fans live in an alternate universe. Patriot haters have undergone more systematic abuse than Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs. Brady has a winning record against every single team in the NFL. He collects AFC East titles the way the rest of us collect 5-cent deposit cans. He seems to be in the Super Bowl every couple of years, and has already tied Joe Montana for the most championships by a QB, ever. And, most horrifyingly of all, he seems not to have gotten the memo that he's supposed to be in wind-down mode. 

In short, Tom Brady simply refuses to stop winning.

There's no weakness, no chink in the armor, nothing for a spiteful adversary to sink his teeth into. He's got the chiseled features of a Hollywood actor, and his wife, the woman he falls asleep next to every night, has appeared about 10,000 times in the Victoria's Secret catalogs that every high school boy hides under his mattress.

So no, when it comes to Tom Brady, there will be no due process. There will be no reasoned conclusions. There will be no logic. Now that they finally smell blood, there will only be Hell to pay.

The facts are irrelevant. The evidence was gathered in 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2014. The irrefutable proof lies in Brady's four "rings", which look more like WWE championship belts. Unless you're a Patriots fan, January 19th felt like Christmas morning to you--and when you rip that package open, you're not going to settle for an argyle sweater from grandma.

This presents a problem for our pal Roger, who's got all the swagger of a substitute teacher. He couldn't persuade you to jump in a pool if your socks were on fire. He's not an innovative thinker or an engaging speaker. About all he can do is find out which way the wind is blowing and point his sails accordingly.

After the January 19 story, Goodell had to find the Patriots guilty. If he looked into it for three days or a week, then said,"Everything's fine--nothing to see here!" there would've been a tsunami of criticism:

"Goodell went easy on Ray Rice--now he's doing it again with the Patriots. He's gone soft on us!"
"Roger's burying another scandal for his BFF, Bob Kraft!"
...and so on.

He had to put the wood to the Patriots to satisfy the masses, and once he committed to that, he had to do the same to Tom Brady. How would it sound if he said, "Well, the Patriots were tampering, but Brady, the guy who handled the footballs on every play, knew nothing about it"? Again, the angry mob would never go for it.

Goodell's smear campaign against Brady was really just typical NFL media relations at work: Nothing is more important than getting the first headline. Striking first in the media allows you to set the narrative, to control the storyline. Maybe he didn't intend to harm Brady, but that was most definitely the result.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Roger and Me

Roger Goodell, Commissioner
National Football League
345 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10154


Dear Commissioner:

As a lifelong NFL fan and customer, I have taken a great interest in the Wells Report and the penalties issued pursuant to it by your office.

After a thorough review of the report, and the transcript of Tom Brady's appeal hearing, serious questions remain with respect to which gauge was used by Referee Anderson for the pre-game inspection. I understand that you have accepted Attorney Wells' theory that Anderson used the Non-Logo Gauge, but no matter how ironclad it seems to be, it is still just a theory, not a fact, and can and should be subjected to a higher level of scrutiny than it has been--especially in light of three facts:

  1. Referee Anderson reconstructed the pre-game inspection in great detail from memory, including the minor variations in the PSIs of each teams' footballs. He also recalled that he used the Logo Gauge for the pre-game inspection. True, he did say he could have been mistaken, but it's unclear whether he offered this caveat on his own because he was truly uncertain, or rather simply admitted under questioning that he was not 100% positive.
  2. The football intercepted by D'Qwell Jackson was measured in the officials' locker room by NFL Director of Game Day Operations James Daniel, using the Patriots' game-day gauge, just as halftime was starting. The resulting three readings amount to a halftime measurement of a Patriots football using the Patriots' gauge, which provides a valuable comparison point to the other 11 Patriot footballs. The average of the three measurements of the Jackson football was 11.52 PSI, nearly identical to the 11.49 average of the other 11 balls on the Logo Gauge--and far above the 11.11 average on the Non-Logo Gauge. This strongly suggests that the Patriots' gauge matches the Logo Gauge, and therefore that the Logo Gauge was used pre-game.
  3. Mr. Wells testified at the appeal hearing that he could not find either team's game-day gauge. Wells' firm was hired five days after the game, and frankly, it strains credulity to suggest that both teams' gauges disappeared without a trace so soon after the conclusion of the game. 

Sadly, the Wells Report hasn't exactly enjoyed universal acceptance since it was released. A long line of researchers, amateur and professional, have loudly questioned all of its major conclusions. Given the harsh punishments issued by your office, and in the interest of transparency and full disclosure, you can, and should, endeavor to increase the comfort level of NFL fans everywhere by releasing all materials related to this investigation.

Failing a full release of all materials, I hereby respectfully request the following:

  1. Transcripts, notes, and any other documentation pertaining to all testimony of:
             Walt Anderson
             James Daniel
             Sean Sullivan
             John Jastremski
  2. A list of individuals who were questioned about the whereabouts of the teams' gauges, and any transcripts, notes, and other documentation related to their testimony, if not included in item 1 above.

Certainly, it would be expected and appropriate for your office to redact any portions of the above materials that are obviously sensitive, but I hasten to add that the NFL is not a government agency dealing in state secrets, or any other clearly confidential information. Your primary goal, and the goal of everyone you employ, should be to serve the fans--those who spend hard-earned money on tickets and merchandise, and who faithfully watch your games--without whom there would not be a National Football League. To those fans, sir, you owe a debt, not just of gratitude, but of transparency. In short, you must tell us everything you know, not just because it might change our minds, but because it is right--and because it would prove to the world that you had nothing to hide.

While it is true that the facts of the case have been judged, and are no longer available for review on their merits, a level of doubt remains. It is therefore beneficial to make as much of the truth as possible available for review by any interested parties.

I thank you in advance for your time and cooperation on this most critical matter.

Kind regards,
Dave Garofalo

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Troy Vincent, man who suspended Tom Brady, may possibly have not read the Wells Report

On the integrity-of-the-game issue, let's start with Brady. Why did you decide to suspend him for four games?
Troy Vincent:
As with all cases regarding on-field discipline, we conduct due diligence, make a determination and write up the recommendation on the discipline for the violation. There were a lot of factors considered inside of that recommendation.
Like what?

Troy Vincent:
The commissioner has all of the information, and, as he has previously stated, he's going to evaluate it and make a decision.

Why is Troy Vincent unable to articulate even one factor that was considered "inside of that recommendation"? He is the one who signed the letter to Tom Brady. He is, supposedly, the one who decided on the punishment that was later approved by Roger Goodell. Any man who is going to suspend a QB for 25% of the season ought to understand those 243 pages inside and out. And instead, he punted on a simple question.

No one asked him who "had the information", though Vincent had damn well better have it, since he is the one who issued the suspension. No one asked about the appeal that Brady filed on June 23, which presumably is the "decision" Vincent refers to above. Vincent simply stated that "there were a lot of factors considered inside of that recommendation", which refers to the original suspension of Brady. Vincent easily could have, and should have been able to, explain why he recommended such a severe punishment. But he chose not to do so. Why?

I will contact Troy Vincent at the NFL offices tomorrow and ask why he refused to answer the question above. Stay tuned.
In a 60 Minutes interview on February 3, 2015, Troy Vincent admitted that he DID NOT READ the report submitted by Robert Mueller. Mueller was hired by the NFL to investigate whether anyone at the NFL had actually seen the Ray Rice video before it was released by TMZ.

Mueller, you will recall, determined that no one at the NFL offices saw the Ray Rice video. No punishments were issued. Even at that, it's inexcusable that someone in Vincent's position couldn't be bothered to read the report, regardless of its conclusions.

In this case, however, Vincent HIMSELF issued a massive fine and took draft picks from the Patriots, and suspended Brady for four games. And the more I delve into this, the more it seems that Troy Vincent, the Executive Vice President for football operations, didn't read any of the Wells Report.

And by the way, what does he mean, "The crime had already been committed"? Apparently Mr. Vincent only reads reports for crimes that have not occurred yet!

I really hope he has an explanation for me tomorrow.

I just emailed Jeffrey Kessler, Brady's attorney, and updated him on my research. How amazing would it  be to get Vincent under oath and watch him squirm??

UPDATE 8/3/2015:
I called Troy Vincent's office at the NFL and was referred to a media rep who hasn't returned my call yet.