BY Art Thiel 03:31PM 07/28/2015

Brady’s dubious move puts Goodell on right side

Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld Tom Brady’s suspension in part because the Pats QB destroyed his cell phone and didn’t tell the NFL until June 18. For a change, Goodell is right.

At the Super Bowl in Phoenix, Patriots QB Tom Brady was all about denials. / Art Thiel, Sportspress Northwest

Pete Carroll is on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week for a story on how he and the Seahawks recover from the most notorious call in the history of Earth, edging past the real-estate investments made just ahead of the Great Permian die-off.

My guess is that next week’s cover will be Tom Brady, for being notorious, period.

It’s been quite a time for the entrants in Super Bowl XLIX. Never thought I’d say this, but if I were asked to choose the lesser perverse fate, I’d take the Seahawks’ self-snatch of certain victory over the Patriots into a 28-24 defeat, creating a firestorm of second-guessing that has helped speed global warming (hey, take a look at your lawn).

At least, the Seahawks in 2015 have a chance to play out of a lot of the ignominy with a successful pursuit of The Lost Yard. A long shot? Sure. But Brady has no shot.

The resolution Tuesday of the long simmering/snickering/stultifying Deflategate controversy was surprising: Arbitrator Roger Goodell upheld the decision of Roger Goodell’s commissionership to suspend the Patriots QB for four games for directing footballs to be deflated prior to the AFC Championship.

The conventional wisdom that Goodell, knowing how foolish it looked to others to have him sit in judgment of his own office’s judgment, would reduce or eliminate the suspension was upended for good reason — Brady destroyed the cell phone he had been using that contained incriminating texts.

The new evidence was important enough for Goodell to have it in the third paragraph of his 20-page statement explaining his decision on Brady’s appeal:

 On or shortly before March 6, the day that Tom Brady met with independent investigator Ted Wells and his colleagues, Brady directed that the cell phone he had used for the prior four months be destroyed. He did so even though he was aware that the investigators had requested access to text messages and other electronic information that had been stored on that phone. ‎During the four months that the cell phone was in use, Brady had exchanged nearly 10,000 text messages, none of which can now be retrieved from that device. The destruction of the cell phone was not disclosed until June 18, almost four months after the investigators had first sought electronic information from Brady.

The Brady camp is already issuing tut-tuts by claiming he always destroys his cell phones, apparently somewhat in the fashion of drug dealers employing burner phones. But that doesn’t work for this phone, and not on this timeline of disclosure.

June 18? Even grade-schoolers know that when deploying the dog-ate-my-homework excuse, it needs to get out early and often.

Whether one buys the premise that deflation makes a difference, or that cold weather was responsible, or that the investigation was tainted or a witch hunt, or that the media fascination with Deflategate was sound and fury signifying nothing, it’s obvious that Brady has been lying about his degree of knowledge/involvement.

He was sufficiently consumed by his lie that he made a choice to destroy evidence to create at least a veneer of mystery, rather than turn over the phone and remove all doubt about his complicity. It’s Lance Armstrong-esque, in kind if not degree.

Naturally, Brady’s agent Don Yee disagreed, releasing Tuesday a statement that said in part:

 “The Commissioner’s decision is deeply disappointing, but not surprising because the appeal process was thoroughly lacking in procedural fairness.

“Most importantly, neither Tom nor the Patriots did anything wrong. And the NFL has no evidence that anything inappropriate occurred.

“The appeal process was a sham, resulting in the Commissioner rubber-stamping his own decision. For example, the Wells investigative team was given over 100 days to conduct its investigation. Just days prior to the appeal hearing, we were notified that we would only have four hours to present a defense; therefore, we didn’t have enough time to examine important witnesses. Likewise, it was represented to the public that the Wells team was ‘independent’; however, when we requested documents from Wells, our request was rejected on the basis of privilege. We therefore had no idea as to what Wells found from other witnesses, nor did we know what those other witnesses said.

“These are just two examples of how the Commissioner failed to ensure a fair process.”

The process the NFL followed is spelled out for league and union in the collective bargaining agreement, and in fact allows Goodell to be the arbitrator. In this case, his decision on the appeal seems unlikely to be overturned if Brady decides, as has been widely speculated, to take an adverse decision to federal court. Legal experts say judges are usually averse to overturning an arbitrator’s judgment if the rules were followed.

However the legal issue plays out, however loud the screeches from the New England fan base, it appears that Brady’s relatively minor misdeed has morphed into a mockable spectacle in which Goodell, against all odds created by his ham-fisted tenure, comes out on the right side.

As is frequently the case with hyper-competitive, hyper-successful people, Brady cannot resist looking for an edge, even if the edge goes over the edge, as defined by the industry’s standards. Even after being caught, these alpha males have a hard time walking it back to contrition.

Ask Armstrong.

Might be even harder than spending an entire NFL season in pursuit of The Lost Yard.

The good news is now Goodell is freed up, at least temporarily, to explain how Junior Seau’s family doesn’t get to speak at his induction to the NFL Hall of Fame.


  • notaboomer

    whatever. nfl/goddell still not letting junior seau’s family speak at his posthumous hof induction b/c they will talk about how football causes brain damage.

    • John M

      They should be allowed to talk about it. At least the NFL can point to the ongoing work now to improve equipment and make the game safer. Football is a violent sport. People will get injured, just like they do in downhill ski racing and auto racing . . .

  • poulsbogary

    Whatever was in that phone was worse than i thought.

    • Jamo57

      Perhaps Brady came to the conclusion being suspended for 4 games was better than being cut by Gisele. There could be much more on that phone than texts about “Deflategate” that Tom never wants to see the light of day. LOL

      • poulsbogary

        A simpler way to have done this would be to say “oops, I lost the phone fishing in nantucket bay bay, i don’t have it anymore.” Very simple.

      • Kevin Lynch

        You got it! That was probably it. He didn’t want to be optioned out to Euphrata by Gisele. Can’t blame him.

      • dingle

        A compelling theory. I’m onboard.

        I wonder if Gisele would come after him with a golf club.

  • Kevin Lynch

    Careful, careful, NFL. Don’t iritate the NFLPA. They may decide it’s worth it to strike next time there’s a contract negotiation to get fully guaranteed contracts. The NFL has a lot to lose. Personally, I wouldn’t take on Brady and the NFLPA. There is still that comparison of four game suspensions that suggest the deflation of a football is a comparable offense to a convicted beating of your wife. Perhaps it’s that suspension reduction that should be looked at. But I wouldn’t throw gasoline on this fire.

    • TimJoFred

      The deflated balls have to do with the integrity of the game. Beating your fiance/girlfriend is terriby bad but it does not impact the game. It casts shame on and defames the player and the league as his employer. These are two different things. 20-30 years from now Ray Rice will be forgotten. Deflate Gate will live on in infamy. That is why it is important. Brady’s ego and arrogance won’t allow him to see it. He feels he can do anything he wants if he gets away with it. Anywhere else they call that hubris. I call him a cheater.

      • Kevin Lynch

        Well, look, I’m a Peyton Manning guy and not a Brady guy. But so many quarterbacks have weighed in and said it just doesn’t matter, ball inflation or deflation. If it mattered the NFL would have had tighter control and policy. Brady looked for an edge, sure. I grew up watching Gaylord Perry pitch for the Giants. The guy cheated every time out. Spitballs. Now he’s in the hall of fame. The guy is NOT a HOF player. He got away with murder. I’d just like the major sports to understand players are always looking for an edge. You need tight policies.

        • poulsbogary

          Well in regards to Gaylord, or biletnikoff, or lester hayes, everyone knew what they were doing. It was out in the open. You could see brown stickum all over their pants and jerseys. The competitiors knew what they were up against. The difference for the brady deal is nobody knew. They couldn’t prepare for it. Rex Ryan certainly didn’t know.

          • Kevin Lynch

            My favorite sports story about an instant on filed response to cheating, though it may not be true, apparently occurred during the 1928 baseball season, at the end of Ty Cobb’s career. He slid into second base with his spikes high, as he commonly did, and rookie Yankee second baseman Leo Durocher grabbed his legs, spread them apart and said “you slide into me like that again and I’ll break both your legs”. Instant karma. Regarding Brady, I think the judges order to reconcile will mean the suspension will be reduced, probably to a single game. Tom will have to be contrite. Maybe he and Kraft can convince them to suspend him for the Jacksonville game.

  • jafabian

    I don’t think Brady and his agent will take this to federal court. If they do and they find that Brady lied there will be very severe repercussions. You don’t lie to the federal courts. If at the beginning Brady said “This is my fault and I take full responsibility. I wasn’t aware the rules were so restrictive and mentioned to the equipment guys the footballs felt tight. Somewhere along the line there was a miscommunication but I should have followed up better and will be accountable in all this” then the NFL probably would have simply fined him. If his agent do take this to court there will be a huge can of works that I don’t believe they’re prepared to deal with. Kind of hoping they do.

    Do the dots connect directly to Brady? No. But the path to him is so glaring even Stevie Wonder could see it. One time Goodell said that an NFL career is not a right but a privilege and it’s time he start to hammer that point at everyone in the league Even it’s golden boy and his employer.

  • PokeyPuffy

    We haven’t heard the last of this! Kraft will be blowing his top like Yosemite Sam any minute now….

    • John M

      Maybe he could get The Donald to front for him . . .

  • Dale

    I still don’t see how people think using an underinflated football is not a serious offense. Imagine if only one pitcher in MLB could bring his own, smaller (underinflated) baseball to use while he is pitching. Would his records be legitimate? The underinflated football gives Brady more than just an advantage throwing the ball; it also makes it easier to catch, and more difficult for his backs to fumble. The effects really make all of Brady’s records and results illegitimate. The best move would have been to permanently bar Brady from the NFL, and remove all of his individual stats. The team stats are also compromised.
    And as for the MLB comparison, pitchers play in only every fourth or fifth game; Brady was the “pitcher” in every New England game, unless he was injured. This violation has a greater overall effect on the integrity of the NFL than some unfortunate guy beating up his girlfriend — that is just an individual weakness, with no direct intention to harm the NFL. Brady’s actions were a secret and directed attempt to disregard and destroy the fairness and integrity of the entire NFL, to his advantage. I think he realized this, and that is why he went through such efforts to stonewall all efforts by the NFL to get to the truth. In his case, the coverup is not worse than the crime — they match perfectly!

    • John M

      Well “pitched” analogy, though the published texts by the equipment guys was enough to convince me. Funny Goodell hasn’t mentioned them. Art’s Armstrong analogy is good in that it compares two guys who would be at the top of their sport without cheating, but found the need to do so. The puzzle now for me is how the Fallen One found time to write 10,000 texts in 4 months. Am I just behind the times or is that a bit extreme? . . .

    • poulsbogary

      In my mind the competitive advantage gained by doing this is very significant. Quite agree. I liken it to being able to “palm” a basketball, vs not being able to.

      • Dale

        Yes, it seems to me that the people who say there is no competitive advantage of using an underinflated football have never played backyard football, especially in cold weather. The difference between a soft football, where your fingers can grip it, and easily make impressions, and a hard, highly inflated football, that you cannot squeeze, is really great. Not just in throwing it, but in catching it, and holding onto it. I think this is especially the case if your hands are not exceptionally large.