Tuesday, June 23, 2015

It's Binary

Today is a day that many in New England have been waiting for.  Later this morning, Tom Brady will appeal his suspension and defend his contention that he did not cheat during the NFL playoffs last year.

All fans in New England are rooting for Brady.  An article in this morning's Globe put it well, "The fans...now turn to Brady for their team's absolution."  A little grand perhaps--it is only football--but the passion for sports and the following of the Patriots is great.  Nobody likes to have the joy of victory diluted by claims that the win was sullied.  One of my fiercest tennis competitors in the days back when I was playing, still seethes when he recalls a hard fought play off win when we were teammates.  This guy was a fighter and he managed by skill, wit, energy, and industry to defeat a stronger player in a teeming facility nearby.  The last point was a shot by the opponent that was close, but long.  My pal called it--appropriately--out, winning the match.  The opponent sneered, rolled his eyes, and asserted that it was a bum call.  Despite the victory, my friend felt as if his win had been stained. And that is how New England fans felt after the championship game and after the superbowl, when those in other cities attributed the championship to some sort of chicanery.

So now the hopes here are that Brady will refute the report, exonerate himself and the Patriots, and make us who follow the team feel as if we earned our joy.

The case, as I see it, is binary.  Either Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner has Brady by the short hairs or he doesn't.  If he does, and I think he might because otherwise I can not fathom why the NFL has done what it has done, then Brady goes home with his head between his legs and I have to hear from every Jet fan in the world that we, the Patriots, are a bunch of cheaters.  When I was in Florida a month or so back and walked into the condo cafe some guy I did not know, saw my Patriots tee shirt and shouted through the breakfast chatter, "Guilty."  I have a high school buddy who regularly drops e-mails in my box asserting that the Pats are thieves.

That chorus will be muted if Goodell does not have a smoking gun. And then Goodell is cooked and history.  The Wells report that is the basis for the suspension seems flawed even to someone like me who was never aces in physics.  The tests used different gauges, did not take into consideration the effects of inside/outside temperatures, and tested the two teams' footballs at different intervals allowing one set to warm up before measuring air pressure.  Do you have to have a Ph.D. in Physics to realize that the tests could not have been conclusive?

So, to me, the only way this suspension makes sense is if Goodell has information that suggests that Brady deliberately tried to skirt the rule to gain an advantage.

Of course I don't know Roger Goodell.  For his sake I hope he has a smoking gun.  Because if he does not, he has no way out and will smell for the rest of his life.   I'm always a little skeptical of nepotism.  If you are from New York you may remember Goodell's father, Charlie Goodell.  The dad was a courageous politician,  a Republican taking on Nixon and the Vietnam War during the first Nixon administration.  If memory serves he was such an outspoken critic that Republican loyalists would go to their mini conventions and croon, "Goodbye Charlie Goodell--You are going to hell."
And Goodell made an attempt in 1970 to maintain his senate seat running against Richard Ottinger and James Buckley.  Problem was that Goodell was a liberal Republican running without the endorsement of Nixon.  Ottinger was a liberal democrat. And Buckley was a conservative with the tacit endorsement of Nixon.  So, Ottinger and Goodell split the liberal vote, and James Buckley, running on the snooty campaign slogan, "Isn't it about time we had a senator" became the senator from New York.

But I admired Goodell's courage.  He stood up to Nixon when it cost him to do so.

His son, I don't get.  I wonder how much of a leg up he got because of his dad's background. What he has done with the so called Deflategate case really is mind boggling UNLESS he has a picture of Brady with a kangaroo.

But if he has a picture of Brady with a kangaroo, Brady and his team must know it.  And if they do, they are really risking peril and image by appealing the case.  If Goodell is just waiting for Brady to squawk before he says, "Wait a minute fellas, I got something you want to hear and see" then Brady is cooked.  Yet even in this scenario, why wouldn't Goodell just have pulled Brady aside and said, "Look Tom, I have this evidence.  Take your suspension and go quietly or else you are really going to look bad."

Again, it is binary.  If Goodell does not have the goods on Brady, the commissioner will be out of a job by the end of this year.  If Brady is innocent, then nothing short of total exoneration will be accepted.  Even if Goodell cops a "Well, now you are telling me something I did not know before," Goodell is cooked.

My best sense from my perch as a Patriots fan and general sense of human nature is that one of these two guys does not come out of this looking like he did before he went in.  And I don't think Brady would put his image on the line if he knew that there was scalding evidence out there.

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