Let me start by saying I was (gulp) wrong. Now if only NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would just say the same thing and Tom Brady would apologize for not being “cooperative” we could all start talking about football instead of the legal garbage. Unfortunately, that’s too simplistic at this stage.
In my recent article on “Deflategate”, published before Wednesday’s conference between Judge Richard Berman, the NFL legal team and Tom Brady’s attorneys I mistakenly said this isn’t about whether Brady knew about the deflation of the NFL’s balls.
Judge Berman, to the NFL’s chagrin, quickly dispelled that notion when he grilled NFL Attorney Daniel Nash about the proof of Tom Brady’s involvement in a conspiracy. And, (use your Gomer Pyle voice please) “sur-prise, sur-prise” …the Judge doesn’t understand how the NFL made their case in “Deflategate.” Here’s what he asked Nash:
“What is (the) evidence of scheme or conspiracy that covers the January 18 game? I’m having trouble with that.”
The NFL’s “So What” Defense
Yup, he went down that road despite everyone’s understanding that the legal issue was whether due process was given properly. And guess what the NFL Legal Team’s answer to just about every question was? You got it, the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed off on by the players, including Mr. Brady, states the Commissioner can make the decision based upon his judgement…in other words the nah, nah, it doesn’t matter whether he is proven guilty or not defense.
I acknowledge I may have (OK, did) made the NFL look guilty of any real conspiracy by highlighting the most explosive part of the hearings. Judge Berman did state he still hadn’t made any decision on the case, so not to read too much into the questions he asked…but c’mon. “I’m having trouble with that“ sure sounds like he isn’t buying into why this has arrived in his court.
The judge questioned both sides and asked most of the questions fans, both pro and con Brady, have asked for going on seven months now.
- Is there a solid link between Brady and any “direct evidence” connecting Tom Brady to the balls being tampered with?
- Is there an e-mail tie between John Jastremski, the equipment assistant, and Jim McNally, the officials’ locker room attendant on that infamous day.
Dash’s reply, “no,” but (to paraphrase the rest) there’s enough circumstantial evidence to link Brady. Also see the “So What” defense above. At the meeting Brady’s attorney, Jeffrey Kessler, acknowledged that the Patriots’ QB wasn’t completely innocent in the Deflategate fiasco by not fully cooperating with the investigation on the advice of his agent Don Yee. That seemed like a first step in the right direction.
BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
Now that we have the sensational headline out-of-the-way, the question becomes what went on behind closed doors? No matter what you see, hear or read…don’t believe it until a final agreement is reached or (oh no) it goes to court. Everyone (except me, of course) has highly informed secret sources who can’t be revealed because of privacy agreements (you know, freedom of the press) and “leaks” will occur…but until it comes from the horse’s mouth (sorry Judge Berman, didn’t mean to call you a horse) don’t buy into anything!
The parties continued to meet in private until after 7PM Wednesday. That’s a long time to not do anything, provided nothing was accomplished. Now it’s my turn to speculate that, if the NFL insists on Brady accepting the accuracy of the Wells report (as rumored) this case has a long, long way to go. If however the NFL is willing to exclude that caveat there is some wiggle room.
The problem remains that no matter how many people poke holes in the report the NFL adamantly refuses to budge. Why, oh why, would Tom Brady now say he’d accept the report and acknowledge he lied under oath and set himself up for even more ridicule? It’s not going to happen…in my humble opinion.
SO WHAT NOW
Although both Brady and Goodell were present, they both let their legal counsel do all the talking after introducing themselves to the court. What happens next is up to the NFL (Goodell) and NFLPA (Brady) while Judge Berman awaits for the next get together, scheduled for August 19. He has flatly told them that they must have meaningful settlement discussions and wants them to make progress between now and that conference. Will that occur? Both sides will have to make some major concessions if a settlement is arrived at…and dammit, that’s highly unlikely.
All the opinions in this article are mine and have been influenced by my skewed look at things through the eyes of a lifelong Patriot fan. I admit it, so please, hold back on the hate comments.
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