All posts by Rhoby.Sala

NFL: The Deflation of Tom Brady

The verdict is in, and the Ginger Hammer strikes again!

A decision that should’ve brought out the duck boats on Boylston street again has left all of Patriots Nation in a state of upheaval.


I can’t imagine that any of you can find a silver lining to what has unfolded in the past few hours, but I have one. At least you’re not in Miami, listening to incessant rants from delusional Dolphins fans who are banking on the Harvard College Sports Analysis Collective’s Super Bowl 50 predictions (not to mention the humidity, which makes you feel like you’re a walking fried egg).

The fate of Deflategate, or “Deflatefate” is currently a four-game suspension for the four-time Super Bowl Champion Tom Brady. Let me be the first to point out that I am in no way looking to berate the league or its commissioner, however, I have read the Final Decision and the evidence Goodell finds sufficient enough to arrive to this conclusion, and I’m still inconclusive here.

Let’s begin with what the report claims as “the most significant new information” – a destroyed cellphone.

Tom Brady admitted to having his assistant destroy a cellphone he had been using since November 2014 at his appeal hearing in June. It is presumed (because NOWHERE in this report can an exact date be determined) that this was deliberately done “on or around” March 6th, the day the Patriots quarterback met with Ted Wells, the independent investigator hired by the league. During the appeal, Brady’s representatives presented a letter from the destroyed phone’s carrier indicating that text messages sent to and received by this phone could not be retrieved, but offered to devise a spreadsheet of all the individuals he had contact with from November 2014 – March 2015.

So, if the league cannot access phone records for a phone that was presumably destroyed, how can they estimate that around 10,000 text messages were sent during that time period?

The intention of devising a spreadsheet that includes all of the individuals Brady had contact with during that time period was for the league to use it at their will (you know, contact these individuals, receive their consent and review their phone records for any evidence). But of course, the league decided this was not practical. The most significant new information is really no information at all then. Brady was tampering with evidence and obstructing the investigation? How can that be proven when you can’t even bother to try an alternative method of obtaining information that can potentially substantiate a 139-page report that concludes “more probable than not” manipulation of footballs?

The report continues with a section called “Factual Determination and Findings” where for the millionth time we are reminded of what the weight of the footballs should be. Pop quiz: How many pounds per square inch should an NFL football weigh in order to be used in a game? (If you didn’t answer 12.5 to 13.5 psi, you must be a Dolphins fan.)

According to the report, inflation levels of footballs were “a matter of particular interest to Mr. Brady.” (Wouldn’t that be a detail of particular interest to any quarterback, or any ball handler for that matter, Mr. Goodell?)

Tom Brady informed his equipment staff he preferred the footballs to be inflated at the “lowest permissible level” and was even gracious enough to have the equipment staff present a “highlighted copy of the provision of the Playing Rules” to game officials. What happens after that cannot be proven to implicate the three-time Super Bowl MVP.
Another factor that played into Goodell’s decision was the fact that neither John Jastremski nor James McNally were called to testify during the appeal in June. The report indicates that there were important topics that could’ve have been addressed, particularly text messages where McNally refers to himself as “The Deflator”.

Wait, that and those other important topics that needed to be addressed were kept out of that infamous 139-page report?

Goodell concludes that the evidence in these reports support the idea that Brady was involved in an elaborate scheme to tamper with footballs after they had been inspected by game officials and obstructed the investigation by destroying his phone. He drew “upon his experience of more than thirty years in the National Football League, including nearly nine as a Commissioner.”


Did he draw upon his extensive experience in the NFL when he initially suspended Ray Rice for two games after he brutally beat his wife unconscious on camera?

Did he also draw upon his extensive experience in the NFL when he reduced Le’Veon Bell’s suspension to two games after he was arrested and charged with a DUI and possession of marijuana?

Look, there’s no denying that rules were broken here. Brady was appealing the punishment itself and it was upheld after more than six months of investigation that still fail to prove that he DEFINITELY played a role in this ridiculous scandal. So if this is sending any message to the league’s teams, players and fans, it’s one that implicates that the man at the helm’s judgement is deflated. (Too soon?)

NFL: The Seau Sanction.

The long and torturous wait is almost over.

In just eleven days, NFL fans starving for any on-field action will finally get their first taste of live football. Granted, it is just the Hall of Fame game that will feature second and third stringers on the field for the majority of the time, but I think I can speak for many when I say that fans will take whatever they can get in August. But like most of the news that comes out of the NFL nowadays, the headline overshadowing this year’s event is surrounding the controversial decision the Hall of Fame has made with regard to one of the inductees in this year’s class – former Patriot Junior Seau.


The “Tasmanian Devil”, whose passionate playing style reflected in every one of the 1800+ tackles, 56.5 sacks and 18 interceptions he recorded throughout an illustrious career made him a sure bet as a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Unfortunately, he won’t be taking the stage to wear a gold jacket, nor will we hear any speech on his behalf come August 9th, as the Hall of Fame will not allow his family to speak at the enshrinement ceremony. Instead, the NFL Network will produce a five minute tribute video immortalizing Seau’s accomplishments on the field and completely dismissing his life’s tragic end and a little wrongful-death lawsuit that is still ongoing. After the 12-time Pro Bowler took his own life in May 2013, studies of his brain tissue determined he suffered from CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a degenerative brain disease that is linked to concussions and is found in many former players.

The elephant in the room thrust itself into the spotlight when over 4500 former players and their families filed a lawsuit against the league in an effort to obtain security and treatment for injuries they suffered during their playing days, something the league dodged for years. The initial measly settlement of $765 million was withheld in August 2013 and a final settlement of over $1 billion was reached earlier this year. There were a couple of hundred players and families who opted out of this suit and subsequent settlement who are pursuing individual suits against the league, the Seau family being one of them. While the Hall of Fame committee claims that speeches for players being inducted
post-humously are redundant and basically a waste of time, it seems that the NFL, who has a hand in putting this milestone event together is trying to tip-toe around yet another controversial topic that has sparked endless backlash.

Sydney Seau, daughter of the 1992 Defensive Player of the Year tells The New York Times, “It’s frustrating because the induction is for my father and for the other players, but then to not be able to speak, it’s painful. I just want to give the speech he would have given. It wasn’t going to be about this mess. My speech was solely about him.”   

The idea that the Seau family would use such an event as a platform to expose the league is blasphemous. Do you think the Hall of Fame conspiring with the NFL to shut the Seau family up is fair?

Survey says – Bring on the Gronks!

Image: ABC
Image: ABC

Rob, Dan, Chris, Gordie Jr. and Gordie Sr. took on the Peete family on tonight’s episode of Celebrity Family Feud. The Gronkowski family came to play for a chance for win $25,000 for their favorite charity, Rodman Rides for Kids, a charity that helps at-risk youth in Massachusetts. Of course, there is no Gronk appearance without any of his infamous dance moves, and Steve Harvey made sure to get that out of the way within the first few minutes of the show.

Image: ABC
Image: ABC

First ones up were Rob Gronkowski and Holly Robinson-Peete, who had to name name something that can be inflated or deflated. How appropriate.

Rob was quick to dodge this one, leaving former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete to dish out the controversial answer: football (touché). Shockingly, it wasn’t the highest answer, that went to tires (and rightfully so).

The Gronks went full steam ahead with the lead into the second round, where both families had to come up with the best answers to complete the phrase, “A guys is too drunk when he tries to pick up his …”. The best answer came from the youngest Gronk, Chris who finished the sentence with “sister”. Unfortunately for viewers, that is where the Gronks peaked, as they did not win that round or the next and were left out of the Fast Money round.

Win or lose, survey says the Gronks will shimmey this one off. Or twerk it off.

The Good, The Great, THE GRONK!


The winner of this year’s Comeback Player of the Year at the ESPYs almost didn’t make it on stage. Heck, at just 21 years old, he faced the possibility of having to turn away from the one thing that propelled him to super stardom and a Super Bowl ring: football.

During his junior year of college, Rob Gronkowski suffered from a ruptured disk in his spinal cord that sidelined him the entire season. He made the gutsy decision to forego his senior season to keep playing football on the professional level. After getting selected in the second round of the 2010 draft by the New England Patriots, the Gronk roared on to the scene, scoring 10 touchdowns for the season and bringing “The Gronk Spike” to fruition. By Week 13 of his sophomore season, he had surpassed his rookie season’s touchdown total AND broken the NFL record for touchdowns scored in a single season.

Then came the playoffs, which ended in heartbreak for more reasons than one.

Image: Chicago tribune
Image: Chicago tribune

Another Super Bowl loss to the Giants was gut-wrenching. But getting news that Gronk would have to  undergo surgery to repair strained ligaments in his ankle left fans disheveled. He fought back and had another successful season with 11 more touchdown receptions to boast about before breaking and re-breaking his forearm in 2012. Four forearm surgeries, another back surgery and a surgery to repair a torn ACL AND MCL later, the Gronk found himself overcoming adversity once again. This time, one of the twelve touchdown receptions he scored in the 2014 season came in the second quarter of an unforgettable Super Bowl XLIX victory.

Now, he’s everywhere. Daytime talk shows. Late night talk shows. Blockbuster movies. Commercials. Erotic novels. Center stage, at the ESPYs, receiving another accolade that further justifies the hard work and dedication he has put into his career. And probably another viral video filled with reckless and shameless dance moves.

Whether you like it or not, it’s Gronk’s world and we’re just living in it.

Generated by  IJG JPEG Library
Generated by IJG JPEG Library

New England Patriots: The Front Seven on the Forefront


As the duck boats rolled through a snowy Boylston Street in February, the sights of Gronk victoriously chugging beers and Brady’s adorable little son kissing the fourth Lombardi trophy for this franchise were all anyone could rant and rave about.

What a difference five months makes.

With a few of the most crucial pieces of this Super Bowl winning team gone, Bill Belichick must find a way to keep his team competitive for a shot at a fifth Lombardi trophy – particularly on the defensive side of the ball, for as the old adage goes, “Offense scores points, but defense wins championships.”

The obvious is clear. With their two star cornerbacks moving on to new teams, opponents are going to try to expose a weaker Patriots secondary. Say goodbye to that glorious lockdown secondary and welcome a new defensive identity – one who will have to rely on interior pressure to push the pocket, disrupt the quarterback and force more passes down the middle instead of the sidelines. Easy to envision for a rushing defense that ranked 9th in the league in 2014, but losing a stalwart in Vince Wilfork along with Jonathan Casillas and Akeem Ayers leave said defense with some holes to fill in order to maintain (and hopefully) improve that ranking.

The spotlight will turn to the unproven and injury-riddled. Enter stage right – Sealver Siliga, the 6 foot 2 inch 325 pound nose tackle who was sidelined with a foot injury last season and Dont’a Hightower, who is recovering from the shoulder surgery he underwent in February. Also stepping up will be Dominique Easley, the second year defensive tackle who is coming off of two torn ACLs and rookie Malcom Brown.

Reason to panic? Not quite.

Versatility is a key component that every player who wants to play for Bill Belichick must have. Thankfully, this defense is filled with guys who can rush the inside and outside or drop into coverage. Chandler Jones can line up as an outside linebacker or help on the defensive line. Jamie Collins excelled as a tackling machine and in coverage, ending last season with four sacks and two interceptions. Free agency brought in Jabaal Sheard from the Cleveland Browns, who is an effective run-stuffer and can cover the edges. The Patriots added another successful edge rusher who can drop into coverage in the third round of the draft by selecting Geneo Grissom.

It will take time to breed cohesion with all of these multi-faceted players, but Bill Belichick and his staff have a knack for maximizing the talent they bring out on the field every game.

Is it football season yet?

Can the Kings of the AFC East be dethroned?

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Looking over the eight divisions in the NFL, the AFC East division has had a great deal of success over the past 15 years. Don’t remind any Bills, Jets and Dolphins fans about this though, for all twelve division titles, six Conference Championships and four Super Bowls won over this time belong to just one team – the New England Patriots.

But the reigning Super Bowl champs have had an offseason that has casted some reasonable doubt for fans ahead of the upcoming season. With the anchor to their defense and their two starting cornerbacks gone and an impending ruling yet to be handed down by the Ginger Hammer (#exonerateBrady), the rest of the AFC East has made moves to improve their teams with some key acquisitions. Is that enough to sink the tight ship run by Bill Belichick and Co.? Let’s take a look at how the three other teams stack up against the Kings of the AFC East:

Jets – Aside from the big (*cough* robbery *cough*) free agency signing of Darrelle Revis, the Jets also brought back Antonio Cromartie to the secondary to beef up an already tough and talented defense who will have Sheldon Richardson back by the time they face the Patriots in their Week 7 showdown. To complement the defense, the Jets improved their receiving corps by acquiring Brandon Marshall in free agency and drafting Devin Smith in this year’s draft. The bad news? The Jets may be in a better position to expose a weaker Patriots secondary by forcing them to put more cornerbacks on the field against a stronger set of wide receivers. The good news? The Jets don’t have Rex Ryan. Or a QB that can lead them to a division title. And while the Jets will have Sheldon Richardson back, the Patriots will have Tom Brady ready to go too, so I’ll be placing my bets on the Brady Bunch.

Dolphins – Ndamukong Suh decided to bring his talents to South Beach and that is huge for a franchise whose fans have been left with a sour taste in their mouths from watching teams full of hope and promise disintegrate the past two seasons. Having Suh join Earl Mitchell in the interior while Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon rush the edges will be the cause of many headaches for offensive coordinators in the division and across the league. The Dolphins also did a pretty good job of getting quarterback Ryan Tannehill (a massive contract and) some new weapons by signing Greg Jennings and drafting DeVante Parker with the 14th pick of the draft to join a balanced run game for the offense. But are these improvements enough to overcome the major holes this team has at guard, linebacker and at the cornerback position? Or will Dolphins fans face another tumultuous season that will end in more heartbreak for their fans? Too soon to tell. One thing that is certain – Bill Belichick’s bread and butter is taking away what every team does best and making them beat his team without their strengths. If the offensive line for the Dolphins struggle to create openings for their running backs and keep Ryan Tannehill upright, their secondary won’t be able to save them from the Patriots’ elusive passing attack.

Bills – No other team in this division (or in the league for that matter) had quite the offseason the Bills had. No other team in this division will have the pleasure of potentially facing a Brady-less Patriots offense (*knocks on wood*) this season and that is quite the advantage to have on your side, especially with an elite defense led by Mario Williams, Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams. These three ended the season with double-digit sacks on a team that racked up 54 sacks in 2014. It only gets better for this team because guess who’s at the helm for this Bills this year? Rex Ryan, defensive mastermind. But, said defensive mastermind is no offensive mastermind, and he’s going from one quarterback debacle with Geno Smith and the Jets to another with E.J. Manuel and the Bills. His other options at quarterback (Matt Cassel, Tyrod Taylor and Jeff Tuel) don’t seem to represent the long term answer to lead a good running combo in Fred Jackson and LeSean McCoy and a good wide receiving corps that includes Sammy Watkins, who is coming off a stellar rookie season. It’ll be quite the chess match when these two teams meet up in Week 2 and in primetime on Week 11. Rex will focus on disguising his defense with intricate blitzing schemes to faze the Patriots quarterback while Bill will squash the running game and force the Bills quarterback to beat the defense with his arm. There is no doubt that the Bills have the biggest chance to dethrone the Patriots for the AFC East throne, but their biggest hole is at the most important position on the team. With that said, I will give Bill Belichick and Co. the benefit of the doubt and another division title for the 2015-16 NFL season.