Remember back in 2014 the big hit Ray Rice put on his girlfriend in the elevator. When the video surfaced Goodell came under much pressure. In rode Kraft to his defense: “I know our commissioner has taken some heat, and I just want to say that I spoke with him yesterday . . . . The way he has handled this situation himself, coming out with the mea culpa in his statement a couple weeks ago, or ten days ago, and setting a very clear policy of how we conduct ourselves in the NFL, I thought was excellent. Anyone who is second guessing that doesn’t know him.”
Woah! That saved Goodell since Kraft is one of the NFL heavy hitters and with Kraft having his back then Goodell knew he would survive his fumbling the Rice matter. It follows from that it seems that Goodell owed Kraft big. Was there a way he could pay him back?
What was it that Kraft would want? Obviously Kraft would like to keep his team winning. Not just now or the near future, but also in the distant future. The former is secure with Tom Brady at the helm on the field. Sure Belichick is important but the winning teams are those with the great quarterbacks. Look at Belichick’s statistics: as a head coach without Brady he averaged 6.8 wins a season; with Brady he averaged 12.1 wins, almost double.
Kraft is no dummy. He knows that better than anyone that you need a good coach but beyond that you need a top-notch quarterback. He knows Brady is getting up there in age. Sure he is in great physical shape but he is 39-years-old this August. As I was once told by my brother when some guys in their early twenties were acting obnoxiously at a football team and I was going to stick my nose into it: “You don’t want to get into fights when you’re over forty – your mind may be willing but your flesh is weak. You can’t take a punch like those young guys.”
One good hit on Brady’s knee or even a Bledsoe-like hit; one sprint toward the sideline and a hamstring break; one more excellent pass being the straw that breaks that fabulous shoulder; or countless other things that a 40-year-old body cannot painlessly absorb and you can bring down the curtain. Kraft knows Brady might have another year or two but soon Time will have the upper hand. How could Goodell prepare Kraft to face that day?
One way was to help Kraft determine if the Sicilian Kid, Jimmy Garoppolo, has the tools to be the next Tom Brady. He’s supposedly 2” shorter but the same height as Joe Montana and Brett Favre; he is supposedly better looking; he has as fast a release as any NFL quarterback; and everything else seems to favor him. But can he play? Bob had to know. Roger wanted to help him.
The only way to find this out was to let him play. The only way to let him play was to keep Tom Brady out. All knew that would not be easy since Tom is a fierce competitor who wants to play every game. Bob (Kraft) and Bill (Belichick) knew they could not tell Tom to sit out a quarter, never mind a game, to give Jimmy a chance. Even if he did that would not give Bob and Bill a true look at him. He had to play a whole game, maybe two, three would be better, but four the best of all. How then to keep Tom out and get Jimmy in?
Voila! The phony deflategate four game suspension. I’ve written before that Brady might like the ball to be a little softer than official but that never affected his game one way or the other. Look at what he did last year or in all those other games. But it did serve the purpose – Brady fought it in the courts and lost – so he is oblivious the fix was in to give Jimmy the test. Bob screamed – Bill didn’t say much – but Bob caved in despite allegedly being on Tom’s side. He paid the million plus dollar fine and lost the draft pick but I’d have to guess to his way of thinking the expense was well worth it to find out whether he can rely on Jimmy or should he bring in someone else.
No one knows for sure what really happened. Much of it is surmise but we do know Jimmy is untested and he’ll have four games to prove himself. Tom, poor Tom, he has to stay totally away from the Patriots and must spend his time with Giselle and the kids. Maybe after doing that he might start thinking that is a lot more fun than football. If he understood he had the football field taken out from under him he very might have a trick or two himself to play. Time will tell.