The Great NFL/Patriot Cover-Up: Hold Your Nose

justice weepsHere’s the big problem with the underinflated ball matter. The NFL is happy to have it hanging around believing that it will increase the viewership of the Super Bowl which results in increased revenues down the line for it. In a week when the NFL news usually falls into the doldrums this matter has kept the talk of the Super Bowl match-up very much alive and the smiles on the NFL owners getting ever more wide.

The NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell having had bad happenings this year that reflect badly on his leadership thinks he is cleverly handling this situation. He knows that during his dark days he could count on the support of Bob Kraft an influential NFL owner and recognizes it is pay back time. He put out the standard press release about protecting the integrity of the NFL which also told us that we should not expect a quick answer. That suggests there is an ulterior motive in conducting the investigation because this is really a very simple matter.

Goodell told us he’s hired outside lawyers from a big New York law firm, which anyone who can regularly put his right shoe on his right foot knows is another way of saying don’t expect anything to come of this quickly. Lawyers bill by the hour and by the number of lawyers they can add to the hourly billings so just assembling the legal team should take a fortnight. It’s in the lawyers interest to delay and drag out the matter. If you think that things have changed in the law profession since the days of Jarndyce v Jarndyce then check your shoes.

Not only that, he’s hired some type of expert forensic people who will be examining the video and other visual evidence of the events that occurred. Lawyers, experts, all the king’s men,and who knows what else will mean another 95 page report like the one that cleared Goodell from any wrongdoing in the matter of the player Rice who coldcocked his lovely fiancé with a short left jab.  By the way the law firm doing the investigation on the Rice matter does a lot of NFL business so the outcome was hardly surprising.

Goodell has kicked this can of worms down the road. The consequences of doing it which he seems not to get is that it will leave a sour taste in the mouth of almost every viewer when the Patriots win the Super Bowl. Having Brady and Belichick lifting up the Super Bowl trophy will be a tawdry spectacle. There will be little need for a specter like King Hamlet to suddenly appear to remind us that they accomplished this goal by cheating. All except Patriot diehards will see it as being tainted. Forever there will be an asterisk after the win. The integrity of the NFL forever damaged.

That is unless the situation is brought to a head prior to the playing of the game. And it should be. You don’t need lawyers or other experts to figure it out. Either the referees are lying or the ball boys are lying. They are the only ones who matter. If the refs checked each ball with a pressure gauge then whoever received them from the refs, and I assume it is the ball boys even though they may be girls, tinkered with them by letting the air out. Find out who did it and then ask why.

By the way isn’t this something Bob Kraft the man who is so concerned about the integrity of the game should have figured out when the issue first reared its ugly head. Doesn’t he understand the significance of this to his team’s reputation? If I were the owner of a business in this difficulty I wouldn’t be waiting for someone else to act, I’d have figured it out lickety split and acted boldly.

At a minimum we should know if the refs are in the clear and what the ball boys have said about it at this point. We don’t need any of the FBI “under investigation” bull because there’s not going to be a criminal trial that follows. Someone deserves blame and censure because what happened did not happen inadvertently.

The NFL must come out now with the information. Other than that we are being scammed. We’re left to believe the NFL thinks the American people can easily be conned by its pontificating and hired lawyers. There is no way the solution to the puzzle is not known right now. Let us know so when the Patriots win we can know the win was on the level.



22 thoughts on “The Great NFL/Patriot Cover-Up: Hold Your Nose

  1. Please blog about the new info that came out in the Hernandez trial! Still no murder weapon, more evidence that places him at the scene, still can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt he was the trigger man IMO.

    1. Hi Dave, I’m sure Matt will blog anew on Hernandez, which will put an end to deflategate. Sigh.

  2. This just in. The NY Times says a law firm hired by the NFL has asked the Columbia University physics department to do some deep thinking about deflategate. The Times must see this as an encouraging development, since the newspaper regards Belichick’s recent Mr. Wizard explanation as “vague and scientifically confounding.”

    On another front, Robert Kraft’s defiant words suggest to me that the ball boy described as a “person of interest” in news reports has told investigators he went to that infamous bathroom to take a leak. Since this is the simplest explanation for his actions, I’m buying it. Nevertheless, the NY Daily News sent a reporter into one of its own bathrooms. The scribe claims he was able to deflate a dozen balls in about a minute and that the entire bathroom operation took 77 seconds.

    It doesn’t get much nuttier than this, does it? I’m loving every minute of it. To those who say it’s much ado about nothing, I say: Have fun discussing Marshawn Lynch’s hat.

    1. Dan:

      Agreed it is really absurd at this point. It will be interesting to see how it plays out not tomorrow in the game but when the big investigation is over. The big thing is Bob Kraft is as much of a power in the NFL as Goodell and they’ll decide at a sit down outside of the public view how the ending will come about. Especially, if as I expect the Patriots win since to do otherwise would tarnish the win which Kraft would not let happen. It is likely that the law firm which wants to keep the NFL business will be directed by Goodell/Kraft to come up with one of those pleas that the big money guys can get which is neither to admit or deny the facts. The firm will say it can neither prove the Patriots deflated the ball nor can it say the Patriots didn’t deflate the ball. That’ll end it with smiles all around.

      1. A happy ending! Can’t wait. One factor in Pats favor: The foundation for this whole discussion is the ESPN report that 11 of 12 balls fell by exactly 2 psi per ball. But Goodell spoke of “some” balls, and it seems clear things aren’t going to be so cut and dried. I think folks are talking about this partly because it’s just more interesting than the endless, mindless repetition of clichés (“defense is the key to victory”, “It comes down to which team wants it more”) that always precede such games.

    1. Jim:

      Not really. Haven’t been paying much attention to the matter since it seems to me no matter what the legal arguments are nothing is going to change the result.

    1. Sky:

      I agree with you and believe that will be the final outcome – neither proven nor unproven. Not enough evidence to go one way or the other.

  3. Homers at baseball paper? Puhlease!
    That statement alone shows that your understanding of the local sports reporting scene is zero point zero. The Blutarsky.

    RE the Father Flanagan phase that You mention..who exactly said anything about that…is it a creation of your own mind? As far as i can tell, the man has never claimed to be anything other than the HC of the NEP.

    1. Hi Declan,
      Keep your shorts on! It’s apparently easy to lose sight of the fact that the NFL is part of the entertainment industry. I think it’s fun, and even relaxing, to chat about such trivial stuff. Is Belichick a brilliant sleeze or a latter day Abe Lincoln? You make the call. Perhaps you should seek out a blog on foreign affairs or cancer research?

    1. I see the homers at the Globe produced four Boston-area scientists to say that Belichick’s explanation was not beyond the realm of scientific possibility. Well, there are a lot of things that don’t exceed the realm of scientific possibility. For example, the Earth may be destroyed some day in a collision with a giant meteor. Sigh. The simplest explanation — that the Pats let air out of the balls — remains the frontrunner for me.

  4. Hey Matty Matt 🙂 …. I like that nickname for you, as you were the Marky Mark of your day ‘twould appear. Mr. Hugh Bris will lead the Pats to victory in Az I don’t doubt ; this little contretemps a perfect foil for him to motivate The Team with. Write the F- On there Matty Matt 🙂

  5. Nothings explains Raven’s lighting the fire. Also since the NFL was put “on notice” you would have thought that the other games going that day like Packers, that close attention would have been made for their balls too. Also tighter control would have been made to insure for the integrity of the game that the balls were in NFL control the whole time. Other than that, this is a scam, for which I don’t believe the Patriot’s had anything to do with it. I remind you again that less than 24 hours I was traveling past the stadium and my tire light did go on and did not shut off till I hit the cape and further it hasn’t been on since. Enough said until the NFL explains how they knew, who told them, and what did they do with that information to prevent any tampering.

  6. Hi Jeff,
    “Masterful” isn’t a word that leaped to mind when I watched Belichick. “Incoherent” was one of the kinder thoughts in my mind. I think three arguments are mashed up here. “Molehill,” “Everybody does it” and “the New England Patriots are a persecuted minority.”

    On “molehill,” forgive me for repeating what I’ve already said : NFL teams are under intense scrutiny from the media, their fans and, especially, each other. If you are looking to get an unfair advantage, even a small one, you are going to have to do it on the sly. It’s got to be something that won’t attract attention. So Belichick can’t arm his offensive linemen with baseball bats to beat back defenders. He’d be “caught.” But underinflate the footballs to give Brady a better grip? That’s another kettle of fish.

    “Everybody does it.” I don’t buy it. As we know, the Indianapolis Colts don’t do it, because the game balls they used were inspected as well. I see this as effort to minimize guilt by spreading it around. Cold-weather teams like the Bills, Bears and Packers have not fallen under suspicion, and in the absence of any evidence, other NFL teams earn the benefit of the doubt.

    And sorry, I don’t see Belichick and the Patriots as a persecuted minority. The coach is often hailed as a football genius. And the team’s record over the years is much admired. There was even a “Boys Town” phase in which Belichick (Father Flanagan) turned wayward NFL players into model citizens. Aaron Fernandez brought that era to a close. My point is that all the screaming of the New York tabs doesn’t come close to matching the praise that’s been heaped on the team over the years.

    Look on the bright side. The Patriots may emerge from this with the same image as old Raiders: a team that’s good AND evil. With a tip of the cap to Matt, this is a ratings bonanza! The next Super Bowl, is going to shatter all viewing records

  7. What a rush to judgement! Conspiracies on every side!

    One reads “follow the money” to the NFL’s treasury and the other asserts “where there’s smoke there’s fire”, a pretty shaky legal basis for conviction, even to non-lawyer me.

    I thought that BB’s “spontaneous” press conference yesterday was masterful. He seemed genuinely angry at the aspersions (again) cast at his team and his arguments seemed solid, especially when no one in authority has actually debunked any of it. He probably regained any lost trust among the faithful, but those inclined to see deceit behind every move the Patriot’s make are far beyond convincing.

    But let’s look at the BB transgressions a different way.

    +++ Spygate: The Pats had a man ON THE FIELD videotape the opposing coach’s hand signals. 65,000 fans at the stadium could see the same hand signals and, if they wished, legally record them, because it is only a violation in the NFL if you are ON THE FIELD when you do it. After this, all the other teams quietly made sure their taping was from the stands.

    +++ Deflategate: Several NFL players have agreed that deflating the balls yields no big advantage. Several QBs have admitted to gaming the ball pressure on their own teams. The Pats have now advanced a plausible theory as to why this “deflation” could have innocently occurred.

    But this is still the biggest deal in the world because it is Beli-cheat and the Pats. Check the NY tabloid coverage to see rabid, fanatic hatred in action. But would anyone waste ink on this if it had been the Jets? Or the Bills? I doubt you would see such an outcry.

    In a new twist that should appeal to conspiratorial Pats fans, Ben Volin writes in the Globe (where I understand you may not have seen it) that Jim Harbaugh of the appropriately named Ravens got his former coach Pagano, current Colts head man, to cast this mud as payback to BB for making him look stupid with those “ineligible/eligible” line stunts he used so effectively against Baltimore in the second round.

    It can be read here: Ravens Coach Pleading Forgiveness?

    In short, I see this as a ginned up tempest in a teapot that only survives because of the widespread hatred (jealousy) of BB and the Pats. A procedural violation at best, piling on to an actually innocent BB at worst.

  8. You are right. The ten to fifteen minutes prior to kickoff that the Pats had sole possession of the balls is the critical time frame. The air was let out during that period. Was it spontaneous combustion? Cold fusion? or the tooth fairy? Not likely. Exclusive control and dominion over the balls by the Pats makes them responsible for what happened. You don’t have to identify a particular individual to assign blame. The organization is culpable. One can draw inferences. Look at prior conduct and patterns of behavior e. g. spygate and the Hernandez matter. System wide violations of ethical standards should have consequences. The NFL looks more and more like pro wrestling. 2. Bellichik and Brady seem to be following in Charles Van Doren’s footsteps. Their press conferences were on a par with Clinton ‘s denials of the Lewinsky affair and Kim Philby’s presser denying he was a Soviet spy. Convincing to some but totally false. The Ravens should be in the game not the Pats. Remember what our worst governor use to say . The fish rots from the head down.

  9. Oh, Mathew!

    How many times have people here begged you to stick to writing about something you are familiar with? You should at least scan the news before you post these silly little missives. I love the blog and it pains me to watch you appear so ill informed and or/obtuse time after time when writing about the NFL, specifically the Patriots. Is it too late to take this down??

    1. I disagree with Matt, but I don’t see why he can’t talk about it, since everyone else is! The Pats were the top story on the NBC Evening News last night, and deflategate was satirized on Saturday Night Live. Last night I overheard the bartender and a group of people talking deflategate at Smoke, a jazz place in Manhattan. I mention this because I had never before heard anybody talking about sports in the place before. So the story has crossover appeal.

      So Belichick decided to give the story another spin on the news cycle by holding an impromptu news conference. A couple of notable things were going on here. In part, the coach was trying to make up for his dreadful performance on Thursday. He is supposed to defend the team and the organization. But that didn’t happen. Instead, he refused to take any responsibility for what happened. He also declared himself innocent and pointed a finger at Brady. Since then, former NFL quarterbacks like Troy Aikman and Phil Simms have been calling Brady a liar.

      I assume somebody like Robert Kraft subsequently told Belichick to do his job. So he came out on Saturday defending the whole organization: Everybody — not just him — was innocent, the coach declared. What can I say about his loopy scientific explanation? He might as well have invoked the supernatural, say Satan, to deflate the balls. (The Prince of Darkness apparently had a conflicting engagement when it came time to mess with the Colts’ balls.)

      I like the simplest explanation: Somebody let the air out of the balls. That would be the equipment manager acting on Brady’s instructions. Did Belichick know? I sure think so. Imagine an important playoff game coming up at Gillette. The weather forecast calls for temperatures in the teens (or heavy rain). Would Belichick and Brady devote some discussion to the condition of the game balls under these circumstances.? Hell ya …

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