Deflate-Gate: Roger Goodell Loses…Again
Robert Kraft says he was ecstatic by the announcement that Tom Brady won his court case against the NFL. The Patriots quarterback won his lawsuit, so he can play in games one through four of the Patriots’ season, without serving a suspension for Deflate-Gate.
The decision was rendered by U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman of New York. On the day Roger Goodell rejected Brady’s appeal of the 4-game suspension, he had NFL lawyers hurriedly file a preemptive lawsuit against the quarterback in federal court in New York City.
The strategy was to preempt Brady’s lawsuit, which was filed the next day in a Minnesota court which has been presiding over NFL cases for 25 years. The Minnesota judge is considered pro-player, after Goodell has gone 0-4 in Minnesota court cases. Thus, the New York court was considered a better option. Apparently not.
98.5 Sports Hub Interview
In a Boston-area radio broadcast on 98.5 The Sports Hub, Robert Kraft said he was happy the Brady was able to clear his name. When asked whether the Patriots organization would try to have their 1st round pick reinstated or appeal the $1 million fine the league levied against the franchise, Kraft said, “I would never say never to anything, but as we sit here today it’s not our intention, and we’re really excited to get going with this season.”
Like he has before, Robert Kraft argued for a change of procedures in the NFL’s suspension and appeals process. He said, “The process probably needs to be rethought for the good of the game.”
Kraft Critical of Goodell
The comments can be taken as a muted criticism of Roger Goodell, the embattled NFL commissioner. Goodell has had a bad calendar year. In August of 2014, he began to receive criticism for his 2-game suspension of Ray Rice for a domestic abuse scandal. Fans and critics pointed out he had suspended a player 8 games for marijuana use (though in Goodell’s defense, Josh Gordon was a repeat offender).
Weeks of criticism culminated in TMZ publishing a videotape inside the elevator at the Revel Casino where Ray Rice knocked his then-fiance, Janay Palmer, unconscious. The TMZ report whipped the flames of public dissent and many began to call for Roger Goddell’s job. At the time, Robert Kraft lobbied his fellow owners to retain Goodell. Reports in September 2014 indicated Kraft’s intervention had been pivotal.
Roger Goodell’s Awful 2014
Since then, Roger Goodell has bungled from one crisis to another. He held a press conference to reset the discussion on the Ray Rice case, but media reports said Goodell seemed wooden and rehearsed. If anything, the performance made matters worse.
Goodell’s contention was that Ray Rice and his fiance had lied to him about the seriousness of the brawl, though articles of the time (and the video of Rice’s action outside the elevator) contradicted Goodell’s account. Many in the media suggested he was an outright liar trying to hold on to his job.
He took a hard stand in the Greg Hardy case, but many questioned why he didn’t take a hard line in the case the summer before. It was implied the commissioner’s new no-tolerance policy was a reaction to the Ray Rice incident. Goodell took a similar stance in the Adrian Peterson child abuse scandal, where he received similar criticism. Ultimately, Goodell lost court battles and parts of Hardy’s and Peterson’s suspensions were overturned.
2014 was the worst season in NFL history for a commissioner. Despite that impression, Roger Goodell came out of the season as strong as ever–possibly stronger. He used his botching of the Ray Rice suspension to gather more power from the NFL owners. Also, key owners like Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft had shown public support for him. Then Deflate-Gate happened.
Enter: Deflated Footballs
Many fans see Deflate-Gate as the NFL punishing the New England Patriots for a long series of rules abuses. Others viewed Deflate-Gate as an attempt by the NFL Commissioner to reestablish his reputation by going after the game’s biggest star–and his biggest supporter among NFL owners. Whatever one’s opinion is, the showdown between Tom Brady and Roger Goodell has been a public relations nightmare for the NFL…in a year full of PR disasters.
The Smear Campaign
What is certain is this: one side attempted a smear campaign on the other. One side lied about the evidence, while the other side fought hard to hide and/or distort the truth. SportsClash believes Roger Goodell and the NFL smeared Tom Brady and the Patriots, but that is your decision to make.
The Facts Behind the Case
The reason for that conclusion is the original story released by Chris Mortensen, which suggested 11 of 12 balls used by the Patriots during the AFC Championship Game were deflated beyond the rules limit. In truth, 11 of 12 balls were legal, a fact which has been proven by further evidence. This fact has been underreported.
Also, when Roger Goodell announced he had upheld the ruling against Brady on June 28, the NFL announced Tom Brady had destroyed his cellphone to withhold evidence. Ted Wells himself, whom wrote the Wells Report which the NFL cites as its evidence, has said Tom Brady was told he would not have to hand over his cellphone.
Only after that fact was told to him did Brady destroy the phone. That is a common policy for celebrities, who otherwise are at risk of having their friends list and previous conversations made public. Again, the facts suggest a smear campaign on Brady was launched by Roger Goodell and his cronies.
Kraft Spoke to Tom Brady
Whether that is true or not, the New England Patriots believe it is so. Therefore, they celebrated when Judge Richard M. Berman’s decision was announced. Robert Kraft also used the announcement to praise his quarterback.
Kraft said he spoke with his 4-time Super Bowl winning quarterback on Thursday. When asked how the QB had handled the crisis, the Patriots owner said, “No matter how strong you are mentally, when you have that going on, it takes away, so I think there was some relief but mostly happiness.”
Tom Brady Looks Forward to Season Opening
The team’s longtime owner, who had sided with Brady against his former friend, Roger Goodell, said Brady was already looking forward to next Thursday’s season opener in Foxborough against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Kraft added, “He’s just really excited, and he’s excited that he’s going to be on the field Thursday night where he absolutely belongs.”
For his part, Tom Brady said he was sitting at his computer while chatting on the phone with a friend when the news was announced. Seeing the update on his screen, Brady said, “I yelled out an expletive and then told the people on the phone, ‘Goodbye,’ and we started from there.”
Apparently, Brady later celebrated by playing in the backyard with his kids. That sounds like a PR consultant’s suggestion, but it appears to have been a natural reaction (or a daily thing).
Brady’s wife, Gisele Bundchen, posted to her Instagram page with the quote, “and my hearts melts.”
Roger Goodell Won’t Be Attending
Speaking of the Thursday Night Football game which opens the NFL season, Roger Goodell announced he would not be attending the season opener, which pits the Pittsburgh Steelers against the New England Patriots.
It is a signal moment in NFL history. The league’s owners are now considering ways to strip Roger Goodell of a certain amount of his authority, whether for PR purposes, because he showed poor judgment, or because he abused his power. Meanwhile, Tom Brady will open the season of his Super Bowl title defense at home against a Steelers’ team missing one of its biggest weapons (Le’Veon Bell).
And while Brady is being feted by NBC’s broadcasters and cheered by Boston-area fans, Roger Goodell will be out of the spotlight, anywhere but the stadium in Foxborough. It’s probably too much to picture the commissioner sitting at home in sullen silence while the fanfare takes place, but it’s not hard to see Goodell as the Grinch Who Stole Christmas…or at least the NFL Season Opener. Whatever he does…for a publicity-hungry executive, avoiding the open of the season has to be a special kind of punishment.
Roger Goodell’s 2015 isn’t starting so well, either.