Deflategate: Act Three
I thought it was over. I thought we were in the clear, but it's back.
Out of the glorious ashes of my dreams has risen the horrid, ridiculous and all-encompassing entity that just refused to die. It is my worst enemy. It is my worst nightmare. It's Deflategate.
We were all teased back in September into thinking it had finally taken its last breaths as a judge overturned Tom Brady's four-game suspension. We thought it was all but a footnote in the thick book of sports' most ridiculous scandals.
Thanks to the massive ego of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, we were all wrong.
Rather than swallowing his pride and accepting defeat, Goodell revolted. It didn't matter how petty and downright stupid this fight was, he was going to carry it out until he got his way.
He refused to acknowledge the truth--that truth being that he was wrong. He and the NFL just had to come out on top.
So, almost a whole year after a judge saw through Goodell's baseless four-game suspension and awarded Brady vindication, we're back to square one. Last week, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the future Hall of Famer's original suspension.
So, instead of talking about the crazy offseason moves we've seen among teams, or the draft, we're back to talking about Deflategate.
I said it once, twice, three times, 10 times: it is the dumbest scandal in the history of sports. It's a prime example of the phrase "making a mountain out of a molehill."
It's like driving 60 in a 55 zone. Is it technically speeding? Yes. Is it a big deal? No. Ninety-nine percent of cops won't even entertain the thought of pulling you over.
Deflated footballs only enhance your grip on the ball. That's it. It surely wasn't the reason the Patriots obliterated the Colts, 45-7, in the AFC Championship Game.
Most importantly, New England didn't have the magical deflated balls when they beat the Seahawks in the Super Bowl.
There is no taint. The Patriots are still champions. Brady is still arguably the greatest quarterback of all time.
Apparently, the Patriots bended the rules a little. Goodell should have handed out some fines, and that should have been the end of it.
That wasn't enough for the heavy-handed commissioner. He buckled under the pressure of all the Patriot haters across the league that whined to no end about New England's bending of the rules.
He fined the Patriots $1 million and took away two draft picks, while hitting Brady with a four-game suspension.
To make things worse, the NFL hired investigator Ted Wells to look into the Patriots’ alleged transgressions. After a three-month investigation, he was only able to conclude that New England most likely knew about the balls being deflated.
Even with that little to go on, Goodell still brought down the hammer. However, as it goes in the court of law, a judge wasn't impressed with the NFL's lack of evidence. He threw out Brady's suspension.
It should have ended there. Goodell should have just taken his medicine. No, he and the NFL made it personal.
At that point, people started to finally come around and see how venial the Patriots' sins were. The strong emotions were finally subsiding. Even the haters were ready to move on, but Goodell and the NFL weren't.
Now, Brady is back to being suspended for such a weak infraction on the merits of evidence as flimsy as a bundle of twigs.
Drew Brees said a mouthful last week. He said, “I think we would all agree that [Goodell] definitely has too much power. He is judge, jury and executioner when it comes to all the discipline. I’m not going to trust any league-led investigation when it comes to anything. It’s not transparent.”
Brees is right. There are no checks and balances. There is only Goodell. And in cases like Deflategate, the personal interests of Goodell often reign supreme. That's not good for the fans, it's not good for the players and it's certainly not good for the league.