The NFL continues to hound Brady

You know in the movies where there is a relationship that fails but one of the people involved continues to cling on, in hopes that maybe they could salvage something. It’s usually the guy and he usually has no way of fixing things or proving that he can make it work. Right now the NFL is that guy.

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Brady led the Patriots the AFC Championship last season.

CNBC just tweeted that the U.S. Appeals Court reinstated Tom Brady’s 4-game suspension in relation to his involvement in Deflategate. You remember Deflategate, the only thing ESPN could talk about last summer where the New England Patriots were accused of cheating en route to a Super Bowl victory.

Just when we all thought it was finally coming to a close with the NFL Draft coming up. It would definitely be talked about as the Patriots forfeited their first round pick in the upcoming draft due to the allegations of Deflategate. After that, it seemed like we could all put it behind us. Clearly, that isn’t happening.

I have a feeling that the Patriots are not going to stand for this decision, and rightfully so. Because this, according to ESPN, was the ruling from the U.S. 2nd Circuit Appeals Court.

“We hold that the Commissioner properly exercised his broad discretion under the collective bargaining agreement and that his procedural rulings were properly grounded in that agreement and did not deprive Brady of fundamental fairness.”

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Goodell has maintained throughout the process that Brady deserved his suspension.

Well there you go. This all traces back to the one man that is single-handedly ruining the NFL. Roger Goodell once again wields his unchecked and disproportionate power.

What this means is not that Brady was guilty or that the NFL found some new evidence. It just means that Goodell has the power to do this. And that is a problem.

I’ve been saying for years that Roger Goodell needs to be replaced atop the NFL’s hierarchy. (I’ve also been saying the league needs to change its player discipline process since July). He is unreasonable and has let his power go to his head. However, this also shines a light on an organizational issue for the NFL.

The fact is, the court is right. Goodell has the power to make these kinds of sweeping, grandiose decisions. That needs to change. There has been talk for some time about the league taking the power of player punishment out of the commissioner’s hands and delegating it to a third party. That way, the league could avoid situations like this and the commissioner could focus more on the future endeavors of the league, rather than how much he can fine James Harrison in a given season.

So yes, Goodell still needs to go. If you need examples, see Rice, Ray or Hardy, Greg. Either one will demonstrate why Goodell is not fit to be running the league. But this is also an institutional problem, where the NFL has given one man entirely too much power. It is similar to FIFA with Sepp Blatter in the way that the NFL as an institution is thought of as solely Goodell. (For a fun article about those two clowns, click here).

As for Brady’s situation, did he cooperate as needed? Probably not. Does the NFL have the evidence necessary to suspend him for four games? Definitely not. At most, Brady should receive a fine for disorderly conduct. And then that should be the end of it. There is no reason that Jimmy Garappolo should be playing the first quarter of the season for New England.

Unfortunately, it seems like this nightmare just restarted. Only time will tell if this new ruling holds up. Maybe some good will come out of this. Maybe the league will finally realize the flaws in how it lets Goodell govern and begin limit his power. Fingers crossed on that one.

Why the NFL had no choice with Brady

The NFL is a joke these days. The fact that you can sit there and think to yourself, well what are you referring to here is some indication of how much so. It could be the laughable attempts to improve player safety, the failure to address domestic violence or the continued drug related suspensions. In this case, I’m actually referring to none of those though and I’m focusing on the NFL time and time again reducing or repealing player suspensions.

It has been a long six months for Tom Brady. Usually, the Super Bowl champion would get at least a little time to relax and savor his victory. Instead, he has spent his offseason in the midst of a private investigation regarding the deflation of footballs in the AFC Title Game against the Colts. Brady was subjected to questioning first by the league then later by independent investigators under Ted Wells. The whole story was poked and prodded as much as possible and the media (yes myself included) had a field day with it. It was a supposed stain on the legacy of Brady and the Pats Super Bowl win.

Tom_BradyYet as time has gone on, no real hard evidence has surfaced. The Wells report indicates that Brady “more likely than not” was aware of the situation. Brady once again refuted the claims but the league imposed a four-game ban on the New England quarterback for the start of next season.

That didn’t settle anything though as the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) and Brady went on to appeal the suspension. That to weeks of trials and further investigations into the situation. What surfaced most recently definitely puts Brady in some hot water. It turns out he had destroyed his cell phone and sim card while the NFL was trying to acquire them as evidence. He claims it was a normal procedure for him as he was replacing his old phone. I can bet Brady wouldn’t want his own personal information, messages or photos falling into the wrong hands and winding up online. It makes sense to destroy. Unfortunately, he just picked a really bad time to do it.

The phone destruction doesn’t necessarily prove anything but it certainly makes Brady look guilty and that was enough for the NFL to vote to uphold the suspension. Brady and the NFLPA are now appealing that decision because apparently you can appeal everything in the NFL. Maybe Brady has a point that the NFL doesn’t have enough hard evidence but that’s not why they are making an example of him.

As I have made clear the NFL is a joke with reducing and repealing suspensions. So it should come as no surprise that the league feels it is pressured to uphold Brady’s suspension to save face. The NFL can attempt to be as harsh as it wants but it has previously set precedents that the NFLPA will often use as a way to negotiate down a suspension. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the length of some of them either (see Ray Rice, domestic violence). In short, the NFL has looked weak and it seems like the NFLPA has just been pushing them around.

Tom BradyThe league has no desire to look weak obviously. Already this summer Greg Hardy and LeVeon Bell had suspensions reduced after appealing the decision. The league needed to make a stand and show that it is capable of dishing out a suspension then upholding it. The NFL gave itself no choice but to uphold the suspension. Brady just seems to be caught in the crossfire. Now I can’t tell you if Tom Brady is innocent or not. That much has not been clear. What is clear is the overall lack of cohesion between the NFL and the NFLPA and the amount of leeway Commissioner Roger Goodell has with suspensions.

The NFL was in many ways forced to implement a system that established standard sentences regarding domestic violence punishments. The league also has a system in place for violations of the substance abuse policy. However, outside of those two categories, there is a lot left open for interpretation. That is where Goodell simply seem to slap an arbitrary number of weeks on the table and say it is final. The league needs to find a way to avoid that at all costs. That sort of uncertainty surrounding the suspension allows it to be appealed. Brady’s situation is unique but that does not mean that Goodell should choose what he feels is warranted. It is more than clear that Goodell’s judgement is questionable at best.

The easiest thing for the league to do is arrange an outside board that collaborates with the NFLPA to assign suspensions that fall outside the realm of domestic violence or substance abuse. That was not everything is being appealed before it even hits the table and Goodell is removed from the equation.

As for Brady, there is only one way that the league will relent on his four-game suspension, if he admits that he was involved or had knowledge of the situation. Even then, it would only cut his suspension in half. I don’t see Brady going this far only to back off and say he knew. Whether he did or not. I think Brady is just going to have to bite the bullet and sit out the four games. No one seems capable of coming to his rescue. Not even the NFLPA. The NFL is determined to make up for past weaknesses.  It is at war. And it seems determined to win.