I don’t want to do Deflategate. Certainly not a year later. But here we are, in New England at least, forced to dive into it once again.
And unfortunately, this won’t be the last time. Not as long as the man who’s solely responsible for keeping it alive, keeps it alive. That man goes by the name of Roger Goodell. Let me tell you a little bit about him.
Goodell is the commissioner of the National Football League. And he loves — I mean, loves — to protect and enforce the integrity of the game. Which is why he took away the Patriots’ first-round pick for 2016, hit them with the largest team fine in NFL history, and attempted to suspend Tom Brady four games. He wanted to make sure everybody was playing by the rules. The idea of an NFL quarterback being involved in a scheme to deflate footballs lower than the league minimum PSI level of 12.5 would simply not be tolerated.
It should also be noted that Goodell cares not about science, facts, or as we recently learned during his appearance on “The Rich Eisen Show” Tuesday, the ability to combine science and facts in order to find evidence that would tell him whether to keep Deflategate alive or not.
Goodell told Eisen that the NFL did “spot checks” of in-game footballs during this past season “to prevent and make sure the clubs understand that we’re watching these issues.”
He continued, “It wasn’t a research study. They simply were spot checks.”
Goodell went on to also say that, as a result of those spot checks, there were “no violations this year.”
Even if you have some PSI numbers stuffed in your back pocket, once you publicly admit that it wasn’t a “research study,” you’re already knocking your own research. And it begs the question, why wouldn’t you want to go all-in on something you’re still fighting, something you’re single-handedly keeping alive?
The NFL has filed an appeal of Judge Richard Berman’s decision to overturn the league’s original four-game suspension of Brady. It will be heard in a New York federal appeals court on March 3.
Goodell, as commissioner of a league that's filed this appeal and is still fighting to suspend Brady, had a perfect opportunity to run an extensive research study that would clarify some scientific theories and confirm his attempted protection of the league's integrity. Document every ball, for every team, every game, pregame, halftime, and postgame. You know, do some real work to obtain some real evidence, before you keep trying to suspend one of the greatest players in NFL history.
This type of research seemed like a no-brainer. Then, on Tuesday, Goodell said they simply used spot checks to “make sure the clubs understand” that he’s keeping an eye on this issue. Because, you know, the integrity of the game is important to him. Or at least, that's what he wants you to think.
So important that he’s keeping Deflategate alive, over a year later, with no direct evidence that links Brady to the deflation of footballs before last year’s AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts. That’s not even my opinion. NFL attorney Daniel Nash admitted such over the summer to Judge Berman.
“Is there a text in which Mr. Brady instructs someone to put a needle in a football? No, there is not such direct evidence,” said Nash.
Nash admitted that they did not have the “smoking gun.” But the NFL certainly had the opportunity this season to at least figure out the damage caused by the bullet.
Instead, the league half-heartedly continued to pound its chest, rolling up randomly to different stadiums with a PSI gauge, not even to document numbers, but just to show teams that it cares about enforcing the rules.
That strategy would have been acceptable, had Goodell never turned Deflategate into a thing. But yet, here we are over a year later, and nobody really knows why.
Not even the man who’s solely responsible for keeping it alive.