Roger Goodell says there’s no deal. Tom Brady is on his own. The reigning Super Bowl MVP will have to appeal his four-game suspension through the league’s normal protocol. The Patriots can’t help him. The league won’t give him preferential treatment.
At least, that’s what they’re going to tell us, following the latest turn of events in the dumbest professional sports saga anyone’s ever witnessed.
On Tuesday — the first day of the NFL Owners’ Meetings — Patriots owner Robert Kraft held a press conference to announce that he would accept the league’s punishment as a result of the Wells Report findings. That didn’t go over well in New England. In most people’s eyes, it seems, Kraft was giving up, at a time in which Patriots fans were ready to fight to the death.
“He chose the NFL and money over his own team and fan base,” they say.
However, perception is not always reality. And regardless of what Goodell and Kraft say, it’s no coincidence that “back-channel conversations” between the NFL and Patriots were reported just a day before Kraft “accepted” his punishment. And it’s also no coincidence that just days before that report, Goodell and Kraft were seen having a long conversation and exchanging pleasantries at a weekend birthday party.
I don’t know about you, but in my world, “back-channel conversations” lead to “back-door deals.” And in this case, whatever deal that was made between Goodell and Kraft — and I believe there was one — has to involve Brady. Even if Goodell tells us otherwise, which he did in his press conference at the Owners’ Meetings on Wednesday.
“The decision that Robert made was his decision,” said Goodell. “This was his initiative and something he wanted to do.”
Kraft’s options were limited. Sure, he could have essentially sued the other 31 owners, but that would have been a terrible decision for both Kraft and the NFL. Because let’s face it, both sides need this story to go away. A lawsuit from Kraft would only prolong this foolish story. Kraft knows that, and so does Goodell.
Plus, no appeals or lawsuits guarantee you the results you’re looking for. And sometimes, the threat of either is made for the sole purpose of creating a “back-channel” discussion, a la, “Let’s make a deal.”
That deal, I’m convinced, will guarantee that Brady gets justice. And when it comes to “defending the wall,” isn’t his suspension what this is all about?
Now, Brady’s appeal will play itself out. His suspension will be reduced, if not completely revoked. And they’ll never tell you there was a deal, because part of that deal would be that nobody finds out there was a deal.
We’re past the point of swaying public opinion. You either like Brady or you don’t. Nothing will change that when it comes to Deflategate. And the sooner he plays, the better, for everyone involved.
So when Goodell and Kraft say there’s no deal, know that I don’t believe them.
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