Throughout DeflateGate , NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and his tin-star investigators have mischaracterized facts, or flat-out omitted them in order to make New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady look guilty. But it’s one thing for the NFL to perpetuate falsehoods in its own bubble world, and quite another to do it in an actual court of law. That’s what happened before the Second Circuit appeals panel last week when NFL attorney Paul Clement improperly repeated untruths, and it should serve as evidence to those judges that the Brady arbitration is dishonest and should be tossed.
Up to this point, DeflateGate has been all about the NFL’s accusation that Tom Brady cheated. But a three-judge federal appeals court is considering a more important question contained in the finer legal points: whether NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is the actual cheater here. There is a wealth of evidence that suggests so, and the court should make the league rue bringing this case in front of it.
On Thursday, the second-highest court in the land was to hear oral arguments on whether it should affirm or reverse, on narrow procedural grounds, District Judge Richard Berman’s decision to throw out Goodell’s four-game suspension of Brady. But a little-noticed and powerfully written third-party brief by renowned legal scholar Robert Blecker lays out a third option for the court to consider. Blecker argues that the court should find Goodell’s arbitration process was “infected with bias, evident partiality, unfairness and fraud,” and he doesn’t stop there.
“The NFL’s entire legal argument in the court of Judge Richard M. Berman over the past few weeks is that this commissioner’s powers are so unlimited that even a federal judge must bow to him. NFL attorney Dan Nash said on Goodell’s behalf during a hearing this past week, ‘The findings of the commissioner are entitled to deference.’ Well, that’s rich. It was Goodell and the NFL who brought this idiotic case into Berman’s courtroom in the first place. And now they’re telling Berman he has no right to rule in it.”
“About that exploding cellphone. You know, the one NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell seems to think belonged to Machine Gun Kelly and was used in the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, as well as the Krupp diamond theft. The one that Ted Wells said he didn’t want or need to complete his investigation into DeflateGate. The one the NFL’s own investigator said wasn’t necessary to the case.
Wells never asked for Tom Brady’s cellphone and didn’t require it. ‘Keep the phone,’ Wells told Brady and his agent. He insisted his investigation was thorough without it. ‘I don’t think it undermines in any way the conclusions of the report,’ he said. Those were his exact words. So were these, after interrogating Brady for more than five hours: “Totally cooperative,” Wells said of Brady’s testimony.”
“Roger Goodell can restore a sense of loftiness to the NFL commissioner’s office with a simple expedited decision. He should lift the suspension on Tom Brady this week and turn his disciplinary eye on the vague, sloppily enforced league rules that caused DeflateGate in the first place. This is his best way out of this infernal case, which is as damaging to Goodell and the league office as it is to Brady and the New England Patriots.”
“Tom Brady is said to be seeking total exoneration, and it appears he’s entitled to it. The idea that Brady and the New England Patriots intentionally deflated footballs for a competitive advantage has been discredited by everyone from sidewalk chemists to Web physicists to unlicensed ceramicists, not to mention your own common sense. But most importantly, it is utterly shredded in a new scientific analysis by the American Enterprise Institute, which shows the only inflation problem is in NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s head.”
“NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell predetermined guilt in DeflateGate; that’s clear now. He has smeared Tom Brady and the New England Patriots without proper evidence or a competent investigation and turned an unimportant misdemeanor into a damaging scandal as part of a personal power play to shore up his flagging authority. In other cases, he just looked inept. In this one, he looks devious.”
“The evidence is thoroughly equivocal and the competitive advantage is nowhere to be found, yet the NFL is punishing Tom Brady and the New England Patriots as if they belong in Sing Sing. This case, perhaps more than all the others in the past year, sums up the NFL approach to justice: If you crack down hard enough on the little things, no one will notice the real scoundreling.
The NFL chose the wrong case to throw a book at, but then, the league is always far more worried about appearances than reality.”
“It’s the scandal touched off by a pffffffffft. A whisper of escaping air that begs the question, what is the real substance of DeflateGate, anyway? Let’s stop right there and admit something about this whole matter: No one at the Super Bowl can say whether it’s even important. Which may be why the NFL is having such a hard time investigating the thing. League officials are trying to figure out what they need to get to the bottom of it, a gauge or a French theoretician?
Either the New England Patriots are a dynasty or the rest of the NFL are their longtime dupes, depending on your view of DeflateGate and how much you suspect Tom Brady and Bill Belichick for their cool, blithe, fast-tracked lives. There are a lot of subtle thermodynamic principles involved in the question of whether someone altered game balls to give Brady a better chance of reaching his sixth Super Bowl.”