May 11, 2015

NFL Announces Punishment for Patriots' Deflated Balls: The NFL has issued its punishment for the DeflateGate scandal: Quarterback Tom Brady is suspended four four games, the New England Patriots are fined $1 million and will lose two draft picks (a 2016 first rounder and 2017 fourth rounder). Last year's second-round pick Jimmy Garoppolo is expected get the starting nod against the Pittsburgh Steelers when the season gets underway September 10.

posted by rcade to football at 05:42 PM - 108 comments

I anticipated a $500,000 fine and two second-round picks. This is quite a punishment. Brady should have passed along texts and messages within the narrow scope of the NFL's request or claimed there were no such texts and messages. His non-compliance was a mistake.

I wonder if this penalty will close the window on the Patriots' great run under Belichick and Brady. Brady is 37. This suspension could help keep the Pats out of home-field advantage next season.

posted by rcade at 05:53 PM on May 11

This... is bullshit. I wouldn't think there would be any punishment at all so to see a quarter of a season for Brady and 1st and 4th for the organization... I don't even believe it.

posted by tron7 at 06:14 PM on May 11

Brady is 37. This suspension could help keep the Pats out of home-field advantage next season.

Odds are, Brady would welcome the additional rest at that age. And Belichick can weather four games of Brady-less ball against a fairly easy schedule (Steelers, @Bills, Jags, @Cowboys) and the Patriots will still contend.

Plus, they get to keep their rings and the lost draft picks won't faze them much.

The NFL has meted out the punishments to silence the haters. Goodell reasserts his judge, jury and executioner persona. Everybody goes home happy today.

posted by NerfballPro at 06:14 PM on May 11

And Belichick can weather four games of Brady-less ball against a fairly easy schedule (Steelers, @Bills, Jags, @Cowboys) and the Patriots will still contend.

I could see them going 1-3 or 0-4 if the backup stinks. As for the draft picks not fazing them, losing a first rounder is huge.

posted by rcade at 07:04 PM on May 11

Well, not quite everyone. I think the hanging judge approach was spectacularly wrong-headed. In the first, it takes the most hated team in the league whom everyone else would like to see punished and gives them a bit of victimhood. When even former Colt Jeff Saturday is saying they're shocked, you might have pushed past what was sensible.

And it's the non-Brady penalties that simply seem mean-spirited that might prove Goodell's undoing: if you tack on the million dollars, why wouldn't Bob Kraft hire some lawyers to send this to arbitration? If there's a non-zero chance of winning, the expected value is now that percentage x a million bucks. Interestingly, Mike Florio has hidden this post* from this morning pointing out that the NFL's entire case rests on their assumption the head ref didn't remember which gauge he used. Feel however you like about the Patriots, but how would you like to go into court with this thesis, "We base all our evidence on the idea our ref recorded things properly but doesn't know the difference between a straight gauge and a curved one so the numbers are out of whack." Remember too this report is prepared by a company with a history of reversing the truth to match their clients' claims. I'd also mention the Titans being warned instead of fined for warming their balls last year and Aaron Roger's comments via Nantz and Simms that he likes to over-inflate the football. If the league penalty for ball tampering is $25,000 and instead you suspend the QB 4 games, take away a first- and fourth-round pick and fine 40 times the prescribed amount, that seems excessive.

It all comes down to the judge you get, but there's a less-than-zero chance this is the hill Goodell dies on. And then walks home with a hundred million bucks for being a professional moron.

I'm going to start beating the drum that whomever wins the next three Superbowls (assuming it's not Brady & Belichick with a pantsless Randy Moss coming out of retirement) they are all tainted.**

*Yes, I feel like crap for citing Mike Florio's thoughts on anything.
** No, I'm not serious but I hope that takes hold anyway.

posted by yerfatma at 07:17 PM on May 11

Brady has already said he will appeal. Which would be worth it just to point out how many games Ray Rice was suspended for. Also means the NFL will get those phone records.

posted by yerfatma at 07:27 PM on May 11

It all comes down to the judge you get, but there's a less-than-zero chance this is the hill Goodell dies on.

I'd be willing to see the Patriots go unpunished if it meant the end of Goodell.

But I don't think the Pats make a big production out of fighting this. They'll go through the NFL's official appeal process but won't take it to court, because that will just prolong the PR damage.

Which would be worth it just to point out how many games Ray Rice was suspended for.

I don't see how Rice's suspension has any relevance to this. His offense is individual and has nothing to do with the NFL's competitive rules.

posted by rcade at 07:32 PM on May 11

Brady has already said he will appeal. Also means the NFL will get those phone records.

If he does appeal and the phone records are revealed everyone gets the truth ... at last.

If an appeal requires the phone records be disclosed to the NFL Brady will not appeal. He could have doused this whole event way back when before it became a huge bonfire and most likely for a rather meaningless financial penalty. He chose not to.

The truth would be preferred, but ...

I'm betting he serves the penalty and comes back ready to play. Pats will still have 7 games against weak divisional opponents to qualify for the playoffs. And they didn't do too poorly the last time Brady was out anyways.

posted by cixelsyd at 08:22 PM on May 11

I am interested to see what happens with the equipment staff - they've both been suspended indefinitely without pay as of May 6th. Neither were presumably made wealthy by their efforts, and both are probably too tainted to ever get another NFL job.

There's no financial incentive (no over the table incentive, anyways) left to remain silent - and plenty there to speak up. Maybe old loyalties die hard, but if there's a shoe left to drop, you have to think Brady's potential appeal would involve not only the phone records, but also someone talking to those two who no longer have the prospect of a job waiting for them. Possibly after a significant financial offer and with an ESPN camera involved.

posted by dfleming at 09:03 PM on May 11

I could see Kraft negotiating to lower the amount of the fine, and the team asking to be allowed to trade out of the first round instead of losing the pick outright.

"But don't you dare even think about touching that fourth round pick or there will be major hell to pay".

The two tainted equipment guys could get hired by Green Bay. After Rodgers has the Packers' balls over inflated, these two get hold of them and suddenly the balls fall within league specs.

"I vant to pump (clap) YOU up."

posted by beaverboard at 09:54 PM on May 11

I could see them going 1-3 or 0-4 if the backup stinks. As for the draft picks not fazing them, losing a first rounder is huge.

The backup stinks? On a Belichick team? Really?

The draft picks might hurt some long-term, but the Pats have already been through this (Spygate)

posted by NerfballPro at 10:40 PM on May 11

Brady should have passed along texts and messages within the narrow scope of the NFL's request or claimed there were no such texts and messages. His non-compliance was a mistake.

I'm confused.

I was told in the last thread that the NFL was looking for specific messages/phone records from his phone because they knew they were there from other sources.

How could he claim there were no texts/records? Isn't that the same thing as "non-compliance" by simply lying about them?

As for appealing, I'm pretty sure Brady's suspension will be dropped to 2 games before the start of the season. It's why they chose a multiple of 2.

posted by grum@work at 06:18 AM on May 12

Brady may have gotten four games because of the league schedule, and the damned NFL will probably try to hang on for dear life to the four game suspension, because if they reduce it, that means that Brady's first game back won't be against the Colts.

Brady vs. Indy: The Rematch / Return From Purgatory / Full Inflation Edition. That wouldn't be sort of huge? If the league loses that marketing hook by reducing his sentence, it would really fuck up their anointed money train.

Sometimes you get the idea that the NFL plots and stages this sort of confluential shit several years in advance. Don't let anyone try to tell you that the league isn't "visionary".

I'm amazed that they didn't try to insert a bionic spine into Cooper Manning's body so that they could have all three of Archie's boys in the league and schedule a Manning brothers square-off almost every weekend.

posted by beaverboard at 08:14 AM on May 12

How could he claim there were no texts/records?

I don't understand your question. Brady either (a) had messages/texts related to deflated balls and ball preparation or (b) had no such messages/texts. His cooperation for (a) is handing them over, for (b) is letting the league know none exist. He did neither.

Brady's non-cooperation is a separate justification for punishment from the "more probable than not" accusation he was aware of the cheating, and it makes him look guilty. (Before anyone cites the Fifth Amendment, remember this is just an NFL in-house disciplinary process.)

posted by rcade at 08:33 AM on May 12

It's interesting to look at the Patriots' first-round picks to ponder the kind of player the team has lost under this punishment.

I still think Goodell could have, on the Monday or Tuesday after the AFC Championship Game, used the deflated balls as evidence of a violation and punished the team $25,000 and possibly a mid- or late-round draft pick without ever getting into intent.

posted by rcade at 08:41 AM on May 12

The investigators had texts (pages 101-109 of the report) from Brady to the guys specifically relating to the time and subject matter of the case.

Perhaps Brady means what those guys attempted to say when he said he had none - that the context that they were being interpreted as was wrong - however to say he had no texts about the deflation case is preposterous. They have outgoing ones FROM HIM saying "you good boy" (or some variation to that effect) after the equipment guy claims they had a call about the coverage of the story. It's implausible to believe Brady talked to nobody but his agent and coach B about the case, particularly when other guys involved said they chatted about it.

The Pats' punishment is, IMO, moreso about conduct detrimental to the league than it is the specifics of these balls. The balls were a $25,000 fine, but the league had warned everyone after the warming balls issue earlier in the year, this was the Patriots who had been caught in a conspiracy once in recent memory (i.e., pattern of behavior), and it all happened during what was supposed to be the NFL's most positive news cycle of the year.

Divorcing the act from the context makes the penalty seem harsh, but it did more damage than the Titans warming the balls because millions more people were watching. I don't think it survives an appeal (as there isn't a good comparison case that shows consistency in punishment) but at least with the appeal you might get folks who weren't compelled to comply with the investigation to do it this time around. It's a chess move perhaps.

Goodell's a total knob and the arbitrariness and inconsistency of punishment has to be resolved in the league, but IMO I think the penalty was just for what it has - and continues to do - to the league's reputation.

posted by dfleming at 09:04 AM on May 12

This punishment is far more detrimental to the league than anything the Patriots have done. When a commissioner can tee off arbitrarily with his banhammer on any team when he doesn't like their reaction to being accused of a minor offense it makes it look like the commissioner and the league are putting their thumb on the scale. Fine all you want but when you start deciding who can be on the field, that is effecting competition.

What's worse is that this is all out of spite. If the NFL actually cared about how inflated the footballs were, there is no principled reason why you would allow a team to play a half of the AFC championship game with balls they expected were deflated. The league could have told the Patriots to knock it off or measured the balls before the game and levied a fine (if they were even under at the time) but they wanted their sting so they could make a stink about it and now everything stinks.

posted by tron7 at 10:40 AM on May 12

How could he claim there were no texts/records?

I don't understand your question. Brady either (a) had messages/texts related to deflated balls and ball preparation or (b) had no such messages/texts. His cooperation for (a) is handing them over, for (b) is letting the league know none exist. He did neither.

I was told, in the last thread the following:

They have texts after the fact from Brady to one of the two guys. It's in the report. They were looking for other things he might've been texting during that timeframe.

So, if they had texts after the fact from Brady, how could he possibly claim that he had no texts?

You said in the first comment of this thread:

Brady should have passed along texts and messages within the narrow scope of the NFL's request or claimed there were no such texts and messages. His non-compliance was a mistake.

That's my confusion. How is claiming that there were no such texts any different than "non-compliance", if they already know there ARE such texts?

Do you understand my question/confusion now?

posted by grum@work at 11:08 AM on May 12

I was just trying to be fair to Brady and not assume he had texts/messages that were incriminating to him.

When a commissioner can tee off arbitrarily with his banhammer on any team when he doesn't like their reaction to being accused of a minor offense ...

I don't regard intentionally deflating the balls below the amount allowed by the rules as a minor offense. What the Patriots did affected competition. The rule on the proper inflation of the balls was there for a reason.

If the NFL actually cared about how inflated the footballs were, there is no principled reason why you would allow a team to play a half of the AFC championship game with balls they expected were deflated.

League officials tested the balls before the game and they were properly inflated. It's not the NFL's fault that a Patriots staff member deflated them in transit from the inspection site to the field. When the Colts tested the intercepted ball and reported the suspicious finding, the league got involved. It tested as many balls as it could during halftime, but then its focus was back on the game being played.

Let's keep the blame where it belongs -- on the people who cheated.

posted by rcade at 11:18 AM on May 12

"The NFL is now in the business of punishment, and with the completely arbitrary and stupid machine they've put in place, they can pretty much punish anyone for any reason in any way now. In the case of the Patriots, I find all this hilarious because the Patriots and their fans are entitled assholes and I want them to fail. But of course, it won't be so funny when my team accidentally farts on a ref and tries to cover it up and then Goodell moves them to Alaska as punishment. "

And damnit, now I'm disappointed it turns out Kraft has no recourse short of suing. Though I'm in love with the idea of the team going full Al Davis Raiders (the '70s/ '80s edition, not the last couple of decades) and going Full Villain. Embrace it.

posted by yerfatma at 11:27 AM on May 12

The rule on the proper inflation of the balls was there for a reason.

As is the punishment for violating it, which doesn't include suspensions or draft picks.

posted by Etrigan at 11:58 AM on May 12

It's not the NFL's fault that a Patriots staff member deflated them in transit from the inspection site to the field.

Well, it is, but not in relation to the case at hand.

I'm not sure why, after they have been tested and approved by the NFL, the balls are then taken out of control of the NFL officials at any time. I would think that they would be approved by the officials, and then kept under control of the side line officials until they are brought into play.

Put them in separately marked bags and watched by a sideline official.

posted by grum@work at 11:58 AM on May 12

As is the punishment for violating it, which doesn't include suspensions or draft picks.

I think this is a case where the punishment is for the conspiracy/cover-up, not the actual offence.

posted by grum@work at 11:59 AM on May 12

As is the punishment for violating it, which doesn't include suspensions or draft picks.

The NFL punished for the violation, for the Patriots non-cooperation in the investigation and for it being an institutional repeat offense after Spygate. All three were cited by the league when it dropped the hammer.

I'm not sure why, after they have been tested and approved by the NFL, the balls are then taken out of control of the NFL officials at any time.

It's great you want to fix the process, but how does that mitigate what the Patriots staffers and Brady (probably) did? "If you didn't want your balls deflated, you should look after them better."

posted by rcade at 12:07 PM on May 12

Though I'm in love with the idea of the team going full Al Davis Raiders (the '70s/ '80s edition, not the last couple of decades) and going Full Villain. Embrace it.

I don't think that an owner going "full villain" is possible in today's sports world. The teams are too valuable and the owners too corporate. The outcome if Robert Kraft went hard after the NFL would likely be the same as Donald Sterling's fate in the NBA.

Kraft will wave the bloody jersey for a little while but it will remain business as usual for his team and the league.

posted by rcade at 12:12 PM on May 12

They unleveled the playing field. No difference then a PED user. Cheating is cheating. They knew the rules, they broke them(repeatedly) they got caught. As an organization, the have a history. Punishment must be harsh to hopefully help them and the league see that if you break the rules, there are consequences.

I still blame the league for giving the teams control of the balls. They opened up the possibility. If your not cheating, your not trying.

posted by Debo270 at 12:19 PM on May 12

If the NFL actually cared about how inflated the footballs were, there is no principled reason why you would allow a team to play a half of the AFC championship game with balls they expected were deflated. The league could have told the Patriots to knock it off or measured the balls before the game and levied a fine (if they were even under at the time) but they wanted their sting so they could make a stink about it and now everything stinks.

I don't understand the logic of this at all.

First - the league would've had to have known the Colts' allegation was definitely true and had occurred during this game (i.e., the Pats may or may not do this every game, or just some games, or just once, or never) - in this instance, they didn't get confirmation until a ball came back to the sidelines that was questionable and confirmed it. They had zero measured balls at kick-off to conclude this theory.

Second - they would've had to known the procedure "more probably than not" included the balls being properly inflated prior to inspection then deflated just prior to the game. They had no analysis or theories at that point on possible ways this might be accomplished.

Third - the allegation indicated that there was the belief this was not an isolated incident, but a pattern of behaviour. The Colts' allegation pre-game was not about this game, but about previous games, and they wanted the NFL to analyze this game.

Fourth - this also presumes that the fine would've prevented any additional investigation into conspiracy or how it happened. There were conspiracy theorists here (hey cixelsyd) last week believing that the NFL favoured the Pats and were going to get a "blind eye" treatment because of Kraft's relationship with Goodell. Those people would've had a conniption fit over sweeping this under a rug in a title game.

The ideal scenario for the NFL in this was the Colts levy an accusation, they measure the balls, and they're fine. It was not a witch hunt that left a ton of people really angry in the end.

posted by dfleming at 12:30 PM on May 12

I don't regard intentionally deflating the balls below the amount allowed by the rules as a minor offense.

Well, when the league ignores, lightly punishes, or gives warnings for similar infractions it shows the league treating it as minor.

What the Patriots did affected competition. The rule on the proper inflation of the balls was there for a reason.

What exactly is that reason? What is this a slippery slope to? Quarterbacks inflating the football to their liking leads to what, exactly? With the lax enforcement by officials it seems to me that this was already the case for the most part.

posted by tron7 at 12:43 PM on May 12

Quarterbacks inflating the football to their liking leads to what, exactly?

-Better grip
-Easier to catch
-Tighter spiral
-Less slipping on the ball during throws.(conspiracy:TUCK RULE)

Nothing major

posted by Debo270 at 01:01 PM on May 12

Well, when the league ignores, lightly punishes, or gives warnings for similar infractions it shows the league treating it as minor.

You should provide context for this statement. What similar infractions were punished lightly?

What exactly is that reason?

The rationale for uniformity in the inflation of footballs is obvious. Two teams are on the field trying to catch the ball any time it is thrown, pick it up when it's fumbled, and so on. The rules required inflation within 12.5 to 13.5 pounds. Players practice with balls in that range. It's not an equal playing field if one team is breaking that rule and has players more accustomed to using a ball outside that range than an opponent.

But even without a rationale, it's still Rule 2, Section 1 of the NFL Rulebook. Remember what Tom Brady said to the complaining Baltimore Ravens after the Pats' sneaky formation trick in the divisional playoff? "Maybe those guys gotta study the rulebook."

If the Pats don't like being punished over this rule, maybe they gotta study the rulebook.

posted by rcade at 01:01 PM on May 12

What exactly is that reason? What is this a slippery slope to? Quarterbacks inflating the football to their liking leads to what, exactly?

Play one - a run. Team A subs a half-filled ball in which can be gripped with one hand and is next to impossible to strip from a runner.

Play two - a pass. Team A subs in a fully-filled ball that flies through the air better.

Play three - the kicking team inflates a ball to just below its explosion point before punting to encourage fumbles.

posted by dfleming at 01:02 PM on May 12

Punishment must be harsh to hopefully help them and the league see that if you break the rules, there are consequences

Amen.

And hopefully the offenders, the NFL, and it's other members learn from this shit storm and come to the realization that all parties need to work to resolve any future occurrences appropriately together in a timely manner.

posted by cixelsyd at 01:09 PM on May 12

Play one - a run....

Except the officials control what football is being used. Kicking balls are already separate.

It's not an equal playing field if one team is breaking that rule and has players more accustomed to using a ball outside that range than an opponent.

This seems pretty minor to me. If a defender grabbed a ball that wasn't as inflated as he's used to, I don't see that causing disadvantage.

You should provide context for this statement. What similar infractions were punished lightly?

Teams warming balls, quarterbacks reporting that they try to get balls as full or flat as possible.

posted by tron7 at 01:21 PM on May 12

I still think Goodell could have, on the Monday or Tuesday after the AFC Championship Game, used the deflated balls as evidence of a violation and punished the team $25,000 and possibly a mid- or late-round draft pick without ever getting into intent.

I would have been satisfied with that punishment, though I suspect the cries of the league being soft on the Patriots would have been loud and unrelenting. Also, after the Ray Rice incident, I suspect Goodell was reluctant to penalize early, lest another shoe drop (even if it didn't matter if there were any more shoes).

It would have been great if the result of all of this was that in addition to letting the qbs prepare the balls prior to the game, the rule was changed so that they could inflate the balls to whatever level they like; it's not like they were going to knock they down to 5 psi and try to throw them half-flat. Unfortunately, this penalty leaves no chance of that.

What exactly is that reason? What is this a slippery slope to? Quarterbacks inflating the football to their liking leads to what, exactly?

Play one - a run. Team A subs a half-filled ball in which can be gripped with one hand and is next to impossible to strip from a runner.

Play two - a pass. Team A subs in a fully-filled ball that flies through the air better.

Play three - the kicking team inflates a ball to just below its explosion point before punting to encourage fumbles.

I'm not sure if you're being serious or facetious here, but I'll assume the former. With the exception of the separate balls for kicking, the team provides the referees with their balls, and they (the referees) throw them in for each play. The team doesn't get to pick a running ball or a throwing ball for each play.*

*Someone correct me if I'm wrong on that, but if I am, that would seem to be a very easy thing to fix.

posted by bender at 01:24 PM on May 12

Though I'm in love with the idea of the team going full Al Davis Raiders

Me too. It took Roger Goodell several ballots to get elected commissioner. One reason was that the Raiders abstained from voting on every ballot.

With silver helmets and a convicted murderer formerly on the roster, the Pats are almost there already. They might just need to go a bit darker on the unis, and provide game day vouchers so more Harley Davidson enthusiasts from the region can afford to enter the stadium.

Hell, Laconia could become depopulated during the Patriots' pre-season games.

If you decided to go to battle with Goodell, your main concern would be that winning might not be as challenging a feat as you'd want it to be. With a guy who is prone to the sorts of things he is prone to, all you might have to do is throw a handful of sunflower seeds inside the Havahart trap, then take a ringside seat, pour a tall beverage, and sit back, relax, and watch him do all the work.

posted by beaverboard at 01:26 PM on May 12

I'm not sure if you're being serious or facetious here, but I'll assume the former. With the exception of the separate balls for kicking, the team provides the referees with their balls, and they (the referees) throw them in for each play. The team doesn't get to pick a running ball or a throwing ball for each play.*

I believe, though, a team or QB can ask for a ball to be replaced at any time. If I am wrong there, I apologize for adding to the noise.

It doesn't negate the fact that a run-heavy team (or a team playing in the rain) could use a half-deflated ball to avoid fumbles and strips.

I mean, if it didn't matter at all, QBs wouldn't have a preference or have pushed for ball prep control would they?

posted by dfleming at 01:38 PM on May 12

How can anyone see this as a minor issue?

You can argue all day that the air pressure in the ball doesnt make much difference and maybe you are right, but that is like using a slightly smaller baseball or a slightly lighter shot-put or having your car in a race slightly lower to the ground or saying "I only took steroids to heal faster."

IT IS THE RULES. FOLLOW THEM.

I am a teacher. I know kids cheat on tests. I tell them "Don't cheat". I am sure some get away with it, but if you are caught, punishment is severe. All the "entitled" athletes need to learn they are not above the rules. Even Golden Boy Brady

People make rules, others try to get around them. If you get caught, DEAL WITH IT. They knew they were breaking the rule. They had not been caught yet, so they kept doing it. The Pats have a history of walking that fine line and crossing it. At some point you gotta pay the piper.

posted by Debo270 at 02:02 PM on May 12

I mean, if it didn't matter at all, QBs wouldn't have a preference or have pushed for ball prep control would they?

Ding ding ding!!!!! We have a winner.

posted by Debo270 at 02:03 PM on May 12

IT IS THE RULES. FOLLOW THEM.

Sure, it's like speeding. Brady got pulled over for going ten over and the judge gave him four years in prison when he didn't admit to speeding. Oh, and the cop didn't actually have the radar gun reading but he was probably speeding.

I guess I think it's far less important than most people. If you see this as a minor offense the whole thing looks like a giant fiasco and a witch hunt but if you think ball pressure is important it maybe makes more sense. I don't know what to make of Aaron Rodgers then if lower ball pressure is the key to victory. I don't know what to make of the league letting anyone adjust the balls at all if it's such a big deal.

posted by tron7 at 02:29 PM on May 12

I mean, if it didn't matter at all, QBs wouldn't have a preference or have pushed for ball prep control would they?

I'm neither saying that it doesn't make a difference nor that it doesn't matter. I'm simply suggesting that the league goes to the teams and says, "On gameday, it is your responsibility to give us X footballs for kicking and X footballs for your offensive plays. You may do whatever you want to them short of adding anything to them that is not air, but once you turn them over to us before the game, they are in our custody, and we will put them in play at the appropriate time." How simple is that?

If a team wants highly inflated balls or lowly inflated balls, that is their prerogative, and all teams would have the same opportunity to prepare them to their liking. As I understand it, that is fairly close to the rule as it is now except that there is a pressure range that the balls must be within. I just don't see why there needs to be one. If Tom Brady likes to throw a softer ball than one other qb, I haven't yet heard a good reason why he shouldn't be able to.

As for the punishment, I don't think that anyone is suggesting that they should not be punished; they did, after all, break a rule that was in the rule book. I do however believe that (1) the punishment handed down was excessive--even if the fact that it was a playoff game is reason enough to go beyond the prescribed $25k fine, and (2) the rule itself does not serve sufficient purpose that it shouldn't be stricken from the book.

posted by bender at 02:38 PM on May 12

If you see this as a minor offense the whole thing looks like a giant fiasco and a witch hunt ...

If it's such a minor offense, why didn't Brady and the Patriots staffers just admit doing it? Owners have self-reported possible tampering and the Falcons self-reported the faked crowd noise. If Brady and/or the staffers did that right away, it probably deflates the scandal and they get a lesser punishment.

Instead, they're evasive and Belichick gives a press conference where he plays Bill Nye the Science Coach.

posted by rcade at 03:19 PM on May 12

the whole thing looks like a giant fiasco and a witch hunt

Don't cheat. No story, no fiasco.

The whole thing looks like a team cheating, getting caught, and refusing to accept responsibility. By a repeat offender.

Forget about the rule that was broken, whether you think it has any realistic bearing on the play, etc. It's a rule that all teams are to expected to abide by. Any team that deliberately breaks a rule is doing so to get an unfair advantage over an opponent. This destroys the integrity of the sport.

posted by cixelsyd at 03:23 PM on May 12

If Tom Brady likes to throw a softer ball than one other qb, I haven't yet heard a good reason why he shouldn't be able to.

Because quarterbacks are not the only ones with a stake in how the balls are prepared (defensive players would prefer pickable and strippable balls) and because 32 teams came together to decide, like baseball did with doctoring baseballs, that they prefer a uniform standard for the equipment they use.

This wasn't foist by a ghoulish king against everyone's will, and clearly Brady et. al had influence on the process as they very recently had a rule changed.

posted by dfleming at 03:24 PM on May 12

If it's such a minor offense, why didn't Brady and the Patriots staffers just admit doing it?

I tend to agree with you here, but is it possible they just got sick of it all? This was a week after the Ravens spent the post-game pissing and moaning about plays that were within the rules (which an ESPN talking head tried to roll into the "Culture of Cheating" list last night). At some point it must feel like nonsense, especially when you spent at least one game during the season dealing with overinflated balls from the Jets and saw multiple teams get off scot-free for the same issue earlier in the season.

posted by yerfatma at 03:24 PM on May 12

I tend to agree with you here, but is it possible they just got sick of it all?

If staffers intentionally deflated the balls in a bathroom after the officials inspected them before the game, I don't think being weary explains the decision by involved parties not to admit this. I think they were afraid of the consequences of their actions.

posted by rcade at 03:37 PM on May 12

I'm simply suggesting that the league goes to the teams and says, "On gameday, it is your responsibility to give us X footballs for kicking and X footballs for your offensive plays. You may do whatever you want to them short of adding anything to them that is not air, but once you turn them over to us before the game, they are in our custody, and we will put them in play at the appropriate time." How simple is that?

Even simpler for the league to say "We will provide balls from now on. They will be inflated to X psi on the sidelines one hour before kickoff. We will rotate them on each offensive series and reinflate each one to X psi on the sidelines when it comes out of circulation, and then again at halftime."

Hell, if you want to make it interactive, tell the teams that if they can agree on X, that'll be it; otherwise, the league standard will be 13 or whatever.

I can see why teams need to provide equipment when it's a scrappy bunch of part-timers out of Akron and Duluth and Pottsville. I can't see it when it's a multibillion-dollar corporation.

posted by Etrigan at 03:46 PM on May 12

it's a scrappy bunch of part-timers out of Akron and Duluth and Pottsville

I see what you did there!

posted by grum@work at 04:18 PM on May 12

Yeah, I could think of Akron and Pottsville, but I wasn't sure whether it was Pittsville, and I needed a good third anyway.

posted by Etrigan at 05:27 PM on May 12

Fine the Patriots $1,000,000.

Cut Brady for four games. Brady makes $925,000 a game. Four games is $3,700,000.

Net Savings to Patriots: $2,700,000.

posted by Joey Michaels at 07:25 PM on May 12

Net Savings to Patriots: $2,700,000

They also get the perfect opportunity to give a potential successor some playing time in winnable games. It's not all bad for the Patriots.

posted by cixelsyd at 09:40 PM on May 12

Here's a handy guide to cheating in the NFL. It appears that Patriots have plenty of company in the shenanigans department.

posted by Howard_T at 10:33 PM on May 12

Net Savings to Patriots: $2,700,000

Also have to factor in: lost ticket sales in the first four games because people want to see Brady, not Garoppolo; missed playoff games if they miss the playoffs by a game or two (or if seeded 3 or 4 instead of 1 or 2, the extra playoff game they host), not to mention the salary of the players they don't draft (or the resulting trades to replenish the roster to cover the missed picks). It can get convoluted, but the point is, it's all speculative and hard to pin a true price on this.

But you're right Joey, they'll probably still come out way ahead in the long run.

posted by NerfballPro at 07:38 AM on May 13

Not sure about the lost ticket sales angle: Brady jersey sales spike post-Deflategate.

posted by billsaysthis at 11:08 AM on May 13

Breaking news - Pats sign undrafted QB Dom Grady to take #12's spot on the roster.

posted by dfleming at 11:19 AM on May 13

No one is writing about the stealth workouts that Jamarcus Russell has been going through in Belichick's secret underground training facility.

I think BB is using a technique called chiliboarding to shock Russell into losing weight and becoming a capable NFL QB.

They're going to sign him as a tight end, give him Hernandez' old number, then play him under center and dare Goodell to complain about his uniform.

posted by beaverboard at 12:17 PM on May 13

In this Division, I'm not worried that four games with Janeane Garofalo at Quarterback is going to derail the Patriots' ascension to yet another AFC East title.

Angry Bill will make sure he's the most prepared backup since that time Matt Cassell looked like an NFL Quarterback.

And Tom gets to enjoy another five weeks of whatever is happening here.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 01:04 PM on May 13

My kingdom for a pressure gauge.

posted by beaverboard at 03:01 PM on May 13

Bismarck: You should at least worry that a 1-3 or 2-2 start may put home-field advantage in jeopardy. Don't rob me of some early-season drama.

posted by rcade at 03:41 PM on May 13

They started last year 2-2 with a jaw-dropping bad performance in Kansas City in week 4 and still secured home field the whole way.

It would be hard to imagine anything other than 0-4 leaving them in worse shape than they were 4 weeks into last year.

posted by dfleming at 03:54 PM on May 13

I'd like to see stats on how many teams begin 2-2 or worse and get the No. 1 seed in their conference.

posted by rcade at 06:30 PM on May 13

I've deleted a comment because of excessive personal abuse. I also deleted two comments it received, solely because they make no sense without it. I emailed a copy of the comment to the member in case he'd like to try again.

posted by rcade at 08:19 AM on May 14

Florio: "Before January 18, 2015, football air pressure had never been a big deal for the NFL."

Any alleged cheating was going to be a big deal when it took place in a conference championship game and broke as a news story a day later.

But I think this scandal could have been of reasonable size, instead of becoming a monster, if Goodell had simply punished the infraction without looking into intent. The Patriots could have helped achieve that outcome by self-reporting what they did, just like the Falcons self-reported the fake crowd noise.

The NFL could have quickly fined the Patriots $25,000 and a fifth-round pick (what the Falcons lost). The punishment would have helped foster the idea that it was a minor infraction instead of a major one.

posted by rcade at 08:32 AM on May 14

Thanks, rcade.

The physicist article you posted yerfatma is a really good read. It challenges the scientific integrity of the findings (in addition to the findings themselves) but really gives me a real reason to pause here. It's one thing to conclude based on a set of factors that have been reasonably controlled for and recorded, another to simply fill in blanks with what seems most plausible and then assign certainty to that.

posted by dfleming at 08:56 AM on May 14

I'd like to see stats on how many teams begin 2-2 or worse and get the No. 1 seed in their conference.

I found two instances in just the 21st century.

The 2005 Seattle Seahawks were 2-2 and finished atop the NFC.

The 2003 Philadelphia Eagles were 2-2 and finished atop the NFC. They also lost the fifth game of the season.

posted by grum@work at 08:56 AM on May 14

The Patriots could have helped achieve that outcome by self-reporting what they did

I completely agree with this, but there's an "if" attached to it: if they did do anything. Take a look at the other link, what if they didn't do a thing? What do they self-report then, especially knowing the rest of the league thinks of them as "The Cheatriots"?

posted by yerfatma at 11:28 AM on May 14

After reading quite a bit of the Wells report and skipping most of the media coverage, I regard the idea the Patriots did nothing at all to be exceedingly small.

McNally took the balls to the bathroom, which he was unauthorized to do and caused anger among the NFL officials at the time. McNally spent enough time in there to deflate them and the halftime check showed 11 of 12 of the team's balls were below allowed pressure at halftime. Texts show McNally talking about how much Brady cared about the inflation level of footballs, to the point Brady was pissing him off.

That's enough for me. The idea no one at the Patriots had anything they could have self-reported is not credible.

posted by rcade at 12:46 PM on May 14

caused anger among the NFL officials at the time

That's not what the Patriots' giant new rebuttal site says, if you'll pardon the giant blockquote because I can't seem to link to the bits and bobs:

"When the NFC Championship Game ended abruptly in overtime and Mr. McNally started from the back of the sitting room towards the door to the hallway, he walked by numerous League officials in the sitting room. As the report states (pg. 55), the sitting room was crowded with "NFL personnel, game officials and others gathered there to watch the conclusion of the NFC Championship Game on television." Mr. McNally had to navigate this crowd of officials to make it through the sitting room with two large bags of footballs on his shoulders. Mr. McNally, a physically big man, hoisted two large bags of footballs and lumbered past all these League officials and out the door of the Officials' Locker Room. As is clear from the report, no one objected; no one told him to stop; no one requested that he wait to be accompanied by a League official; no one told him that a League official had to carry the footballs to the field. After he walked past all of these League officials and out the door of the Officials' Locker Room to the hallway, he then walked past James Daniel, an NFL official and one of the people who had been alerted to the Colts psi concerns pre-game (pg. 45). Mr. Daniel, as seen on the security video, looked at Mr. McNally carrying the bags of footballs toward the field unaccompanied by any League or game official, and made no objection to Mr. McNally continuing unaccompanied to the field. In short, if officials lost track of the location of game footballs, it was not because Mr. McNally stealthily removed them. (Omitted from the investigation were interviews with all those League officials whom Mr. McNally walked past with the bags of footballs on his shoulders.) Even after halftime, when obvious attention was being paid to game footballs and psi issues by League and game officials, who took control of the footballs at halftime, the security video shows Mr. McNally, with no objection, taking the footballs from the Officials' Locker Room back to the field totally unaccompanied by any League or Game official.

posted by yerfatma at 01:03 PM on May 14

Also, while I'm still in the process of digesting that site and want very much to believe every word, I think they would have been better off leaving this bit off:

They never asked Mr. Jastremski about it in his interview. Had they done so, they would have learned from either gentleman one of the ways they used the deflation/deflator term. Mr. Jastremski would sometimes work out and bulk up he is a slender guy and his goal was to get to 200 pounds. Mr. McNally is a big fellow and had the opposite goal: to lose weight. "Deflate" was a term they used to refer to losing weight. One can specifically see this use of the term in a Nov. 30, 2014 text from Mr. McNally to Mr. Jastremski: "deflate and give somebody that jacket." (p. 87). This banter, and Mr. McNally's goal of losing weight, meant Mr. McNally was the "deflator." There was nothing complicated or sinister about it.
Even if it's true it seems unbelievably lame.

posted by yerfatma at 01:48 PM on May 14

Mr. McNally is a big fellow and had the opposite goal: to lose weight. "Deflate" was a term they used to refer to losing weight.

I now am officially considering approaching the Patriots for a new keyboard and 1/8th cup of coffee. I will provide photographic proof and also allow them access to specific messages of interest on my phone they deem required to resolve the situation.

posted by cixelsyd at 03:25 PM on May 14

I mean how incredibly unlucky would you have to be to have a term you created that is thoroughly unused in a particular context - but you use it that way - to then become the subject of a massive scandal?

It's like all those moms and dads on November 8th, 2000 who named their kids Hanging as they normally would, and then that one dad who suggested the middle name Chad to his wife to go with it. "It's a perfectly good name" he said. "What could possibly go wrong?" he said.

posted by dfleming at 03:53 PM on May 14

PFT asks a good question: If the Patriots believe McNally and Jastremski did nothing wrong, why did the team suspend them indefinitely without pay?

posted by rcade at 03:56 PM on May 14

I don't think they do. The texts reveal them stealing shoes and being vaguely disrespectful. Just nothing to do with deflating balls.

posted by yerfatma at 06:30 PM on May 14

And before anyone says, "Oh like they're really going to fire a couple of schmoes over free shoes", look at the level of outrage amongst sports columnists in this country now. It's already a festering den of snakes in New England, corrupt from stem to stern. If they'd let these two hang around the stories would become Maddux-esque:

"I heard to join the front office, The Opaque, you gotta drink a virgin's blood . . . daiquiri."

"I heard on every Summer Solstice they sacrifice a cow that's then made into Bob Kraft's bespoke Air Jordans!"

posted by yerfatma at 07:24 PM on May 14

I hope Greg Maddux never learns you compared him to The Patriots. The consequences could be dire for all of us.

posted by Joey Michaels at 08:36 PM on May 14

Last fall, the online sports wagering parlors had Goodell at around 9-2 to head to the unemployment line in the wake of the Ray Rice saga. I'm currently waiting patiently for the betting line to resurface. This time, I may put money down, as this past winter has brought home repair bills that could not have been imagined, let alone anticipated.

(If I were to go to Key West and mention "ice dams", sure as hell, there would initially be blank stares, then I'd be served a margarita that would wreck my virtue.)

posted by beaverboard at 09:00 PM on May 14

How can you just continue to get the easy stuff wrong? The NFL has selected the judge for Tom Brady's appeal and it's . . . Roger Goodell. Wouldn't you be better served providing at least the appearance of giving them a chance? And wouldn't an independent arbitrator lessen the chance this goes to court? The whole thing should be live TV on The Lifetime Network.

posted by yerfatma at 08:42 AM on May 15

The NFL has selected the judge for Tom Brady's appeal and it's . . . Roger Goodell.

Every time I think this whole thing can't get any dumber.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 09:16 AM on May 15

Either Goodell has gone into full Untergang mode, or he sees how much happier and more relaxed Jon Gruden seems to be after leaving the league, and he's waiting for the owners to come up with a comfortable exit package for him before he tears down the entire playhouse.

posted by beaverboard at 09:49 AM on May 15

The whole thing should be live TV on The Lifetime Network.

I know this sounds weird but I really want a Roger Goodell movie. I'm thinking W. but with footballs. Not sure who I want playing the lead.

posted by tron7 at 10:14 AM on May 15

Robert Redford is too old and would never do it anyway. But the resemblance is there.

Wish Hunter S. Thompson was still alive to weigh in on Goodell.

posted by beaverboard at 10:23 AM on May 15

This just in from the Warren Commission:

The pass that Brady threw at the goal line in the Super Bowl missed both Julian Edelman and President Kennedy, but did hit Governor Connally.

posted by beaverboard at 10:58 AM on May 15

Not sure who I want playing the lead.

It's the neck that makes the casting so hard. The man's gift is that his face conveys "Inbred Yankee moron living off his family's position" and then combines it with the neck of That Guy from your local Gold's Gym.

posted by yerfatma at 11:19 AM on May 15

Missing the point here.

I'll concede that Goodell has generally mishandled league PR issues during his tenure. If you buy into Goodell being the offender in this situation then the Patriots legal representatives and spin doctors are doing a better job than the league office.

This a clear cut case of official league rules being broken and the refusal of the offending parties to provide requested information in a league investigation. Information that would allow proper penalties being applied to the appropriate parties.

Goodell did not doctor the Patriots footballs and he did not hide evidence from an investigation.

What the heck could a third/fourth/fifth party do to resolve the situation? And if somehow the NFL was overruled on application of it's own performance rules would that be considered a positive outcome?

posted by cixelsyd at 11:36 AM on May 15

Oh, hey, there might be a an NFL movie already in the works. Luke Wilson? I like these casting choices better.

posted by tron7 at 11:54 AM on May 15

This a clear cut case

posted by yerfatma at 12:19 PM on May 15

Going to guess some of the reason Goodell appointed himself is because the Patriots' letter was . . . less than friendly announcing their intention to call both Goodell and Vincent as witnesses and reminding Troy Vincent that, "We also note that one arbitrator has previously found that you, in particular, are unfamiliar with proper NFL discipline procedures and have no role in imposing discipline."

posted by yerfatma at 01:10 PM on May 15

cixelsyd: This a clear cut case of official league rules being broken
The case of the rules being broken is anything but clear cut; the NFL and the Well's Report do not demonstrate any convincing or even probable evidence the footballs were deflated by anyone- much less the Patriots.

The fabled "TWO POUNDS" and "10.1 PSI!!!" turned out to be non-existent. By the NFL's own report, the actual measurements at halftime were solidly in the range of the ideal gas law. Whether they understood the ideal gas law on Jan 18, the NFL conveniently knew these figures at halftime yet did nothing to stem the tide of false leaks in the media for weeks about "two pounds" and "10.1". Even in the Wells report, the only way they could make a case for a "more probable than not" act of deflation was to claim that Walt Anderson misremembered the gauge he used... even though they considered that same Walt Anderson as unimpeachable when recalling the exact pressure he got the footballs at to start the game. However, if we take him at his word on both items... the balls appeared to be the expected pressure, per science.

I'll admit, that doesn't mean the Patriots didn't tamper with the balls that game, or didn't do so in past game, nor that maybe they tried and simply failed to do so successfully enough. But despite the NFL intentionally measuring the balls for that game there still wasn't any clear scientific evidence of a rule definitely being broken, then how can the "offending parties" actually be "offending parties"?

and the refusal of the offending parties to provide requested information in a league investigation.
What information can they provide, if the investigation is convinced something happened- that maybe didn't even happen? The term here is "proving a negative". If I accused you of speeding on your way home from work yesterday, can you prove you didn't? And when I realize I can't prove you did speed, should I get to throw an even bigger penalty than a speeding ticket at you for not "cooperating" in proving you sped... especially if you didn't actually speed yesterday?

Information that would allow proper penalties being applied to the appropriate parties.
Proper penalties were already outlined in the rulebook at $25K. Hence the outrage in some corners that, by lacking clearcut evidence- like they had with the Vikings and Chargers- the punishment was much harsher for the Patriots.

But you know, I was reprimanded for losing my shit (I can't even say deleting the comment wasn't justified, although in my tiny defense this whole insane and unjust debacle has been as frustrating as watching the first two thirds of the "Shawshank Redemption" on daily loop). So I'm going to stop trying to convince anyone.

Instead, I'm curious. Hypothetically, what is the minimum amount of evidence, facts, explanation, testimony, or other piece of data that could make you change your mind, or at least admit a possibility that the case is not "clear cut"?

For example, if video leaked today of Roger Goodell on hidden camera in January saying "I'm going to get those Patriots, with a frame job about ball pressure, mwuahaha!"... would that sway you? Is that the bare minimum to prove a negative for you? Is the minimum to introduce some doubt higher than that? Lower? Even non-existent; literally nothing you could see or hear after this point would change your mind?

posted by hincandenza at 01:46 PM on May 15

Instead, I'm curious. Hypothetically, what is the minimum amount of evidence, facts, explanation, testimony, or other piece of data that could make you change your mind, or at least admit a possibility that the case is not "clear cut"?

I guess I could approach this two ways:

1) Video from inside the washroom showing the guy was taking a leak and didn't touch the balls. That's the only period in this where anything could've happened and would match up to the dubious-er by the day looking measurement angles of this case.

OR Something on record that proves what I think is a pretty insane conspiracy - that the NFL preferred the tarring, feathering and disgracing of their reigning Super Bowl champs to a clean post-season which ended incredibly. That the NFL wanted a significant portion of its fans thoroughly angry at them all off-season, only to have another big group of its fans thoroughly pissed at them once they came down hard on Tom Brady.

It is such a counter-intuitive thing to think folks concerned with PR would have believed this outcome was better. Goodell seemed to have few friends left in the NFL and he just torched his closest relationship. None of that makes any sense to me. Nobody was going to forget Ray Rice because they prosecuted a seldom-considered rule harshly. Nobody could possibly have expected that outcome.

OR Something that showed that in fact Tom Brady was willing to comply and that Ted Wells' terms he offered in the media were not in fact the terms. Say - they really only offered unadulterated seizure of his phone for a week without any scrubbing of personal shit on it.

OR Some other shoe to drop regarding the actual measurements - say in reality one of the gauges didn't really exist, or things were forged, or the refs changed their stories on what they did to measure these balls to adhere to the narrative that something happened here.

2) Video that corroborates some of the folks like Jeff Blake et al. who have claimed this happens all the time, by all teams, and this situation is being overblown by Irsay to make up for his team's failings.

Blake claimed ball boys used to stick pins in the balls all the time - a few videos like that would blow the doors off the Colts' accusations that the Pats are specifically doing something wrong. Say we catch 2 other teams in the last 5 years doing that. Bonus if it's the Colts.

Something in those arenas would let me feel really comfortable that the Pats got a super raw deal here and there's enough to throw the whole thing out and blame the NFL for yet another total clusterfuck.

posted by dfleming at 03:05 PM on May 15

admit a possibility that the case is not "clear cut"?

I guess I could approach this two ways:

I'll concur with 1).

2) would do nothing to prove the rules weren't intentionally broken.
I am assuming this is a response to proving the "Goodell and the NFL are intentionally targeting a flagship franchise (Patriots) and its most marketable player (Brady)" conspiracy theory.
The principle here is to enforce the rules of the game to ensure it's integrity.
If others are caught they should also be penalized accordingly.

When the news broke my first thought was the damage the Colts had done themselves by even mentioning anything after the way they were destroyed. Brady could have been throwing Jet-Puffed's and it would have had no bearing on the outcome. Enter Robert Kraft and his poorly executed attack on everyone non-Patriot. It's now crystal clear he did so without even investigating his own organization.
The "We are the Patriots, and we don't need to comply with or answer to anyone - We'll show the NFL who is boss" approach was and continues to be exothermic.

And unrelenting.
Until we get to the point where we are now.

It would appear Goodell and the NFL levied punishment based upon the circumstances surrounding the infraction rather than the infraction itself. A slap on the wrist penalty here would have been confirmation that the tail is wagging the dog.

It is highly probable that he got it right.

posted by cixelsyd at 04:48 PM on May 15

... there still wasn't any clear scientific evidence of a rule definitely being broken ...

The rule requires balls to be from 12.5 to 13.5 psi. Members of the officiating crew and a senior officiating supervisor tested all 11 of the Patriots balls, per the Wells report, and found all 11 below 12.5.

That's clear evidence of a rule being broken, isn't it? The NFL rulebook doesn't say it's OK for balls to go below 12.5 because of the Ideal Gas Law.

posted by rcade at 05:20 PM on May 15

Wait... are you being serious right now? So a 4-game suspension, million dollar fine, and a 1st and 3rd round pick because of an inviolable law of physics?

What, exactly, was Brady supposed to do, control the weather so there wouldn't be a pressure and temperature variance on the field compared to the locker room?

posted by hincandenza at 05:44 PM on May 15

The NFL rulebook doesn't say it's OK for balls to go below 12.5 because of the Ideal Gas Law.

That doesn't seem unreasonable to you? It seems like it would be pretty difficult to find a starting PSIM that would keep the ball in a one PSI range for the entirety of a four hour game. Especially if the range on the pressure gauges can vary by as much as .45 PSI. I suppose if you filled the balls in cold weather it would work. Anyway, if you're going to be this legalistic about the rule, shouldn't you follow suit for the punishment?

posted by tron7 at 05:48 PM on May 15

Something on record that proves what I think is a pretty insane conspiracy - that the NFL preferred the tarring, feathering and disgracing of their reigning Super Bowl champs to a clean post-season which ended incredibly.

Members of the officiating crew and a senior officiating supervisor tested all 11 of the Patriots balls, per the Wells report, and found all 11 below 12.5.

So I've been reading two books recently that seem completely germane here: How Children Succeed and Thinking, Fast and Slow. One thread that connects the two is how we are predisposed to believe the things we want to believe (Thinking, Fast and Slow is really incredible about this and how we aren't even aware of the things that "prime" us to believe misleading concepts). The first book talks a lot about chess; it mentions the difference between chess masters and chess grand masters isn't the amount of moves they can imagine in a given period of time, but that the grand masters are better at "falsity". Rather than thinking, "Hey, that's a great idea I just came up with", their initial reaction is always suspicion.

I mention all of this nerdy stuff because there's a heck of a lot of treatment, both here and on ESPN, as though the numbers published in the Wells Report* are right simply because they were published first (or because you want to believe the Cheatriots are paters). Can we all acknowledge one thing? That when Wells defended himself, he looked like a complete kiddy diddling pervert with that mustache and rain coat?

* They're "chemistry homework" (where someone knew the answer they wanted and then made the proof fit) and Brady will do 0 time after the inevitable law suit and a real judge laughs the thing out of court.
Because Robert Kraft bought the judge.

posted by yerfatma at 06:10 PM on May 15

an inviolable law of physics?

Are you basing your opinions on Robert Kraft's associate's initial explanation of physics or have you researched what scientific experts have presented?

Every reputable source of information points out that science proves the Patriots explanation as not possible.

posted by cixelsyd at 07:19 PM on May 15

Every reputable source of information points out that science proves the Patriots explanation as not possible.

Including the Nobel Laureate in the Patriots' retort? Are you saying that he's not reputable?

Apologies for my typical mashup of a bunch of thoughts in my head without actually expressing things well. Let me ask this: can we all agree or explain where we disagree with this:

The report's math depends on the idea Walt Anderson remembers the pressure of a dozen footballs to a significant digit (because he did not write it down) but that he does not remember which of two very physically different gauges he used to come to those readings.

Is that a shared fact or does it only exist in the reality we as Patriots fans are coming from?

posted by yerfatma at 07:25 PM on May 15

Cheers to all who have helped get us to the comment benchmark we have now reached, which is formally known as a Half Sandusky.

posted by beaverboard at 07:38 PM on May 15

It doesn't count! You changed the outcome by observing it!

posted by Etrigan at 09:09 PM on May 15

So a 4-game suspension, million dollar fine, and a 1st and 3rd round pick because of an inviolable law of physics?

My comment was narrow in scope, covering only one issue: Was a rule broken?

You said there's no scientific proof a rule was broken. To me, game officials measuring the pressure of 11 footballs at halftime and finding all 11 under 12.5 is scientific proof.

I've argued since the scandal unfolded that the NFL should have just punished for the obvious infraction without getting into intent. Intent is where the issue becomes a huge scandal and grows tentacles. Intent is where Tom Brady looks evasive and possibly dishonest.

The NFL has the authority to decide if a rule is broken -- to whatever standard of proof it desires, even just "more probable than not" -- and punish accordingly. It doesn't have to consider the Ideal Gas Law or any other nuance the Patriots are using to win in the court of public opinion.

We trust the zebras to decide playoff games. The Cowboys lost one because Dez Bryant's catch was considered a single football move instead of two. Why can't we trust the zebras to measure 11 footballs and determine a rule was broken? Why does this have to be so complicated that scientists are being asked about the Ideal Gas Law? Wouldn't it be special treatment for the Patriots to have the league declare "we know the rule was broken for all 11 Patriots footballs, we know Patriots officials talked about ball deflation, we know the balls were taken to a bathroom for enough time to deflate them, but scientists say that the deflation could in theory be accidental -- even though the accident didn't happen to four Colts footballs -- so we won't punish the team"?

That doesn't seem unreasonable to you?

The punishment is for more than the balls being under 12.5, per the league's announcement. It's for that offense, for Brady's non-cooperation, for the team's non-cooperation about McNally and for a repeat offense after Spygate [1].

Even with all that, it was more harsh than I expected. I thought it would be around $250,000 and two second rounders. But I didn't know Brady would refuse to cooperate fully with the investigation's request for relevant texts and messages, and I didn't know the team would refuse to make McNally available for a second interview expected by the league.

Those are pretty serious violations of the league's authority to investigate potential rules infractions.

If the Patriots had self-reported the offense and/or the people involved admitted what they did right away, I think the punishment could have been as low as $25,000 and one fourth or fifth-round draft pick.

You want to believe the Patriots are completely innocent. Sorry, but I'm having trouble believing it. I'm open to hearing evidence of ill will coming from Goodell, because I have a low opinion of how he runs things. But absent that, I found enough in the Wells report to be credible and persuasive.

1. Before anyone makes a big deal out of the last part, I think it was unfair for the NFL to factor Spygate into the punishment.

posted by rcade at 09:34 PM on May 15

I didn't know the team would refuse to make McNally available for a second interview expected by the league.

5th, not 2nd. The Patriots claim they cut the league off because McNally's name had been leaked and reporters were showing up to his home. Ted Welles claims he needed the 5th interview because he didn't notice the word "DEFLATOR" in text messages the first 4 times. If you can decide who is less of an idiot in that debate, I will call you King Solomon and bow my head.

Can we settle that one as a fact between parties? Was McNally interviewed 4 times or 1 time?

Wouldn't it be special treatment for the Patriots to have the league declare "we know the rule was broken for all 11 Patriots footballs, we know Patriots officials talked about ball deflation, we know the balls were taken to a bathroom for enough time to deflate them, but scientists say that the deflation could in theory be accidental -- even though the accident didn't happen to four Colts footballs -- so we won't punish the team"?

Only if that's what happened. What if nothing untoward actually happened to the Patriots' footballs and the league tried to invent it to save face 3 months later?

posted by yerfatma at 10:35 PM on May 15

I think I can settle that.

McNally was not interviewed four times by the investigative team for the Wells report. He was interviewed once as part of that investigation. The other interviews were presumably all from before the investigation commenced.

So when the Wells report states this ...

"Although we requested a follow-up interview of Jim McNally after our initial interview, counsel for the Patriots refused our request."

... they're talking solely about their own interviews.

I think the Patriots had an obligation under NFL rules to make their staffers and Brady available for as many interviews as Wells wanted, within reason. An initial interview and a follow-up seems perfectly reasonable to me.

What if nothing untoward actually happened to the Patriots' footballs and the league tried to invent it to save face 3 months later?

From the Wells report:

Following the game, before he left the stadium, McNally was interviewed by members of NFL Security. During that interview, McNally did not mention that he had taken the game balls into the bathroom. Instead, he stated that he walked directly to the field and that nothing unusual occurred during the walk from the locker room to the field.
If nothing untoward happened, why did McNally lie about taking the balls into the bathroom before video evidence emerged that caught him doing this?

posted by rcade at 10:46 PM on May 15

can we all agree or explain where we disagree with this

The NFL must have a respected commissioner.

What if

Roger Goodell and Robert Kraft got together and agreed to resolve the issue internally.

The Patriots acknowledge breaking a rule that had zero impact on the outcome of a game that the offense was detected in. The NFL issues a fine and decides to review how relevant the rule is going forward.

Goodell (finally) comes across as a respected leader, and the Patriots a class organization and deserving champion.

No Wells report, no fake science, no fat guy nicknamed "the deflator".

posted by cixelsyd at 01:14 AM on May 16

posted by rcade at 12:23 PM on May 16

Those NY tabloid guys are such clever wordsmiths. Not sure what kept them from going with "Boston Schlong" on the back page to create an enhanced sense of thematic unity and symmetry.

This is why I refuse to go to that remote topless beach in the Aegean with the Duchess of Cambridge. The captioning that accompanied the drone photos would wreck the health of my elderly relatives.

posted by beaverboard at 08:22 PM on May 16

He was interviewed once as part of that investigation.

Thanks, I misunderstood that.

posted by yerfatma at 07:30 PM on May 18

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