Tuesday, May 12, 2015

NFL justice: Brady 4 games for deflated footballs, Stallworth 6 games for killing a man while driving drunk.

If anyone needs more proof that the NFL is run by a bunch of cases of arrested development look no further than the penalty handed to Tom Brady over playing one half of football with a ball 1 lb  per square inch less than league rules.

And if anyone needs more proof that carrying a press pass is almost a guarantee of failing an intelligence test , look no further than the reaction of the news media especially sportswriters for what Rachel Nichols a sports analyst for CNN ( does anybody really need a sports analyst?) referred to as Brady "cheating", a word she used  about 8 times in one CNN segment on Brady's punishment.

First the punishment itself. Brady's 4 game suspension and the other sanctions against New England had everything to do with Ray Rice and nothing to do with Tom Brady. Roger Goodell left to his own devices suspended Ray Rice for 2 games for punching his wife out in a hotel elevator and knocking her out cold. For that he was handed two games. As everyone knows there was a hue and cry about the leniency of the suspension and Goodell, being a politician if nothing else would have upped the penalty to expulsion to Madagascar if could but instead suspended him for the season  before an arbitrator stepped in and reinstated Rice.

If Brady was handed 4 games for an under inflated football and Rice was given 2 games for punching out his wife imagine what Goodell would have given  Brady if he had punched out a football.

But the real hypocrisy of Brady's ridiculous suspension over breaking a minor  and trivial rule during one half of a football game  is  how Goodell and the NFL handled the 2009 case of Dante Stallworth, a wide receiver at the time for the Cleveland Browns and who eventually became Brady's teammate with the Pats. 

Stallworth had been doing some hard partying at the Fountainbleu Hotel in Miami. Stallworth left the hotel after partying and drinking all night and at 7:10 a.m. driving  his  Bentley stone  drunk and over the speed limit hit and killed Mario Reyes, a 59 year old construction worker who was crossing the street to catch a bus to get to work.

Stallworth's blood alcohol level was 1.26. Florida's legal limit was 0.08.

In a plea bargain with the Miami DA  that should've drawn outrage everywhere and showed the kind of special treatment professional athletes get, Stallworth pled guilty to both driving drunk and vehicular manslaughter. His sentence was 30 days in jail and 250 hours of community service. For killing a man while driving drunk.

What was the reaction of Roger Goodell and the NFL?

Goodell and the  NFL put out a statement that said, " the NFL will review the matter for possible disciplinary action".

Possible disciplinary action. Possible. Like maybe. For killing a man while speeding and driving drunk. 

Goodell made one thing very clear.  Drive drunk, speed and kill a man and it just might get you into hot water with  the NFL. And it did. Goodell  got tough and hit Stallworth with a suspension that added up to 6 games.  Six games. For killing a man while driving drunk.  So you can understand how Brady gets 4 games for playing one half with a slightly deflated football.

In giving Stallworth six games and Brady 4 games Goodell made a very passionate  and socially significant statement : Footballs Matter.

As for the actual infraction by Brady and the absurd reaction of many in the news media or anyone who thinks Brady was " cheating" there is a difference between cheating and breaking a rule.

Cheating is when you get an unfair advantage over an opponent to win when you otherwise couldn't.  The under inflated footballs did none of that. The Atlanta Falcons were caught piping in extra loud canned crowd noise during a game to keep the opposing team from hearing its signals. That was cheating. Playing one half of a football game with a slightly under inflated football wasn't.

It had no effect on the outcome of the game against the Colts which the Patriots won 38-7 .  Brady's playing the first half with an under inflated ball had nothing to do with Andrew Luck not being able to put up more than 7 points against the Pats defense the whole game. And Brady's stats were as good if not better in the second half with the football inflated to league rules as he was in the first half.  His stats in the Super Bowl win over Seattle using the Roger Goodell approved inflated football was what Brady has been doing his whole career.  Yet Brady's suspension was the same as players get for using PED's. Which is absurd . There was nothing about those footballs that enhanced Brady's performance . 

Add to that the NFL cited past violations of the Pats which had nothing to do with Brady for the harshness of the penalties so the 4 game suspension doesn't pass the smell test. 

There are a lot of rules in the NFL.  Sometimes officials inadvertantly break them or get them wrong and it does effect the outcome of the game and a team loses when it shouldn't . Then the NFL apologizes but no one gets suspended.  There are NFL rules that state how long a players cleats can be. There are rules about having to have your jersey tucked in which no one seems to care about. There are known instances of running backs smearing Vaseline on themselves and their uniforms to make them harder to tackle.  

There is breaking rules , or not adhering to a rule and there is cheating. And they are not always the same.  For one half of a football game a rule was not adhered to. But it wasn't cheating in that it didn't give Brady or the Pats an unfair advantage that enabled them to win the game when they otherwise couldn't or give Brady the ability to do something he couldn't normally do. And the proof of that is not only the score but by looking at the converse.

If  Brady had an advantage using a football inflated to only 11 lbs per square inch instead of the 12.6 which is regulation, then you have to believe that every quarterback in professional football now and for as long as that inflation rule has been in effect has been at a disadvantage throwing a football inflated to  12.6 lbs per square inch and that the NFL intentionally wanted to make it harder to throw a football because they want to make it harder for NFL quarterbacks to throw with accuracy or velocity or touch. Deflate the ball to 11 lbs per square inch and anybody could do it, right? Easy. 

If you believe the NFL wants to intentionally put QB's at a disadvantage with that inflation rule because they're trying to hold down scoring or adversely affect a QB's performance, you should ask Goodell for a job.

If 12.6 doesn't put QB's at a disadvantage then 11.6 doesn't give a quarterback an advantage. 

Bill Poulian the former GM for the Colts and now an analyst at ESPN who unlike most talking sports heads actually knows what he is talking about said that the biggest advantage in using an under inflated football is that it's less like to be fumbled. And that would give an unfair advantage to a running back or reciever after they caught the ball. Or an advantage to a QB holding the ball during a sack. And that makes sense.

But that is not Brady cheating throwing the football. Rule breaking , yes, cheating no.  So fine the Pats for using the under inflated football for a half since a rule is a rule and there should be some consequences and fire the two equipment guys. But what Goodell handed down for the offense especially compared to suspensions given Rice and Stallworth is absurd. 

When an arbiter hears the case there is no doubt Brady's suspension will be reduced to 2 games at the most. The real punishment should be suspending Brady for the first half of one game which is equal to the one half played with the under inflated football.  And maybe that 4th round draft choice for the Pats. And some meal money. And a warning. And that's it. Instead of Goodell trying to get tough over nothing and trying to kill the Patriots season, which to Goodell as we have seen in the case of Dante Stallworth, seems to be worth more than a man's life. 

NOTE: Goodell's decision not to allow Brady's appeal to be heard by an independent arbiter and instead will hear the appeal himself tells everyone all they need to know about how valid Goodell thinks the suspension is. And how much he's afraid of being embarrassed again. 

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