Deflategate is officially a world issue. There are rumours it will be brought up at the next G7 summit. Thanks Tom, as if Gisele Bündchen didn’t get enough attention. And didn’t you just win a fourth ring? Please.
A sport that has become saturated in the United States and over the course of a year wrapped in negative headlines has replaced global warming as the dominant focus everyone must either debate or be forced to hear about. Some of the NFL’s players have been involved in a wrath of violence against women, alcohol abuse and petty contract squabbles – as if $21m annually isn’t enough – but these crimes have been replaced by a seven-month-and-counting saga about footballs that had less air in them than the NFL requires. And as we know the NFL is a pioneer for integrity and honesty. Excuse my loud cough that can be heard through this text.
Has the NFL reached importance in enough of the world for it to worry so much about protecting ‘the shield’? Here’s something on that lovely shield; it’s shattered. For we love American football, unless of course you think it’s too violent, ‘slower than Test cricket’ or is played by overweight and unathletic wussies in pads (I hasten to add that it’s not). But, it is seemingly always on a rage against the negative PR machine. Post-Ray Rice it has been spitting out more and more bad bullets and Roger Goodell has let it be known by upholding Tom Brady’s four-game suspension that every decision from here on in is driven more by ‘what makes the league look better’ than ‘what is logical and smart’.
Smart would have been to put this under wraps on the day it was reported by ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that ‘11 of the 12 balls’ the Patriots used in their convincing – hugely convincing – AFC Championship victory against the Colts last January. And yes, Brady has been to the playoffs in 11 of his 12 seasons with New England. Perfect symmetry. Of course only because he deflated the footballs. No one else in the league does it, right Aaron?
I don’t want to sound pro-Brady. There might be a poster of him above my bed, which most will consider legally wrong considering I am male and Gisele could just as easily be acquired, and I am acutely aware that neither the quarterback nor the NFL looks good after this. Goodell will never look good again, aside from his wallet, because of the decisions he has made in the last 12 months but going back to that fateful day the Colts complained, all the Commissioner had to do was phone Robert Kraft and insist whatever the team were up to, they should stop right away and dodge an issue that didn’t need to go public.
Failing that, Brady could and should have announced before the Superbowl that he prefers the PSI of his balls as low as possible, and while he was aware that his assistants attempted to help in this regard, was unaware of any needles and bathrooms being part of the master plan. Brady gets fined, the Patriots are still detested nationwide and we can all move on.
Not to be.
Since the ban was upheld by Mr. Goodell, or Mr. Commissioner (I prefer Big Time Rog), some funny headlines: Jerry Jones, owner and general manager (in no particular order) of the Dallas Cowboys, spoke at a press conference during training camp and despite not being asked or guided towards the topic he was set to thrive on, said definitively that Roger Goodell is a great Commissioner and is doing a great job in the role. I hasten to add a role that pays him $40m a year, and a lot of his hard work is to secure millions and millions to said owners. Of course Jerry is happy. Cheers Rog!
Are the NFL in danger of throwing one of their greatest ever players under the bus? They’ve already done it. No wonder Brady will end up sailing into the sunset after his retirement with two fingers pointed at ‘the shield’. That damn shield, it’s even getting too many mentions in an article that won’t even be read.
Brady is being exposed for destroying his cell phone, but despite an agreement that nothing would be leaked – the main reason Brady wouldn’t give up his personal phone in the first place – the NFL are now saying Brady had 10,000 text messages on his device. And how did they know this? Sounds like a seek and leak to me. Listen, Brady’s business is his own and under the CBA, he doesn’t even have to give it up. Yet the league have leveraged this ‘piece of evidence’ to win the PR battle, to look good in what has been a sorry mess. Except they don’t look good. As fans of any sport, we don’t want suspicion to seep into the game; it threatens to create a negative atmosphere and one that can never be trusted.
Training camp is open and all we want as fans is football again. If Brady is innocent, ‘the deflator’ has to be the most coincidental nickname of all time. Either way, he will be booed in 31 stadiums this season. Goodell in 32.
We’re all deflated. Let’s just get back to playing and watching football.