Mad Scientists, Crab Legs and Deflated Balls: Just Another Day in the NFL

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I am keenly aware that, during football season, at least one of my blog subscribers gets a little miffed when my weekly NFL recaps take the place of my more random and less testosterone laden posts.   I don’t mean to do it but, hey, I’m a football fan and a certain amount of brain damage comes with the territory.   I would, however, like to point out that the Super Bowl was well over three months ago and I don’t think I have even used the word football since then… until now of course.

I did not, for example, utter a single word when super stud runningback and child beater Adrian Peterson stated publically that he no longer wanted to play in Minnesota because he didn’t think the Vikings supported him enough during his time of need. Really? Just to refresh your memory, Peterson spent most of last season on the commissioner’s exempt list following his indictment on felony assault charges. All the Vikings did was kept him on the roster and paid him about a million bucks a week for not playing. I guess he wanted a fruit basket or something too. There was plenty I could have said on that subject but I held my tongue.

mad scientist 1I remained silent when Eagles head coach Chip Kelly put on his mad scientist hat and started making all sorts of crazy moves, including sending their best runningback and their best receiver packing. Kelly then traded his quarterback to the Rams in exchange for a guy who’s suffered a season-ending injury every season of his short career. That’s a risky move for sure, so he got himself a little insurance in the form of one Tim Tebow. The only knock on him is that he can’t throw. But hey, at least he’s healthy., which is a direct result of being unemployed. This all somehow fits into Chip Kelly’s master plan. What that plan might entail remains to be seen.

And most recently, mum was still my word when, prior to being drafted number one overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, quarterback Jameis Winston, who has already had more than his share of off the field issues, finally came clean about his crab legs. His story always smelled sort of fishy. The crab legs in question came from a Publix grocery store and, initially, Winston said he simply forgot to pay for them. He later claimed the roughly $40 worth of seafood was a “gift” from a friend. He hadn’t admitted that before because accepting that gift would have been a violation of NCAA rules. It’s stealing no matter how you slice it, and honesty clearly isn’t Winston’s strong suit either. Still, whatever he lacks in integrity he more than makes up for in tact…  or not. I mentioned that Winston was the top pick in the draft. He ate crab legs as his celebratory meal, took a picture and shared it with the world. I’m sure the Buccaneers are very happy with the new face of their franchise.

Those were all big stories in the NFL and, somewhat against my will, I managed to keep my comments to myself. Your welcome. And because I have shown such tremendous restraint, I’m now asking you to cut me a little slack . I need to say what’s on my mind before a stream of profanity starts leaking out of me like the air from a deflated football.  Yes, I’m referring to Tom Brady, the New England Patriots and the scandal commonly known as deflategate. Everyone else has thrown in their two cents and it’s my turn now.

Last Thursday, the results of a 243 page report were released to the world. That report proved or at least seemed to prove that three members of the Patriots organization were responsible for the eleven footballs that were underinflated prior to the AFC title game. Actually, the footballs were inflated properly and inspected and approved by league officials. Then, a little bit of air pressure was miraculously lost while the balls were in the Patriots’ possession. They blamed atmospheric conditions, even though a member of the equipment staff was caught on video surreptitiously taking the footballs into a bathroom and staying in there for over a minute and a half.   There’s no legitimate reason to do that and, following an independent investigation that lasted nearly three months, Tom Brady and two Patriots flunkies were found to be responsible. No one but Brady and the Patriots were surprised in the slightest.

 

By now, we’ve all seen the video of Tom, his stupid hat, his apple pie face and his gee wizz demeanor. It was all pretty nauseating and not believable in the slightest. Let’s be honest, though, athletes always try to bend the rules or at least push the limits. Did the softer footballs really make that much difference? It’s doubtful. New England won the game 42 to 7. If Brady had said “Yeah. I did it and I’m sorry.” He likely would have been fined about what he normally spends on lunch and that would have been the end of it. Instead, he denied ever knowing anything about anything. He lied through his perfect teeth and, once the investigation began, he was less than cooperative. He made himself, his team and the league look foolish. As they say, payback’s a bitch. Tom Brady has been suspended for four games. The Patriots were fined a million bucks. They also lost their first round draft pick in 2016 and their fourth round pick the following season. So much for a slap on the wrist. Of course, it doesn’t help that the Patriots last two Super Bowl wins were tarnished by the spygate scandal.

deflated footballThey say cheaters never win. It’s a lovely sentiment and has a nice positive message. Too bad it’s a crock of shit. Spygate, bountygate and deflategate account for four out of our last twelve Super Bowl champions. I guess that means cheaters only win 33% of the time, and that’s only assuming the other eight champs actually played by the rules.  Are you going to tell me David Tyree didn’t have stick-em slathered all over his helmet just in case he needed to make an incredible circus catch in the final minute of the game?

So case closed. The Patriots are cheaters. Can we please move on? Actually, no. Team owner Robert Kraft is all in on Tom Brady’s innocence. He’s betting the house, the car, his wife’s wedding ring and the family dog. Why? Because he knows Tom Terrific wouldn’t lie to him. Are you kidding? Take a good look at that mug. He’d lie to his own reflection. Kraft doesn’t want to believe that so he launched his own “independent” investigation and got results that were more to his liking. I wonder if that had anything to do with the fact that the investigator works for him.

Here’s the thing. Despite all the interviews, inquiries and information packed into Ted Wells’ lengthy report, Kraft says there is no “smoking gun.” Well no kidding. You can’t discretely deflate a football with a firearm and the Patriots are nothing if not subtle. But rather than coming to the obvious and logical conclusion that Tom Brady is not quite as pure as a New England snow storm, Kraft has been crafting all sorts of scenarios to explain away all the evidence.

In some incriminating text messages, one member of the equipment staff actually referred to himself as the deflater. Explanation? It’s totally obvious.  That was nothing more than an  innocent nickname related to his attempts to lose weight. Uh huh. Sell that one to the judge, and Kraft would have had to do just that if he and the Patriots decide to take their ridiculous claims all the way to the courts. Brady has already appealed his suspension. The Patriots could have done the same but have wisely chosen not to.  Backing down is NOT, however, an admission of guilt.

Robert Kraft is so adamant that he’s almost convincing… except for one small detail. When the Wells report was released, the NFL requested that those two staff members be suspended and the Patriots immediately obliged. Why? If Brady and the Patriots really did nothing wrong, why would they so willingly make two employees disappear? It’s also interesting that Brady himself has been conspicuously quiet. There’s your smoking gun.

 

If you like what you’ve read, please subscribe to this blog or my Turn the Page book reviews blog. You can also visit michaelsova.com, or find me on Facebook, and on Twitter @Micsova. Please pick up a copy of A SHOT AT REDEMPTION, my debut mystery novel.  

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