SPORTS SQUIB | Weak Hands, Soft Balls and Broken Cellphones

By Gus Jarvis | Montrose

As if it’s really any surprise to most of us living outside the greater New England area, douchedom still reigns supreme within the New England Patriots organization.

Really, who needs Judge Judy on a boring and hot July afternoon when we have N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell, Patriots owner Robert Kraft and pretty boy Tom Brady to keep us entertained with ever-juicy drama? I certainly know I’ve been fully entertained with the Patriots involvement in Deflategate. The plot keeps getting better and better – so good it’s nearly shadowed the fact that the Patriots won last year’s Super Bowl.

Before we get into the latest on Deflategate and Brady’s weak hands, we must first refresh our understanding of the New England Patriots organization under the leadership of head coach Bill Belichick. Under Lord Voldemort, the Patriots have had seemingly unquenchable thirst for cheating, or at least bending the rules as far as they can go.

We all remember Spygate in 2007 when Belichick and the boys were caught videotaping coaches’ signals on the New York Jets sideline. Belichick was fined $500,000, the team was fined $250,000 and the Patriots lost its first-round draft pick in 2008. Nobody really knows how long the Patriots had been videotaping opponents’ signals illegally. (Ask Marshall Faulk about stolen signals against the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. Or the Steelers’ James Harrison in 2004 about stolen linebacker signals in AFC Championship game.)

Let us also not forget the Patriots-cheating-stank Josh McDaniels put on the Denver Broncos back in 2010 when he was fined $50,000 by the N.F.L. for having a team assistant videotape a 49ers pregame walk-through. McDaniels, if you recall, served as offensive coordinator under Belichick before his short-lived and failed attempt as a head coach in Denver. McDaniels is now, of course, standing back under Belichick’s dark cape in New England.

It’s accurate to say that Belichick and the Patriots like a rigged game. They’ve been doing it for years. Even Darrelle Revis, who won a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots last year before going to the Jets, admits the Patriots history is clouded in rule bending.

“New England’s been doing stuff in the past and getting in trouble,” Revis told The New York Daily News. “When stuff repeatedly happens, then that’s it. I don’t know what else to tell you. Stuff repeatedly happens through the years. You got SpyGate, you got this and that and everything else.”

Fast-forward to last year’s AFC Championship Game – the now notorious Deflategate game – where the Patriots beat the Colts using under-inflated game balls as an advantage in poor weather conditions. I must admit, when I first heard about the use of under-inflated game balls as an advantage, I thought it was a crazy allegation. I mean really, a few p.s.i.’s lower than a ball is supposed to be will give you an advantage?

Well, when you put Belichick’s cheating history, the cold and wet conditions during the game, Brady’s soft and weak hands, and the fact that the N.F.L. has a rule in place that dictates the pressure footballs must be inflated to, it all starts to stink like the Patriots brand of football.

And Goodell thought it stunk right away as well when he handed Brady a four-game suspension to begin the 2015 N.F.L. season. Goodell also handed the Patriots a $1 million fine and the loss of its first-round pick in this year’s draft. Brady, the National Football League Players Association and the Patriots appealed Goodell’s ruling hoping that if Brady cooperated with the league-hired investigator/arbiter Ted Wells, his suspension would either be dropped or shortened.

On Tuesday, Goodell, to the surprise of many, announced that despite Brady’s appeal in the matter, he would uphold his four-game suspension because, well, Brady didn’t exactly cooperate in the Wells investigation. How so? Drumroll please. Because Brady destroyed his cell phone – evidence (texts) Wells sought in his investigation.

Wells wanted to see what kind of communication Brady had with the Patriots equipment staff prior to the AFC Championship game – to see if Brady told two staff members with access to equipment to deflate the balls below the N.F.L. standard.

What did Brady do? Well, on the day he was set to meet with Wells, Brady destroyed his cell phone (to be accurate, Brady had his personal assistant destroy his cell phone because, as I have said numerous times, Brady has weak hands). Besides the texts that may have proven Brady’s involvement, the phone may also show frantic phone calls to those equipment managers days after the game when Deflategate began to gain traction.

Perhaps the most entertaining aspect of Brady’s destruction of his cellphone is that he not only destroyed it on the day of his meeting with Wells but after he destroyed it, he told them that’s how he always handles new cell phones. He destroys his old one when he gets a new one. The only catch is that Wells and investigators already had an old one he didn’t destroy.

Anyway, so why not just ask the two Patriots equipment managers what happened? Well, the N.F.L.P.A. told Wells that they were under no obligation to testify in the investigation so they didn’t. Silence.

I’d say Brady didn’t exactly cooperate with the Wells investigation. Neither did Goodell and that’s mainly why he upheld the four-game suspension earlier this week.

“Goodell said that the destruction of the cell phone was ‘very troubling,’” ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson wrote on on Wednesday. “He added that it was clear Brady made an ‘affirmative effort to conceal relevant evident to undermine the investigation.’”

Perhaps Brady should have just taken his punishment way back when before this thing spiraled out of control. Now he’s made a complete fool of himself with the cellphone debacle and he’s forcing Patriots owner Robert Kraft to ruin his good standing in the N.F.L. to defend him. (Seriously, if I were Kraft, I’d send Brady out to pasture. Who needs a quarterback who can’t throw a fully inflated ball anyway? Right?)

Brady’s not stopping now, however.

On Wednesday, the N.F.L.P.A. filed a lawsuit on behalf of Brady in Minnesota seeking to drop his suspension. It makes me wonder what’s next in this caper that gets juicer and juicer by the day. Perhaps there were threats on those texts? Why not? This made for TV series has already gone this far.

With whining owners, broken phones, silent equipment managers, and soft and weak hands ruling the sports airwaves these days I’ve almost forgotten that the Patriots won the last Super Bowl. Deflategate has amazingly spiraled out of control beyond any level I would have imagined.

Thank you, Tom Brady, for the welcome distraction. Thank you.

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About the Author

Gus Jarvis


Gus Jarvis is a journalist, writer, bloviator at large and co-editor of the San Juan Independent.