Monday, May 11, 2015

Tom Brady's Deflategate Punishment? Eight Game Suspension - No Pay!

New England Patriots' "golden boy" Tom Brady, was like a king holding court at Salem State University - the audience full of mindless Patsy homers  and groupies. Typical reactions from these goobers: "He did nothing wrong!" and "This is a conspiracy between the NFL and the Colts!" Right, well hopefully most of those making such claims haven't received degrees.

Alas, the stage setting was not conducive to hard questions by interviewer Jim Gray (who acknowledged the event was scheduled before the Ted Wells report came out), what with random shouts of "We love ya Tommy!" and "We know you're innocent!" ringing out. But Gray, to his credit, at least tried his best.

He noted "there is an in the elephant room " - to which Brady popped, "Where?" And Gray retorted, "You may be the only one that doesn't see it."

When Gray added "You're in the news here, and the Ted Wells report has just been released", the crowd delivered a trademark chorus of homer-style  boos -  acknowledging for any doubters that they were dedicated to denial. Hear no evil, see no evil, and acknowledge no evil.

When Gray asked Brady for his reaction to the report, numerous bobble-headed mutts yelped "Who cares?" laced with other epithets mainly preceded by Fs. Meanwhile, Brady flashed his typical shit-eating grin and said "See,  I can't usually say those things".

When he finally settled down he said "I don't have any reaction since it's only been thirty hours and I haven't had a chance to digest it fully. But when I do I'll be sure to get back to you."

Great escape hatch!  But most of us aren't buying.

One of the Homer Boston Globe sports writers added to those egregious takes, telling anchor Chris Hayes: "Most of us think this is the greatest story about nothing ever."

Well, of course they would, the same as Warren Commission diehard groupies would be convinced any evidence for conspiracy in the Kennedy assassination is the "greatest story about nothing ever".

Why would they believe otherwise with luminaries like Vince Bugliosi and Gerald Posner brainwashing them that way?

But let's return to deflategate. As I noted in a Jan. 22 blog post, this dismissive attitude uncovers an ethical blind spot in too many who also spout nonsense such as:

Cripes! Big deal! The Patriots killed them 45 to 7 ! So without the tampering maybe it would have been 45-14. Who cares?".

Which totally misses the central point:  cheating to gain an unfair advantage irrespective of the outcome, while destroying the integrity of the game itself - risking fan alienation similar to the PED effects in major league baseball.   It doesn't matter if the final score was 70-7 or even  200-7, it is the principle  and the intention that we are about here.  Did it break a rule or not? If it did it demands a sanction.

Other claims aggregate around the:  "It was just gamesmanship,  not cheating" trope. Somehow merely changing the word to a euphemism renders the nefarious act innocuous.  The cheaters thereby become merely winners in disguise if they're  prepared to use their talents in innovative ways.

Those who peddle the gamesmanship meme are so inured to PR and media junk food, they are no longer able to discern flatulence from significance. They can no longer see principles - other than as expedient hostages to money and profits that accumulate for "winners".  No thought of how the integrity of the game  has been seriously been eroded. Further, what's the message to students, for example?  That cheating is ok just as long as they think of it as "gamesmanship".  I can take this illegal calculator into my trig class when it is explicitly forbidden.

"I ain't cheatin' just gamin' the system!"

This brings us to the penalty the NFL ought to level on Brady after finding, via the Wells report, that he "probably knew about the deflated footballs".  One sportscaster interviewed last week on CBS Early Show didn't mince words, asserting a mere fine would be a joke. "He could pay a hundred thousand fine right out of his pocket!" 

He stated that a suspension would be the only penalty worth anything, and indicated all eyes will be on the NFL to see whether they treat if flippantly - like Brady and his Patsy homers at Salem State - or seriously as a threat to the game's integrity.

What magnitude of suspension? He said "eight games" or half the season, with which I agree.  ESPN's Keith Olbermann didn't hold back while airing his grievances against Tom Brady last Thursday, saying the Super Bowl-winning quarterback should be suspended a year for his role in Deflategate and his mishandling of the scandal.

"They need to suspend Tom Brady for a year -- one day for the inflation, 364 days for everything else," he said in his commentary during his ESPN2 program. "Everything else" would encompass Brady's refusal to turn over emails, text messages, as well as his flippant takes including before (media day)  and after the SuperBowl.

Olbermann earlier zeroed in on the "innocent until proven guilty" defense of Brady's father:

"In a courtroom you're innocent until proven guilty. Everywhere else, like in a private company like the National Football League, or even in a government, 'probable' is plenty. Ask Richard Nixon. Ask Dan Rather. Ask Pete Rose."


But will the NFL deliver a serious punishment, even after venerable Dolphins' coach Don Shula weighed in on how bad the deflategate  perfidy was - saying his perfect 17-0  (1972) team never had to resort to such hijinks?

I don't know. But whether that happens or not, New England's legacy will be tainted as will Tom Brady's - the same way Barry Bonds' legacy has been. (With an asterisk * beside his home run record).   This is the lesson that needs to be brought home to the kids who follow football, as well as other sports. 

Cheating never pays!

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