Roger Goodell doubled down on dumb. The commissioner consistently plays bad hands this way. People losing the house’s rather than their own money often do.
The scandal of Roger Goodell sticking with stupid does not involve his disbelief of a by-any-means-possible winner in Tom Brady. It pertains to the commissioner’s bizarre disregard for the testimony of the man the league entrusted to referee the AFC Championship Game. That, and that alone, stands as the primary factor that overturns the commissioner’s Tuesday decision to uphold his four-game suspension of the New England Patriots quarterback.
Dozens of reasons exist for overturning Tom Brady’s suspension based on a report describing the quarterback as “generally aware” of a “more probable than not” scheme to deflate balls.
The league, accustomed to making it up as it goes along—as its multiple punishments for Ray Rice show—metes out a $25,000 fine for ball tampering (not a four-game suspension) according to its rules. The American Enterprise Institute finding, that “the Colts ball pressure dropped too little rather than…the Patriots ball pressure dropped too much” after the officials measured four Colts balls in a warm locker room following the testing of 11 Patriots balls that came immediately from the cold, did not dissuade Goodell. Nor did Ted Wells imposing a one-size-fits-all pressure level on the Patriots balls despite the admission by the game’s referee that the pre-game measurements varied somewhat and remained unrecorded on both a specific ball-by-ball basis and even in a general sense.
The only reason that really matters here centers on Ted Wells, and Roger Goodell after him, choosing not only to dismiss the testimony of Referee Walt Anderson on what gauge he used prior to the game, but to rest the case on the very opposite of his recollection. The Wells Report offers no reason for this bizarre fact-finding approach that collects testimony only to present the opposite as truth. This leaves readers of the Wells Report to conclude that the NFL came to a guilty verdict and then reverse-engineered an investigation to support that judgment.
Walt Anderson, a referee entering his twentieth season in the league, offered his “best recollection”—a recollection that Wells and Goodell rely on elsewhere when it suits their purposes—that he used the “Logo Gauge” with “the long, crooked needle” to test balls before the game. Why does this matter? Because the scientists employed by Wells found that gauge to consistently provide higher readings than the second available gauge. Using it as a baseline puts eight of the eleven balls measured at halftime precisely at or above the range where the scientists employed by Wells told him that properly inflated balls would deflate to by halftime because of the Ideal Gas Law.
Despite Anderson telling Wells that he used the Logo Gauge, Wells tells readers of his report: “Walt Anderson most likely used the Non-Logo Gauge to inspect the game balls prior to the game.” Say what?
In a kangaroo court, judge-prosecutors employ exonerating evidence as incriminating evidence. In a real court, end-arounds on justice rarely get past the line of scrimmage.
The New England Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 in the AFC Championship Game. Expect a similar blowout victory in court for Tom Brady.