Lazy Saturday Reads: Will Roger Goodell’s Handling of #DeflateGate Be the Final Straw for NFL Owners? And Other News . . .Posted: January 31, 2015 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: #DeflateGate, Baltimore Ravens, Bill Belichick, Bountygate, cats, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, NFL, Robert Kraft, Roger Goodell, Super Bowl, Tom Brady, winter weather 10 Comments
I’m so tired of being cold. The Boston area tends to get a lot of snow–especially late in winter–but we rarely experience the frigid temperatures we’ve had this year. We usually get a lot of sun and temperatures in the 20-30+ range in the winter months. This year we have had many gloomy days in the teens and nighttime temperature in the single numbers. My house isn’t particularly well-insulated, and my furnace isn’t powerful enough to keep the house at 70 degrees when it’s that cold. Fortunately we enter February tomorrow and spring is on the way, even though it doesn’t feel like it yet.
On mornings like this one, I wish I could drape myself over a radiator and sleep for 16 hours a day like a cat. Honestly, I have to admit I’ve been taking a lot of catnaps lately to deal with a cold that isn’t all that bad but just keeps hanging on. Between that and following the buildup to the Super Bowl, I’ve been kind of ignoring politics for the time being. The 2016 race will begin to heat up soon enough, and the antics of the GOP Congress are just too depressing for me to want to know the gory details.
I haven’t written anything yet about the recent attacks on my beloved New England Patriots, but since it’s the Saturday before the Super Bowl, I’m going to write a little about it today.
I understand that most people around the country hate the Pats for the same reasons everyone hated the Yankees when I was a kid. They always seemed to be winning, and we got so sick of having to watch them in the World Series. Not to mention that their fans were unbearably arrogant and obnoxious. Growing up in the 1950s and ’60s, I learned to root for the underdog.
At the beginning of the football season this year, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was in hot water over the mild 2-game suspension he handed out to Ray Rice after the league learned that the Baltimore Ravens running back had punched his then-girlfriend Janay Palmer in the face in a Las Vegas elevator in February 2014, knocking her unconscious. Rice was arrested and charged with aggravated assault.
After video surfaced of the incident, Goodell turned around and suspended Rice indefinitely (this arbitrary decision was later overturned). After that the media began calling attention to other cases of domestic violence by NFL players, and many people called for Goodell to be fired. At the time, Patriots owner Robert Kraft was one of the few team owners to publicly support the commissioner. Goodell survived and the controversy died down temporarily.
Now Goodell has made an enemy of Kraft. Will a silly controversy about deflated footballs lead to Goodell’s final downfall? I’m not going to get into the details of “Deflate Gate,” but I’ve followed the story closely, and at this point I’m convinced that whole thing is ridiculous.
At first I was stunned by the accusations and then I began to believe that the Patriots must have done something wrong. But over time, I’ve concluded that the whole thing was a tempest in a teapot, and I’ve reached the point where I’m embracing the hatred and laughing about the whole thing.
I’m not a huge fan of the Super Bowl, but to me it seems stupid that this year’s game has been overshadowed by this ludicrous controversy. I think it’s time for Roger Goodell to go, and now that he has lost the support of one of the NFL’s most powerful owners–and one of Goodell’s bosses–it might actually happen. As former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue told CQ Magazine, Goodell doesn’t seem to understand the value of treating the players like adults and working for peace and understanding rather than enraging everyone.
Tagliabue also said that Goodell hasn’t spoken to him since the former commissioner vacated Goodell’s ridiculously over-the-top punishment of another winning team–the New Orleans Saints–for supposedly paying bounties to players for big hits during games in 2011. This practice was common around the league and none of the hits by Saints players had lead to serious injuries. Tagliabue felt that it was unfair to penalize one team so harshly for behavior that was widely tolerated around the league, and he overturned the punishment after Goodell asked him to review the case.
Why would the NFL commissioner want to tear down winning teams? It doesn’t make sense unless you understand that the NFL doesn’t like dynasties. Here’s a piece from the Bleacher Report from 2009 about another scandal involving the New England Patriots.
The Truth About Spygate: Punishing Success and Promoting Parity.
Excellence isn’t against NFL rules—at least not yet.
But, the league punishes success anyway.
They punish success to achieve parity among the teams. In theory, when more teams have a chance to win it all, the ratings are higher. That means more advertising dollars for the networks and bigger TV contracts for the league.
Twelve games into the season and your team has four wins and eight losses?
They still have a chance, just like the 2008 Chargers.
Current rules allow scenarios where nine win teams make the playoffs and go to Super Bowls, while 11 win teams miss the playoffs….
They don’t want dominant teams. They want mediocrity. They don’t want dynasties.
They want to spread the wealth.
So, the league punishes successful teams, hoping to weaken them, and rewards bad teams, hoping to strengthen them.
Read the rest of that article to learn why the Patriots were punished with a trumped-up scandal over something every other team was doing.
So far the strategy has worked with the Saints, but maybe they can still turn it around. I hope so. After “spygate,” the Patriots refused to lie down and die. They just kept winning, and Goodell and some other team owners and coaches resented it. I think Goodell’s ham-handed strategy for promoting parity is bullshit. There have to be other ways of doing it than ruining the NFL’s most important event–the Super Bowl–and humiliating players and coaches who have worked their asses off to achieve excellence.
Rhode Island sportswriter Tom E. Curran has followed the Patriots since the late 1990s. At the beginning of “deflategate,” he thought that the Pats had cheated, but he gradually learned that the NFL had zero evidence to show any wrongdoing by the team; and yesterday after Roger Goodell gave his “state of the NFL” speech, Curran wrote a scathing response.
Goodell Deflategate stance shows he’s a fraud.
Congrats, Roger. You successfully debased your marquee event.
You allowed one of your marquee franchises to be devalued.
You allowed the legacies of a Hall of Fame quarterback and coach to be battered.
You watched with disinterest as one of the league’s visionary owners and most influential proponents had his influence siphoned and his investment diminished.
Your NFL has bookended the 2014 season with two perfect embarrassments.
First, the wink, wink “investigation” into Ray Rice punching his fiancee into unconsciousness which exploded on the Monday morning after the season openers.
Now, a vindictive, self-important, spare-no-expense investigation into footballs being less than 12.5 PSI during the AFC Championship.
And there you were Friday, Roger, on a rainy morning in Phoenix – two days before the best two teams in the NFL will play a game that’s been terribly overshadowed – puffing out your chest.
Read about Curran’s evolution on the deflategate issue at the link.
Here’s his conclusion:
The NFL had to know it had no numbers written down before Monday dawned. But the leaks of leaky balls flowed. The NFL had a choice. Step up and say, “Look, this is standard stuff, we frequently do a review of procedures and we are not alleging any wrongdoing by anyone. We just have to make sure our footballs aren’t defective.” Or do nothing and let the whisper campaign turn into a full-throated, planetary roar that the Patriots are cheaters.
The NFL chose the latter.
And everybody’s paying for it.
The league itself. The players. The coaches. The fans.
The revenue streams keep cascading and because of that, Goodell’s 32 bosses can go to sleep every night knowing that, no matter how bad it gets, it will never slow to a trickle.
Still, he’s got to be congratulated for finding a way to let the Super Bowl be overshadowed. Seemed impossible.
The only thing that can save the week now will be the game itself. I think it will.
What will save the reputation of Roger Goodell? Nothing.
We’ll find out about the game tomorrow night. Goodell may stick around for a little while, but I think his goose is cooked.
I’ll end this diatribe with a hilarious video that finally dissolved all my resentment over what has happened over the past two weeks of deflate gate hype.
Now that I’ve bored you stiff with my obnoxious Boston fan routine, here are some other stories you may find interesting.
Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone: While Deflategate and Chaitgate Rage, America Quietly Robs Its Elderly.
NYT: Support Waning, Romney Decides Against 2016 Bid.
WaPo: Up to foot of snow possible for Midwest, Northeast.
OMG!! CNN: Mary Cheney: Why is drag ‘socially acceptable’ and blackface isn’t?
Raw Story: Drag queens respond to Mary Cheney’s question of why drag is acceptable if blackface isn’t
Reihan Salam at Slate: The Upper Middle Class Is Ruining America. And I want it to stop.
Michael Moore on Facebook: The Day Clint Eastwood Said He Would “Kill” Me, 10 Years Ago This Week.
Michael Schiavo at Politico: Jeb ‘Put Me Through Hell’.
Talking Points Memo: Jeb Bush’s Former Classmates Say He Was A Hash-Smoking Bully.
Nina Burleigh at Newsweek: What Silicon Valley Thinks of Women.
Talking Points Memo: The Sounds of Solidarity: Remembering Pete Seeger at Selma.
From The New Yorker, April 10, 1965: Letter from Selma, by Renata Adler.
RedOrbit via Raw Story: ‘Horrific’ pre-historic shark makes a rare appearance in Australian waters.
Georg Gray: Rare Historic Photos You’ll Never Forget.
What else is happening? Let us know in the comment thread and have a fabulous Super Bowl weekend!
Very good read this morning BB.
I totally agree with you about deflategate, it’s muchado about nothing!!!! The Patriots would have won that game if they had played it with a basketball. They were and they are the superior team. My thinking about spygate is much the same as deflategate, The Patriots were not doing anything that any other team doesn’t do or try to do. Stealing signals is common in professional sports and every sports fan and coach knows it. If you don’t believe it watch the offensive coordinators in football cover their mouth when they call the offensive plays. All teams try to get an edge. In baseball signal stealing is very common, as are things like illegally blocking bases by infielders and pitchers trying to make the ball tacky, sticky, sometimes resorting to spit and substances hidden on their uniform or on their body. I understand those things are against the rules, but they are all part and parcel of sports. I played basketball, softball and tennis. I wasn’t about to report myself to an official if I committed a foul on the basketball court. Is that cheating? I never told a net cord judge that my serve clipped the net, even though I knew from time to time that it did and that the judge had missed it. Was that cheating? Is a defensive back suppose to call pass interference on himself if the back judge misses the call? I don’t think so, but if people want to get picky, in the purest sense of the word to not do so is “cheating”. And everyone knows that most QB’s don’t want a football that is over-inflated, so who’s surprised that a football might be slightly underinflated? IMHO after the inflation of the footballs is done and they are examined by the officials, it should be the responsibility of the officials to make sure that the correct PSI is in the footballs. I expect to see a change in NFL rules this offseason where officials are spot checking football inflation during the game just like they spot check the athletes, often times as they are in the tunnel or coming onto the field, for use of illegal equipment or PED’s.
In the meantime I’ll be cheering for the PAT’s. Seattle is a great team and they certainly could win it all, but I want the AFC team to win.
The balls are the officials responsibility. If they are underinflated before the game, they are supposed to pump them up. But most likely they didn’t even measure the psi. They just handled the balls and certified them legal. The officials handle the balls between every play anyway, and they can throw them out the same way a baseball umpire does.
Seattle is a great team, and they could easily win. But if they play like they did against the Packers, the Pats will crush them. The funny thing is that the Seahawks have several players who have been caught using PED’s. They could have been the bad guys, but now they are the sweet little angles. That’s fine with me.
I hope the Pats are mad as hell and hit the Seahawks hard and often. I can’t wait for the game.
“But if they play like they did against the Packers, the Pats will crush them.”
I agree……The Seahawks win was more about luck than skill, the Packers were the better team. Still, I remember the old adage, “I’d rather be lucky than good” because to many times, especially in sports, that’s exactly how games are decided.
Great post BB! The Taibbi story and the Slate story were both great reads and I agree with every word.
Before Deflategate, I was gonna root for Seattle but now I want the Patriots to win.
Bill Simmons predicts what will happen next:
WTF is wrong with these parents? Your post this week, BB, just shows what idiots americans can be!
I just can’t believe it, especially since the fear of vaccinations is not based in any scientific evidence. This fear of vaccinations is two-fold. One is the fear of autism that many believe is caused by vaccinations.The second is the fear of the government using vaccinations to spread illness instead of stop illness. Both of these fears come from right wing nut jobs who make their living off of feeding fear and mistrust of the government to the gullible and ignorant. Sadly it’s working.
Here’s a SuperBowl commercial that will be airing Sunday in some markets where this retailer does business. Unfortunately it won’t be airing in my market, better known a bumfuckerville, but I still love it and I thought y’all might enjoy it too. Also thought y’all might enjoy giving it a viewing hit by watching.