By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The first feathers have officially been ruffled in the wake of Robert Kraft’s amicus curiae brief being filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole reported that, “In talking to three NFL owners, they expressed extreme disappointment in fellow owner Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots for his letter of support on behalf of Tom Brady for Brady’s appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on his case between Brady and the NFL.”
Cole explained that the owners don’t believe Kraft was serious in filing the brief, that instead it was merely a symbolic gesture of support to appease the fan base and to appease Brady.
“They believe that Kraft did this as a publicity stunt,” Cole said of the anonymous team owners. “They don’t believe that he did this in any seriousness because it absolutely speaks to the ability of the commissioner to be able to discipline players, and it undercuts the collective bargaining agreement.”
(We’ll ignore the fact that all team owners are massive hypocrites and if they were fortunate enough to have employed a player of Tom Brady’s caliber for the past decade-and-a-half, they’d be doing the same thing.)
Cole went on to say this, where things get tricky:
“In other words, owners believe that if Kraft really believed that this was serious, that he would not have sent this letter in any way, shape or form. And because of that, they believe it’s disingenuous on his part, and that’s why they’re so disappointed in the actions of Patriots owner Robert Kraft this week.”
It’s an odd stance.
Certainly, if the owners believe that Kraft’s approval for such a court filing was merely for public relations purposes and that it doesn’t carry any real weight in court, then there is no harm done to the league. Which is to say — there’s nothing to be upset about.
Then there is the twisted logic that “if Kraft really believed that this was serious, that he would not have sent this letter.”
That doesn’t quite make any sense at all.
The Patriots have already filed the brief. It’s on the record. It accuses the commissioner of the league of running a corrupt arbitration system, one with a predetermined outcome that wasn’t based on facts. It is harsh, it holds nothing back, it supports the union, and it stands to weaken the NFL — if not in this particular case then certainly in future CBA negotiations leading up to the next inevitable lockout in 2020.
Speaking of which, Cole issued another report on Thursday, in which he said that commissioner Roger Goodell’s power to issue off-field discipline is expected to be on the table in some near-future discussions between the NFL and the NFLPA. That’s a story we’ve heard over the past few months, so it’s unlikely that much has changed in that standoff.
Nevertheless, the Patriots just provided a detailed, succinct breakdown of why Goodell is incompetent as an arbitrator and ill-equipped to continue in that type of role, especially considering he has no type of legal background whatsoever. It’s in writing and cannot be erased, and you can bet DeMaurice Smith and the NFLPA lawyers will have fresh copies in their briefcases whenever it’s time to sit down and talk business with the league.
If there are reasons for owners to be disappointed in Kraft, those reasons could only exist if Kraft was indeed serious. The firm, pointed language in that eight-page brief with the Second Circuit suggests that the team was certainly serious.