By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The football season has begun. Future Hall of Famer Tom Brady isn’t taking part.
The why of Brady’s absence remains a bit of a mystery, considering no player in the history of sport has ever been suspended for what was at worst a loose connection to a flimsily investigated minor offense. Nevertheless, Tom Brady vs. Roger Goodell turned into a labor battle for the ages, with the NFL commissioner ultimately coming out on top.
Still, for a hyper-PR-conscious league, having an all-time great on the sidelines with the label of “CHEATER” branded across his forehead might not be considered ideal for business.
Unless, of course, you’re Roger Goodell.
The commissioner sat down with a hand-picked interviewer in Matt Lauer and was asked if he’s 100 percent satisfied with the results of “DeflateGate.”
“Yes,” Goodell replied quickly, per Pro Football Talk.
No surprise there, but that wasn’t enough for Goodell, who felt compelled to trumpet the dishonest claims he’s been making all long since January 2015.
“We went through a very exhausting process with this. We had an independent investigation,” Goodell claimed.
If it weren’t so outrageous, it’d be hysterical.
The investigation was never independent. The NFL stopped trying to make that claim in court when it was clear how compromised the “investigation” was from the start. But now that they came away with the win, “Operation: Independent” is back on.
Here’s the real deal with the “investigation.” The NFL paid Ted Wells millions of dollars to appear thorough. The “investigation” was born out of a presumption of guilt. It never once looked into or addressed into illicit behavior by NFL employees. It was dead-set on assigning guilt from the start, and it managed to do so despite a lack of damning evidence. The best it could prove was that a locker room attendant called himself “The Deflator” many months before the AFC Championship Game. Fact is, nothing was ever proven about the AFC Championship Game, which was what the “investigation” set out to find.
The “independent” “investigation” was also co-authored by Jeff Pash, who happens to be the NFL’s executive vice president and general counsel.
It was “independent,” though.
Goodell continued the 2016 Fraudulence Kickoff Tour with this one: “Every player, every team, is subject to the same rules. We don’t have rules for marquee players and we don’t have rules for marquee teams.”
You know the response to this one by now. The Chargers used a stickum towel and faced no real punishments. Ball boys in a frigid Minnesota warmed footballs on TV. No punishments. Just a warning.
And just this past month, when the team owned by staunch Goodell supporter John Mara employed a player who had been arrested for domestic violence, Goodell managed to make sure the mandatory six-game suspension was dropped all the way down to one game. The NFL offered zero explanation for why 83 percent of the mandatory punishment was taken away.
Alas, Roger Goodell won, and he’s now back to saying whatever it is he’d like to say about DeflateGate. He did it before, after the Second Circuit overturned Judge Richard Berman’s decision, so he was absolutely a surefire bet to take another stroll down The Avenue Of Lies now that he gets to see Brady squirm while missing four real NFL games.
Sorry, Tom, but this is ol’ Rog’s league. Like every other player in the NFL, you just don’t matter anymore.