BOSTON (CBS) — If Roger Goodell had his way, Tom Brady would still be serving his suspension, eligible to return after the Patriots’ game on Sunday in Dallas.
But of course, Goodell did not get his way, thanks to the ruling of U.S. District Judge Richard Berman. Goodell and the NFL lost in federal court, as Berman vacated the four-game suspension.
Goodell has not spoken publicly too much since the ruling came down in early September, but he was asked on Wednesday at the owner meetings in New York if he has any regrets about the way he and the league acted throughout the entire “DeflateGate” saga.
Goodell answered with a definitive “no.”
“I have a lot of respect and admiration for Tom. I know him personally,” Goodell said. “As I say, I admire him tremendously. He is a future Hall of Fame player. But our rules apply to everybody. They apply to every single player. And every single player expects those rules to apply to everybody. Every coach does, every fan does, every partner, every team does.
“So our rules and the integrity of our game aren’t because someone’s popular or somebody’s a Super Bowl champ or not,” Goodell continued. “They’re to be applied evenly. Our teams expect that, and that’s our job. That’s our responsibility. That’s my job. And so, no I don’t regret that. And we will continue to uphold the integrity of the game and we’ll do that as vehemently as we can.”
For Goodell to continue to spout his “integrity of the game” nonsense after the drawn-out DeflateGate saga exposed him and his league office for a number of lies and dubious behavior behind the scenes is preposterous yet entirely predictable. Empty words like “integrity” have been a keystone of Goodell’s public representation of his league throughout the entire football fiasco, and not even a federal judge’s ruling can stop the commissioner from muttering them whenever a microphone is presented to his face.
In other Brady-related news, Goodell was asked if he’s comfortable with a player like Greg Hardy representing the NFL, given the comments made by the Cowboys player about women. Hardy, who’s coming off a four-game suspension after being convicted of assaulting a woman, said, “You seen [Brady’s] wife? I hope she comes to the game. I hope her sister comes to the game. [I hope] all her friends come to the game.”
Even though these comments have surfaced on every single major media outlet in the previous 24 hours, Goodell pleaded ignorance.
“I’m not aware of the comments, so I can’t respond to the comments because I haven’t seen it,” Goodell said. “But we have high standards in the NFL, and we expect people to follow them.”
Goodell then chose to praise all the great things that many NFL players do, thereby completely sidestepping a direct question.
You’ll remember that three years ago, Goodell declared that “ignorance was no excuse” for Sean Payton. But Goodell’s own rules do not ever apply to Goodell himself. For Goodell, ignorance is no excuse; it’s the way.
Before Goodell finished his press conference, he was asked what the NFL hopes to gain with the new protocols in place for measuring the air pressure of footballs, and he was also asked directly if those results will be published. Goodell not only chose to not answer the latter part of the question but tried to walk off the stage as the reporter pressed him again to answer.
“I think the most important thing we’re trying to ascertain is that the balls in play are within the regulations that were established. That’s the core of the issue, is protecting the integrity of the game and making sure that the game is played within the rules. We’re a game of rules, and the rules need to be followed by everyone. The number one objective there is to make sure that those rules are being followed,” Goodell said before taking a step to his right and looking off stage.
When pressed with the follow-up question, Goodell leaned into the microphone: “I don’t know.”
Of course not.
Obviously, if the halftime measurements of the PSI in footballs turns out to completely justify the Patriots’ claims that weather — and not shady ball boys — deflated those footballs in January, the NFL’s entire case will look like even more of an unjustified attack on the team and the quarterback.
A commissioner with true “integrity,” one who would be most interested in discovering what’s right instead of what makes him look the best, would plan on releasing the numbers no matter what the result may be. But as Goodell has made clear time and time again, he’ll wait to see what makes the league look best and then work to obfuscate on stage while spouting lines of “integrity” as often as possible.
And at the end of it all, he’ll have no regrets.