By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — All of a sudden, the Patriots are getting support in their battle against Roger Goodell. First, it came from 10 anonymous executives around the league, but now it’s coming from a very high-profile name and face.
It’s coming from Drew Brees.
“I think we would all agree [Roger Goodell] definitely has too much power, that he is basically judge, jury, executioner when it comes to all league discipline,” Brees told SI Now. “I mean, listen, I’m not going to trust any league-led investigation when it comes to anything, because it’s not transparent. At times I feel like there’s a desired conclusion or agenda that they have in mind, and that prevents maybe the absolute truth from being told or the absolute facts from being presented. And at the end of the day, we as the public, we as players don’t ever really get to see that. We never get to see those facts, those truths, those things. So that’s the unfortunate part about this whole thing.”
Brees, of course, knows firsthand what it’s like to be at the receiving end of a league-run investigation, as his teammates and coaches felt the swift hammer of justice come down from Goodell over the “Bountygate” scandal of 2012. Goodell suspended head coach Sean Payton for a full season, suspended defensive coordinator Gregg Williams indefinitely, suspended general manager Mickey Loomis for eight games, and suspended assistant head coach Joe Vitt for six games. Goodell also suspended Jonathan Vilma for a full season, Anthony Hargrove for eight games, Will Smith for four games and Scott Fujita for three games.
Ultimately, former commissioner Paul Tagliabue was called upon to be the arbitrator, and he ruled to wipe away all of those players’ suspensions.
That history clearly still stings Brees when discussing Goodell and player discipline.
“Listen, it is what it is. I really don’t know the inner workings of how that’s been going over the last year. I thought — I think we all thought — it had passed, and here it is again. And so I’m sure we’ll learn more about it over the next few weeks,” Brees told SI. “But I think certainly there should be more of a third-party independent involvement when it comes to suspensions and some of the things that have transpired over the past few years in regard to the bounty accusations, which were found to be in most cases completely false.
“And yet it affects the perception of what was going on with our organization, and with certain players and with certain coaches that have very high character, very high integrity, and yet that was challenged and unfortunately they were falsely accused in many cases,” Brees added. “And yet, there’s no apology that ever comes from that. There’s no, ‘Well, we could’ve handled things differently.’ It’s very much everything is happening behind closed doors and this is just the way it is, and you just have to accept it. So there’s nothing we can really do about it.”
Of course, the Patriots and Brady probably appreciate hearing some voices echo in the distance speaking out against Goodell. But considering they’ve been silent for the first 15 months of the DeflateGate saga, they’d certainly be categorized as “too little, too late” to make a difference.