After ‘Deflategate,’ Roger Goodell might go pfft

This is my Saturday column.

Deflategate might be Roger Goodell’s Waterloo. He doesn’t know it yet. Napoleon probably didn’t know it, either.

Napoleon probably thought France would crush the Duke of Wellington and the armies of the Seventh Coalition. And Goodell probably thinks he can take down the NFL’s most powerful franchise — the Patriots — and biggest star — Tom Brady.

You can understand Goodell’s urge to fight this battle. We know the arrogance of the Patriots makes him look bad. Deflategate wasn’t the first time they broke rules and then danced on them under Goodell’s watch.

And we know Goodell is buddy-buddy with Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft. If Goodell didn’t come down hard on the Patriots for deflating footballs, the public might think he let his pal’s team slide. And how would that look?

What’s more, Brady didn’t cooperate with the investigation. Did not turnover e-mails and text messages. Made Goodell look like a sap.

So, Goodell nailed Brady with a four-game suspension — 25 percent of the season — fined the Patriots $1 million and took away two of their future draft picks.

That’s Goodell’s style of discipline. He tries to smack down people publicly, tries to embarrass them, and hopes the humiliation will deter future wrongdoings.

He’s like a father who whacks his kid in the supermarket. He wants everyone to see it, wants to show people he’s in control. But really he’s showing he lost it.

Look at Goodell’s actions from the perspective of NFL owners. They pay him to protect the league’s image and enrich their franchises. His heavy-handed approach to punishment does neither. His approach is all about his image.

But Deflategate has hurt the league’s image. It dominates the national conversation about the NFL. People are talking about Brady and his suspension more than the upcoming season, just like last season when Goodell’s mishandling of Ray Rice’s suspension dominated the discussion for weeks.

Goodell is supposed to protect the league from scandal. He could have sent NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent to Foxboro days before the AFC championship game against the Colts and told the Patriots to knock it off.

Remember, Vincent believes the Patriots were deflating footballs even before that game. “While we cannot be certain when the activity began,” Vincent wrote in an official statement, “the evidence suggests that January 18th was not the first and only occasion this occurred, particularly in light of the evidence referring to deflation of footballs going back to before the beginning of the 2014 season.”

The NFL had all season to privately handle this matter. But private punishment wasn’t good enough for Goodell. He needed to catch the Patriots in the act of deflating footballs, needed a spectacle, a full-on sting operation.

And this is what he got. Here’s the fallout of Goodell’s decision.

The first game of the 2015 season is a Thursday night game between the Patriots and Steelers. A large portion of the country will watch that game, and most of the casual viewing audience will ask the same two questions: Who is that Jimmy Garoppolo guy playing quarterback for the Patriots, and what happened to Tom Brady?

The announcers will explain the suspension and analyze the fairness of it and discuss the entire Deflategate controversy from beginning to end. Once again, a scandal will overshadow the game.

Imagine what might happen if the Patriots lose the first four games of the season while Brady serves his suspension. Imagine if they miss the playoffs. The 2015 season would have a permanent asterisk. It would be the Deflategate Season, courtesy of Roger Goodell.

Goodell would have fixed the season, would have prevented the Super Bowl champions from defending their title. Whichever team wins the Super Bowl, people will question if they really deserved it. If they were better than Brady and the Patriots. Goodell will have devalued his league’s ultimate prize.

On top of that, he might cost the league money. Brady is appealing Goodell’s punishment and, if Goodell doesn’t reduce the suspension or Brady isn’t satisfied with Goodell’s reduction, Brady will take the matter to federal court.

Imagine if this gets past the purview of the NFL. What will a federal judge think when Brady’s attorney holds up a poster in the courtroom which reads, “Ray Rice, domestic abuse: Two-game suspension. Tom Brady, deflating footballs: Four-game suspension.”?

What will a federal judge say when he realizes the NFL has no direct evidence that proves Brady knew equipment managers were deflating the Patriots’ footballs?

The judge might conclude Goodell acted unfairly. The judge might think Goodell has an arbitrary, biased judgment. And the judge might rule in favor of Brady.

If Goodell loses, the rest of the league will have to pay Brady’s lawyer fees, which could add up to millions.

In which case, the NFL probably will hire a new commissioner and exile Goodell to St. Helena.

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at

This article has 119 Comments

  1. Grant


    You’re a professional writer, right? If this is a criticism piece, which it sure appears to be, a criticism of Goodell piece, more specifically, you ought to ensure that you, yourself, are beyond reproach. Capiche?

    1. Actually, E ..
      if you take it as some outsider looking in ..
      then .. the sentiment is justified ..
      (can’t believe I’m defending Grant .. lol)

      but I do hafta disagree (a little) with one line .. =>

      …”It would be the Deflategate Season, courtesy of Roger Goodell…”

      Much as I can’t stand Goodell … imo .. the
      aforementioned “DeflateGate Season” responsibility
      rests squarely on the shoulders of Brady ..
      and .. by extension .. Robert Kraft .. cuz without
      his “Ostrich-like” leadership .. maybe the Pats
      wouldn’t have been busted for cheating ..

      (for the second time)

    2. MWNiner,

      No, no, it was just the spelling error. The wrecking ball Grant took to Roger Goodell’s character and intelligence was magnificent.

      1. it kinda was ..huh ?

        Good job on this one, Grant ! ..

        (Oneniner’s comment below, aside, of course)

      2. From the

        “In American English, judgement is generally considered a misspelling of judgment for all uses of the word, notwithstanding individual preferences. In British popular usage, judgment was traditionally the preferred form, but judgement has gained ground over the last couple of centuries and is now nearly as common as judgment.

        Pay no attention to the myth, widely repeated on the web, that judgement is the original spelling and that judgment is a 19th-century American invention. This is simply untrue, as shown by an abundance of readily available evidence anyone can view online.

        When it comes to legal contexts, English reference sources say varying things. Most seem to agree that judgment is preferred in legal contexts even in British English, and some say that American and British English differ in their strict legal meanings of judgment. Bryan Garner, in his Modern American Usage, says judgment in American English refers to “the final decisive act of a court in defining the rights of the parties,” whereas, he writes, the word in British English refers to a judicial opinion. We find nothing to contradict this, though there are many English reference sources that do not mention a legal/nonlegal distinction or an American/British distinction.”

    3. More Lunacy from Jr.

      ” He needed to catch the Patriots in the act of deflating footballs, needed a spectacle, a full-on sting operation.”


      Goodell had this at the top of his Wish List like he wanted Cancer.

      It’s beyond the Absurd.

    4. Dude…Why don’t you and your buddies use a different tact. If I wanted to go to Bible study classes I’d visit your website of puritanicals. But since I would rather have freedom of the press I find Grant’s writing style much more entertaining than you morons. You’re probably the same people who scratched bronze placks of the naked humanoid,s early man’s history at the Museum of Natural History in Golden Gate Park.
      When I want to revisit the Dark Ages I’ll be sure to tell you and your Neanderthal buddies about your website. Meanwhile, let the rest of us enjoy our 1st amendment.

  2. Another bias in this whole ridiculous saga: Troy Vincent played for the Bills and Dolphins in the AFC East. Never once did he beat the Patriots. I’m sure that doesn’t cloud his judgement.

    And after a quick Wikipedia search on him, he was sued for sexual assault a few years ago. Seems like the wrong guy to be handing out discipline.

    1. I`m quiet sure you can dig up some stuff on CryBrady,Krafty Bob and Belicheat and Don Yee,and in all of this it does not Make it go away,They Cheated once again,I will be honest,I don`t like the arrogance of the patriots,they are arrogance even when they are wrong,and Krafty Bob say that He is Christ Like btw that is what Christain means and yetHe has all this cheating and lying and murder associated with His team,That`s Not a Good Look Krafty Bob,I bet if this was some other QB you guys would be like”Hang him” but since it`s CryBrady,that`s a no no don`t touch the god of QBs,just goes to show how people are now days ,win at all cost no matter what”Rules, we don`t need no stinking rules” the Patriots motto.

        1. @Jimmy

          From your 1st Post you need to look in the mirror.

          Your Vincent Conspiracy is right up there with the “Other Shooter on the Grassy Knoll”

  3. Easy fix is the same footballs are used by both teams. Sharzies.

    No brainer, just make the check out to “Ghost of Mustard.”

  4. St. Helena?
    I’m sitting in St. Helena right now. Not a bad place to be exiled…

  5. “…exile Goodell to St. Helena.”
    Humph. St. Helena’s a nice spot, if over-priced; exile him instead to Lake County.
    I think the damage from Ray Rice may have been debilitating. Aftershocks like Deflategate, or possibly the next one, could bring his house down.

    1. Look at how Chip Kelly tried to sell the whole store to trade up for Mariota. If a team’s willing to spend that much draft capital on an unproven QB, imagine what they will spend in cap capital on a proven one.

      Makes sense for Wilson to test the market.

  6. Tom Brady does what all public figures do when they get caught, compound the problem by lying. If he would have just acknowledged that he may have been too exuberant with his football handlers, he wouldn’t have the PR nightmare on his hands that he has now. By taking it to the Federal Courts, he risks a PR apocalypse….

    1. Razor ..

      .. and for that very reason .. I think the real
      answer to the question of who the G.O.A.T.
      really is …

      is obvious ..

      (It ain’t him !)

  7. Not only is there no direct evidence connecting Brady to deflating game balls, there is no evidence that the balls were deflated by anyone if standards of high school physics are involved.

    Many scandals are made worse by folks who try to do a cover up. Just as true is that many investigations are botched when a directed outcome is desired.

    It would also be interesting to see how a federal court would see the punishment in relation to the NFL’s history of showing no real interest in a football’s air pressure through out the NFL’s history.

    1. The NFL itself has no idea why the inflation of footballs should be between 12.5 and 13.5 psi. It’s just the way it’s always been, and it might even go so far back that the forward pass was illegal.

      Why not let any QB have the footballs inflated to the pressure that they are most comfortable with. Oh My God, what would that do to the world economy?

      1. ht ..

        I agree with you as fas as scandals go ..
        this one is piddly …but .. still ..
        as far as the rule book says ..

        He cheated … and
        if this was the Patriots first offense .. it
        probably woulda ended up being
        a lotta smoke and no fire … but

        as we all know …

        it wasn’t their first offense

        1. If you assume that I’m defending Brady, I’m not. But I am criticizing the way the NFL does business.

          1. No, I got that … ht …
            and I agree with you wholeheartedly on that point ..

            and that’s mostly due to the Bozo in charge ..
            (Goodell) ..

            I guess I was just stating the obvious

          2. What do you have to say about Sean Peyton? Jon Vilma? where`s your outcry about the way the NFL did them? I see there are different rules for different people and I don`t like Goodell either but he actually let CryBrady off easy.

      2. If teams could dictate the psi in the footballs they used wouldn’t some running teams deflate their balls enough that they could be folded in half and put into their back pockets. Extreme deflated balls could be so small they would be hard to see and really hard to pull away from a ball carriers hands. They could be rolled into the shape of batons and passed from player to player like in a relay. Of course deflated ball might be really hard to pass. Of course if they were flat enough they could be thrown like a frisbee. Then the wider receiver corps would end up being comprised of Border Collies

  8. Hey Grant I hope Brady does go to federal court and like you say about Ray Rice 2-game suspension sign being held up in court,What about the Saints Sean Peyton and Jon Vilma 1 -year suspension,I think CryBrady should have gotten a Year suspension and Belicheat too, But you open this can of worms Grant,now own up to your one-sided view,you are Really a Patriot Fan are“nt you? writing undercover fora 9er-team you hate deep down to the roots.This whole thing stinks,only when Tom Brady gets caught people want to boo-hoo about had terrible He`s being treated,it`s unfair and yet nobody is coming to the rescue of Josh Gordon,A.P. and others that have been suspended for more then 4 games,Grant write about the how everybody should be treated fairly when you get caught doing wrong and breaking the rules of the NFL…you are sounding like How Dare Goodell Discipline the all-mighty CryBrady…really Grant!

  9. Grant,

    I believe you meant to write that Napoleon didn’t know that Waterloo was his Waterloo. What you wrote read like you were saying that Napoleon didn’t know that Deflategate would be Goodell’s Waterloo (hard for him to know this while he was alive, since it just happened).

  10. “He could have sent NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent to Foxboro days before the AFC championship game against the Colts and told the Patriots to knock it off.”

    “The NFL had all season to privately handle this matter.”

    Are you suggesting Troy Vincent, Goodell and the rest knew that the Patriots were doing this prior to the Colts game? Because that’s the first I’ve heard that being suggested. Just because Troy Vincent is now saying there is evidence to suggest this was not the first time it happened does not mean they knew about it prior to these investigations, or prior to the Colts game. And if they didn’t have knowledge of this prior to the Colts game, how would you propose they handle this differently to the way they have done?

    1. Also, assuming they did know about it, you appear to be suggesting that instead of punishing the Patriots for doing it previously, for breaking the rules, the NFL should have just told them to stop doing it. No punishment. Imagine if it got out in the press that Goodell had known the Patriots were cheating and instead of punishing them had on the quiet asked them to stop. That would be the end of Goodell for sure.

    2. That was a Troy Vincent quote about believing that it had been going on for a long time. If that’s what he believed he should have instigated procedures that would have accurately recorded air pressure before the game and adjusted it at halftime to account for weather conditions.

      He should have done it as soon as he first suspected anyone might be “adjusting” the air pressure if maintaining 12.5 to 13.5 psi effects the validity of NFL games. All it would have required was an NFL ball manager on each side line, and someone who could keep track of which pressure gage was being used before the game and at halftime. It kind of fits into the same bucket as using weekend game officials instead of year around employees.

      I love the fact that Brady was more effective after half time against the Colts, and also managed four touch down passes in the Superbowl.

      1. Did Troy Vincent ever say he believed it was happening prior to these investigations? Just because he now believes it was happening for some time, following investigations, does not mean he was aware/ believed it to be happening prior to the investigations.

        My understanding is the Colts officials sent them an email on the eve of the game, or maybe just before that, claiming they thought the Patriots were deflating footballs. So the NFL informed the refs to keep an eye on it, and they did. That is, the NFL did in fact instigate procedures once a query had been raised about Patriots practices.

  11. Under what grounds would a federal court even consider hearing this case? Brady plays at the pleasure of the NFL. If they aren’t pleased he doesn’t play, it is that simple.

    1. Exactly, but CryBrady thinks He has his own set of rules and you are seeing it now,refuse to turn over all electronic communication devices,throws a fit when he gets caught and suspended,and goes out and hire a million dollar lawyer team and then make of lies about what he was talking about to the 2-pasties that got fired,yep CryBrady is the best QB ever.

    2. You may be overlooking he Missouri Supreme Court cast that was decided against the NFL and Goodell.

  12. Grant wrote, “What will a federal judge say when he realizes the NFL has no direct evidence that proves Brady knew equipment managers were deflating the Patriots’ footballs?”

    Well, if the posited hypothetical federal judge follows the Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE), as he or she should, then he or she will apply FRE 401 in determining that the NFL’s “[e]vidence is relevant if (a) it has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence; and (b) the fact is of consequence in determining the action.”

    Contrary to what many in the press and public seem to believe, circumstantial evidence is admissible so long as it is probative; furthermore, it is often has a more reliable probative value than eyewitness testimony, which is laced with the vagueries of human perception, memory and motivation. Circumstantial evidence allows the trier of fact to analyze the evidence itself, and how the evidence collectively fits together, without the added layer of abstraction of trying to determine whether a witness is credible and reliable.

    I would be quite shocked if a federal judge found that the evidence in the Wells Report did not meet the FRE 401 threshold, so I doubt he or she would have much to say about the probative value of the evidence and thus he or she would admit it. So now that the evidence is admitted, we need to examine its efficacy.

    If our hypothetical federal judge is the trier of fact (a bench trial), he or she would likely consider it reliable evidence of a connection between the perpetrators and Brady, as the texts introduced as evidence would likely not happen absent such a connection, especially given the circumstances of Brady’s direct oversight of game ball preparation. Further, he or she would likely find that the implicature of the evidence suggests that a principal-agent relationship likely existed between Brady and the perpetrators, thus allowing for their actions to be imputed to Brady. Thus, even with no evidence of an explicit directive from the principal (Brady) to the agents (the perpetrators) to deflate the balls, he may be vicariously liable for their choices in how to prepare the balls for his liking.

    Now, some of you may have bought into the medias consternation regarding the use of “more likely than not” as the burden of proof in the report, so you may be thinking that my frequent use of ‘likely’ above may evince that our hypothetical federal judge would shake his or her head at the such a lowly threshold of proof. However, there are two issues to consider in understanding why that may not be the result when/if and actual federal judge acts as the trier of fact in a challenge to the discipline. The first issue, and the one that some people have latched onto, is that for most civil cases, the standard is preponderance of the evidence, which can be rephrased as ‘more likely than not.’ Thus, the standard used in the report, and thereby by the NFL, is the appropriate standard and will be recognized as such by the judge. But even so, that first issue is not really pertinent to Grant’s hypothetical. The second issue, that Brady will be the Plaintiff in bringing a challenge to the discipline, is more important for such a challenge in federal court as the Plaintiff will have the burden of showing that it is more likely than not that the evidence presented in the Wells Report was insufficient to establish that it was more likely than not that he (Brady) colluded with the perpetrators. The net effect is that in challenging the NFL’s discipline in Federal Court, Brady has the burden of convincing the Court that it is more likely than not that he did not have the connection implied by the evidence. It is exceedingly difficult to prove a negative, as the absence of evidence is not evidence of an absence, and absent some exculpating evidence not yet revealed, I suspect he will fail to meet his burden.

    Finally, the above is just mental self-pleasure for me as it is in response to a red herring created by Grant. The NFL’s suspension is as much rooted in Brady’s non-compliance with the League and the CBA as it is in the actions taken by the perpetrators and whether those may be imputed to Brady. The CBA requires players cooperate with NFL investigations. As I pointed out in another thread, the League has what we could call a ‘soft’ subpoena power in that discipline is a contemplated response to a player’s non-compliance.

    1. The fact that the NFL’s investigation didn’t follow the same “more likely than not” in concluding that the low reading pressure gage was used pregame as apposed to the “best of my memory” high reading pressure gage. All of which would lead to a “more likely than not” conclusion that the half time air pressure was “most likely to be expected” given the weather conditions.

      If the court theoretically decided that the conclusion by the NFL’s investigation that improper deflation existed was based on flawed scientific logic, why would there be a need to evaluate the circumstantial meaning of the text messages?

      1. The issue to which Grant alluded was Brady’s connection the equipment personnel. The accuracy of the methodology used to measure the air pressure is immaterial to that.

        On the question of the inflation itself, I must admit I do not understand your point in first paragraph. I cannot speak to the veracity of the assumptions therein without some explanations of the short hand you have used to refer to matters not discussed above. You are applying a legal standard to vague references without supplying the analysis of same.

        As for the final paragraph, The plaintiff would have to establish that it was more likely than not that (A) the methodology was flawed and (B) that the results were proximately caused by the flawed methodology. If both were shown, then perhaps the text messages are moot. However, the showing of (A) absent the showing of (B) would likely fail to meet the burden as the court would consider the totality of the circumstances, which include the evidence of a conspiracy as well as evidence of ball deflation.

        1. For fun, I decided to analyze the data themselves with respect to determining whether it was reasonable to conclude it was more likely than not that the data support the interpretation that external action, not the ideal gas law, accounted for the pressure differential between pre-game and half-time PSI measurements.

          For our initial measurements, we must rely on eyewitness testimony, namely the official who checked the game balls. So, as it would be most favorable to the Patriots, we will presume Patriot game balls were all inflated to 12.5 (the lowest value recalled) and Colts game balls were all inflated to 13.1 (the highest value recalled).

          If we take the data most favorable to the Patriots (highest measured half-time pressure for the Patriots and lowest measured half-time pressure for the Colts), we have the following results for the delta (change from pre-game to half-time PSI measurements):


          Mean Delta = 1.05 PSI


          Mean Delta = 0.775 PSI

          Under this scenario, the difference between the mean deltas (0.275 psi) could be from margin of error in the measurements and/or dissimilar sample size, and one could conclude that the decrease in pressure could be attributed to increased air density from the lower temperatures.

          Now, let’s look at it with the data least favorable to the Patriots (lowest measured half-time pressure for the Patriots and highest measured half-time pressure for the Colts), we have the following results for the delta:


          Mean Delta = 1.39 PSI


          Mean Delta = 0.36

          Under this scenario, the difference between the mean deltas (1.03 psi), which is much larger than one would expect if the decrease in pressure for both sets of game balls was due only to decreased pressure from lower game time temperature.

          We can try to resolve the range of mean deltas from the two scenarios (1.05 to 0.275PSI) by averaging the high and low half-time measurements. The delta for the average values is as follows:


          Mean Delta = 1.22 PSI


          Mean Delta = 0.567 PSI

          Under this last scenario, the difference between the mean deltas of the averaged half-time inflation measurements is 0.653 psi.

          All three scenarios show that the mean delta for Patriots’ game balls was always greater than the mean delta for Colts’ game balls. Even if we find the first scenario could be within margin of error/sample size bias, this explanation seems less likely for the other two scenarios under which the mean delta for Patriots’ game balls was more than a half PSI greater than the mean delta for Colt’s game balls. Given the legal standard is preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not), my analysis is that the mean delta from pre-game to half-time measurements under two of three scenarios, even with the initial value is set most favorable to the Patriots’ position, indicated that it is reasonable to determine that it is more likely than not that the greater delta over the Colts’ game balls is due to external factors rather than the operation of the ideal gas law.

    2. Thank You sir for speaking what you know for FACT and not talking off the top of your head or out the side of your neck,like Grant does most of the time,people keep trying to discredit the evidence in the Wells report and at the same time just disregard the facts that CryBrady ignored the request to turn over all his electronic communication devices which is against NFL rules,so CryBrady called their bluff and the NFL said ok,now you are suspended for 4 games(I think it should have been longer6-8 games) for being arrogant and having no respect for the rules of the NFL which He put himself up above every other NFL players……now CryBrady take your punishment like a real man and stop pouting like the Cybaby you are….you know I find it funny thaty CryBrady has a couple of NFL field fules named after Him, and a guy hits Him in a way that CryBrady thinks is close to be in violation of the rule named after him ,he makes sure he gets the ref`s attention and they enforce it,but now CryBrady don`t want to play by the rules of the NFL…hmmmmmm sounds like a hypocrite to me.

  13. Grant wrote, “What will a federal judge think when Brady’s attorney holds up a poster in the courtroom which reads, ‘Ray Rice, domestic abuse: Two-game suspension. Tom Brady, deflating footballs: Four-game suspension.’?”

    The hypothetical federal judge will likely think that the attorney is attempting to introduce evidence in an improper manner. Further, he or she may even hold the attorney in contempt of court if the attorney continued to try to circumvent the rules of evidence.

    Further, even if the attorney were to attempt to properly introduce such evidence, it will likely not meet a FRE 401 challenge unless Brady’s hypothetical lawsuit claimed the punishment was arbitrary and capricious and that prior discipline was relevant to showing same. Even so, the judge would focus on whether the prior discipline presented was evidence of a pattern of arbitrary and capricious rulings, not on whether either discipline was proper to the particular infraction.

  14. Goodell will reduce it 2 games…Brady will accept the punishment…and it’ll be done with.
    Nobody will allow it to consume the entire season.
    Honestly, I’m curious to see what the Pats are going to do about the fine and loss of picks.

    1. The interesting part of the fine and draft picks was the exoneration of the organization and head coach that went along with announcing the “team” punishment. It’s like a “lone gunman announcement” — Brady and his two guys did it all.

      1. Bingo! This whole thing is set up to fail. The League by hanging this on one guy ,Brady , insure that down the road this whole thing is proved faulty. In that way the organization gets off the hook.
        In my veiw what should have happened, the league says the balls are not up to spec. The balls are kept by the teams. The team takes the hit, not one or two fall guys. The team cheated. The team loses the trophy.
        The true thugs are the owners and their front the NFL.

  15. What do you call a bus-load of lawyers..
    going off Devil’s Slide ?

    (a great start)

  16. Grant wrote,”The judge might conclude Goodell acted unfairly. The judge might think Goodell has an arbitrary, biased judgment. And the judge might rule in favor of Brady.”

    First, my understanding was that Goodell’s office, not Goodell himself, handed down the discipline.The court would determine whether the process was fair, not whether Goodell was fair, but only if unfairness was alleged. If only lack of evidence is alleged, then fairness may not even by at issue.

    But assuming fairness is at issue, Brady would still have the burden of proving it was more likely than not that the discipline was unfair and/or it is more likely than not that the commissioner’s office operated under a bias when making that decision. This returns us to my post above, of Brady having the burden to show it is more likely than not that the NFL did not establish a connection between him and the perpetrators. Because if he cannot show that the evidence was insufficient, then he cannot show bias or unfairness in that the commissioners office acted within authority granted by the plain language of the CBA. The only hope would be showing it was arbitrary and capricious.

    By the way, if some of you are wondering, the Missouri Supreme Court case would have little bearing here. First, it would be merely persuasive authority, not direct authority, for the federal court. More importantly, that case involved application of labor law to labor dispute arbitration between the owners and employees. The Court found that the commissioner, as and employee of the owners, could not be an impartial final arbitrator of disputes between the owners and direct employees of the owners. The decision may imply that the commissioner could not be an impartial final arbitrator in discipline matters either, but that has no bearing on whether he can hand down discipline. The implicature is that he may not be able to be the final appellate authority. However, unless a federal court adopts the Missouri Supreme Court’s ruling or uses it as rational for its own findings, that ruling only pertains to Missouri.

    1. Given that Goodell has leaked that he will hear Brady’s appeal, it seems likely that it would be at least relevant if Brady goes to court.

      1. “It’s far more likely that Brady and the NFL Players Association will pursue litigation, primarily because Goodell won’t be voluntarily stepping aside from personally handling the appeal.” … PFT

      2. Only if it is heard in Missouri, and maybe not even there, as that was specifically a labor arbitration case.

        1. Otherwise, the Missouri case is suggestive of what could happen, but the case itself is not relevant to a federal court action. You see, relevant has a specific meaning under the law, not the vague way we often use it.

          1. Once again, JPN, thanks for your perspective on the courts.
            I can pitch in with wine recommendations as needed.

    2. Brady will have a hard time proving that he wasn’t treated fair since he didn’t cooperate……
      He’ll also have a hard time proving that he didn’t lie to Wells.

    3. I’m not a lawyer but, thanks to your writings JPN, I can see that the issues are many and complex. One thing that troubles me is the issue of does the punishment fit the crime. With a four game suspension (double that of Ray Rice) one would expect that the NFL thought that under/over inflating footballs was very serious. Yet they allowed each team to monitor the balls, WITHOUT ANY INDEPENDENT SUPERVISION! The good old “Honor System”. The NFL has many hundreds of rules dealing with virtually every detail of the game, and has defined penalties for violations. Also, to the best of my knowledge, they have specified who shall monitor those rules. Yet, inflating footballs, it’s just, do your best and promise that you will not break or bend the rules. I have a real problem with this and find that it could be reasonably inferred by the equipment manager or other interested parties that it just wasn’t that big of a deal. Do players push the envelope on NFL rules? Gee, what do fans think about the way the Seahawks manhandle receivers and get away with it? The NFL, decides all by itself how the rules are going to be interpreted and when the refs should just turn a blind eye. I say the NFL can’t have it both ways without being arbitrary and unfair. If under/over inflating balls is a big deal, then they should have had a clear-cut means to independently verify that the rule was being enforced in the boys will be boys environment that they themselves created. Remember, there is offensive holding on every play and the NFL is fine with saying, oh well. Seriously, in the environment that the NFL has created, I believe that they have a duty to clearly specify what are serious infractions and what are just….oh well.

      1. I will attempt this without delving deeply into theories of crime and punishment (which would require a short book as opposed to an overlong blog comment post). Simply put, in a given society, criminal activity encompasses those activities that the society has determined are detrimental to the maintenance of a well ordered society. The severity of a crime is usually measured by its impact on society above its impact on the victim(s) of the crime. Even the severity of a homicide is often measured not on the value of the life taken, but on the intent of perpetrator, which is a measure of impact on society.

        The NFL is a society. Sure, it exists within the larger society, but it is a society in-and-of-itself. Within that society, certain behaviors are considered to be so deleterious to the society that the chief enforcement officer, the commissioner (who is rather like a Street Judge from Judge Dredd universe), is given the power both to investigate alleged violations and to levy penalties for violations determined to merit such. The measure that the commissioner, or his subordinate Street Judges, must use is the impact of the violation on the society that is the NFL.

        In U.S. society at large, we are on the ‘honor system’, so to speak, not to engage is numerous criminal activities, ranging from speeding to conspiracy to commit felonies to committing such felonies. Each of these violations of the honor system has a different weight based on its impact to society. Sure, it would be easier just to restrict speeding by placing speed limiters on vehicles (some commercial vehicles currently use such devices, although those are installed by the owners of the vehicles, not the government), but we do not do so. In the same vein, it would seem easier to reduce the instances of conspiracies by restricting the ability of the populace to assemble and restricting about what the populace could speak. However, these measures run counter to some other ideas that our society believes are necessary – such as those guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.

        Turning back to the NFL, it would be easy to limit how the balls are prepared and who has access to them, but in so doing, the owners would be restricting their own freedom and potentially harming their own employees. Thus, the ‘honor system’ allows for the owners to maintain their own fiefdoms as they please rather than having to subvert them to the collective. It is a type of freedom, within the society of the NFL.

        But, just as the U.S. Justice System punishes conspiracy and obstruction of justice relatively harshly because they are abuses of the freedoms guaranteed to societal members, the NFL may punish abuses to its ‘honor system’ (in this case, both an alleged conspiracy and obstruction of ‘justice’) more harshly than seems warranted when weighed against other punishable activities. In both instances, the abuses of freedoms/honor system are in themselves deleterious to their respective societies beyond what the end goal of the conspiracy may have been. So, just as a conspiracy to commit armed robbery enhances the seriousness of the underlying activity, so does a conspiracy to deflate game balls.

        Given that the NFL has broad authority to discipline conduct; given that in most cases preponderance of the evidence is all that is needed to determine culpability; and given that a conspiracy to gain a competitive advantage, no matter how slight, and that obstructing the NFL’s investigation of said conspiracy both are damaging to the society of the NFL because they are a violation of the ‘honor system’, I believe a reasonable argument can be made that the punishment does indeed fit the ‘crime’.

        What troubles me, as a theorist of jurisprudence, is that one of the reasons we have a higher burden of proof in society for criminal activity is because through the criminal justice system, we are punishing people for the abuse of freedoms. The civil system is different because it is a way of balancing competing interests of individuals, and since the freedom of the parties is not at stake, the court uses a lower burden. The NFL is a trade organization, and as such, its relationship with its members and its members’ employees falls (mainly) under civil law. This allows preponderance of the evidence to be the lowest allowable threshold. However, the NFL, under its discipline enforcement power, acts as a quasi justice system. The NFLPA should have bargained for a higher threshold for all discipline (something in the Personal Conduct Policy does require clear and convincing evidence for discipline, if my memory serves me right, but I cannot recall the particulars); instead, under the current CBA, the players seem to have traded better working conditions for giving the commissioner nearly unfettered power over disciplinary matters not involving substance abuse. If unfairness exists in this discipline, it is at the level of the burden of proof threshold, not at the level of the punishment fitting the crime.

        I will end with a word (or several) about the Ray Rice issue, as many people seem to want to bring that up as a metric for the punishment in question. However, if looked at from the NFL as a society perspective, the two matters can easily be ranked in terms of obvious harm to the NFL. The act of one player against a non-NFL affiliated person outside of a competition setting, and moreover, outside of an NFL sanctioned setting, is much less harmful to the society of the NFL than a conspiracy to gain a competitive advantage, which strikes at the heart of the trade organization and its bylaws that are designed to protect competition.

        At least, that was the thinking at the time. As it turned out, the NFL – in the person of its commissioner – vastly underestimated the impact of outside society on the insular society of the NFL. The NFL had to adapt to bring itself more in line with outside society, which it has done. As such, the proper metric for evaluating Brady and the Patriot’s punishment is not Ray Rice, as that initial punishment was meted out by an NFL that was unenlightened, so to speak, about larger societal concerns, but against subsequent punishments for conduct that is detrimental to the NFL because it is detrimental to outside society, and thus the NFL’s place is that society.

      2. An honest argument can be made on both sides on whether or not the punishment fits the crime, but the league has an obligation (imo) to treat this case with utmost seriousness given the fact that an act of tampering with the football in order to give your team an unfair advantage is by all accounts “cheating.”

        What I find equally troubling is that Bilichick and Brady are regarded as the best in their respected fields which makes this recent indictment hard to swallow.
        I noted recent indictment because it seems that the Patriots are developing an infamous reputation for gaining unfair advantages: Spygate.

        I’m ok with the punishment because the Patriots have tampered with the integrity of the game more than once and it’s time that the league takes a firm and measured stance to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.
        The NFL is a multi-billion dollar cash-cow and the teams that succeed every year are the teams that live on football’ version of Park Avenue and Broadway. Cheating in order to gain access to this prestigious real-estate should never be tolerated.
        Just one man’ opinion.

  17. Change of pace: Eight minutes of South Carolina vs. Georgia last year. Focus is on Dylan Thompson but there are also several nice plays by Busta Anderson. You can see why they like Thompson. Good poise, great arm, accuracy, quick release. Finds receivers. Can pick you apart.

  18. A father shows he’s lost it for smacking his brat kid in public???
    And we wonder why this country and all moral is headed straight to hell on a rocket ship…

    1. I caught that too. He thinks when father smacks kid in supermarket its about control.

  19. Training camp can not come soon enough. Quite frankly I have had enough about Brady’s balls.

  20. You’ve based your argument on a small minded hateful little thought; “And Goodell probably thinks he can take down the NFL’s most powerful franchise — the Patriots — and biggest star — Tom Brady.”

    That’s an incredibly naive assumption Grant.

    1. This is old Mid West. It talks about the Eagles still trying to trade up in the draft for Mariota. It says May 15th but it’s old. Plus Niners did not draft a QB which would mean that they have zero interest in trading kaep.

    2. MWN,
      Yup, caught that article this morning. This guy seems to basing his theory that Baalke wants to rid himself of “all things Harbaugh” which has been regurgitated on this blog site one too many times. He has no hard facts and is only speculating on personal opinion.
      He is very late to the party.

      1. Actually he isn’t late. Look at the paragraph on the Eagles and see if you can find why I say that.

        1. MWN,
          Jimmie Kaylor is only looking at scenarios that would work for the Eagles. There is no way the 49ers let Chip Kelly have Kaep for a 2nd rd pick.
          Kaylor makes a pretty good case for CK going to the Bears to replace Cutler, but again, Kaylor is basing his scenarios on Baalke ridding (himself) the 49ers of Harbaugh’ last remnant – Colin Kaepernick.

          Btw, Jimmie boy weighs all the advantages of such a trade in favor of the Eagles or the Bears. He makes no concession on who would be the 49ers QB in the event CK leaves in his scenarios.
          Which QB would the 49ers find attractive in such a move? Bradford? Cutler?
          Foles may have sweetened the pot a little, but he’s no longer in the equation.

          Jimmie Kaylor has no bases or solid evidence for his scenarios – therefore in my book he is not only late to the party, but he’s come to the party empty handed as well.

          1. You missed what I was referring to AES. Look at where he talks about Mariota in reference to the Eagles. It’s a indicator that the article came before the draft and just had a new date slapped on it in order to see who would bite.

            1. MWN,
              Yup, CK-elite made reference to that. I was just having fun beating a dead horse I guess.
              Like someone pointed out, it was a slow news day (lol).

    1. Thanx for setting me straight, AES & CK ..

      The article had me thinkin’ Jedster was
      at it again.. ya know .. like last year ..
      leaking crap to the press about Harbs
      losing the locker room and such …

      Between Jedster and Goodell .. you have
      two-thirds of a 3 Stooges reunion !

  21. Watching the 49ers 2015 rookie media session it would appear Eli Harold is already the leader of the group. Pretty much every time Tartt was asked a question he would look to Harold after his answer as if he was either seeking assistance or approval. Tartt appeared quite uncomfortable, as did Smelter. Bell, Harold, Pinion and Anderson appeared the most comfortable in the media session.

    Pinion looks big, wouldn’t think he’s a punter. Bell looks like he needs to add some weight to his shoulders, though that may be because he was sitting next to Trenton Brown! That was a pretty funny group actually – handled the session well, and looked pretty funny with the size differences going from Brown to Bell to 5’9″ Davis.

    1. Scooter-
      Just teasing, because your insights are our first peeks at the newbies, but don’t get too worried about their Media Skills; Marshawn Lynch has non-existent media skills, belligerent incommunicado-itis, but he’s prett good between the sidelines! : >)

      1. I’m not at all worried by their media skills Brotha. Its a slow news day, just pointing out what I saw. :-)

        1. I was just fussing. Actually, it’s good to hear of the leadership in Harold. Those are the guys that perk up their mates when the going gets tough.

  22. I noted the passing of Garo Yepremian, the long tenured nfl place kicker. His unfortunate legacy in my mind was that he had the single worst pass attempt in the history of league play; and he performed it in a Super Bowl, where it went back as a Pick6.
    Jameis Winston’s infamous Statue-of-Liberty-Fall-on-Arse-Fumble, also returned for a TD, although epic, didn’t happen in an nfl game, so Garo’s “Worst Ever” still stands.

  23. Grant must have travelled to see The Preakness, because he isn’t exactly burning up his keyboard on the weekend the rookies open their MiniCamp in Santa Clara. After a while he’ll put up a link to one of his left-overs from Bleacher Report.

    1. Yep, and if a reader was only checking into the site for new articles from Grant, and didn’t scroll down through all the comments, he wouldn’t ever even see the link to the BR article, and would then think Grant only contributes about 150 words per week to his job at “Inside the 49ers”. The guy’s definitely coasting through the job…

      1. Would you rather have Bob Padecky back? (lol).
        I’m not a huge fan of Grant as much as I am of the characters that frequent this blog – many of whom that have been here long before Grant.

        But if the guy wants to take a day off I’ve got no problem with that. If I really need to know what is going on with the 49ers there are a slew of sites at my fingertips.
        Just saying.

        1. “I’m not a huge fan of Grant as much as I am of the characters that frequent this blog”

          AES, The regulars, and even the once-in-a-blue-moon posters that contribute their two cents, are the only reason I keep coming back for more. I too get my daily 49er new fix primarily from sites other than here, but I spend a portion of most mornings skimming the comments section of this site to read what all the regulars have to say about whatever the hot topic of the day is. More often than not though, that topic is contributed through a link posted here by a regular reader, rather than an article written by the erstwhile and often absent-for-days host of the site.

          1. Totally agree Bar None.
            This blog is becoming a consolidated arena (with bloggers posting links) for receiving a good range of 49er news from different perspectives.

        2. Definite No to Bob Padecky’s return. He’s an accomplished writer but he refused to lift a finger on his blog assignment. He just should have said no thanks from the get go.
          Yeah, news usually elsewhere, discussions here. It’s funny, MattM. got this room going for the foundation of what it is, (for better or worse), but his chat room is less interesting or appealing over at CSN.
          Some of Grant’s best work has been observing players’ personalities as individuals and in their locker room and practice interactions and relating those to us. That requires access that has so far been very limited, but the general time of season is ripe and fan interest high. Remember Grant’s piece on Ted Ginn? Remember how a line here and their began to paint a picture of the engaging Boobie’s antics? I recall EB contacting rookie players’ college coaches and sharing their comments about the new guys. Opportunities abound.

          1. Brotha,
            Padecky was a “bridge” for Grant the way Steve DeBerg was a bridge for Joe Montana (lol).

            Padecky did his best work as a raider beat writer pre-LA, or when the raiders were actually relevant.
            Covering a 49ers blog may have been viewed as a career slap in the face.
            Yea, I’m ok with young Grant.

    1. “…If you don’t like the news ..
      go out and make some of your own ..”

      Scoop Nisker

      In this case, BarNone .. it seems Grant
      is leaving us to our own devices to find
      our own 49er news

    2. Bar None,
      This is Grant’ fervent commitment to his PD fans:
      “I am out here for you. You don’t know what it’s like to be ME out here for YOU. It is an up-at-dawn, pride-swallowing siege that I will never fully tell you about, ok?”

      — Jerry Maguire

    1. undercenter ..

      wouldn’t it be nice if they invited Grant
      to watch some camp activities ?
      Then Grant would have something to
      write about ..

      1. MWN – is camp open to reporters? I didn’t think it was. All the writers seem to be quiet.

        1. Nope .. I don’t think so .. uc ..

          at least not yet … but ..
          I was thinkin’ … ya know .. when
          camp is open to the press …

          … which begs the question ..

          will Grant get an invite ?

  24. The 49ers should be a lot more open about allowing beat writers access to coaches, players, and practice now that Jim Harbaugh is gone. Oh! Wait! They’re not.

  25. Quaski Tartt @QuaskiT:

    “Rookie camp over! I learned a lot, next up OTA’s #grinddontstop”.

    As the rookie minicamp was closed to the press, I guess the best thing we can say is that it appears they’ve gotten through the camp without any significant injuries being reported.

  26. Scooter,
    Good to hear. The other positive is that all rookies and UDFA’ are leaving with contract in hand as well.
    All good!

    1. Good point! The current CBA sure makes rookie contracts a lot easier to get done than in the past. These days the negotiations really just come down to how much will be guaranteed.

    1. WRT Jarryd Hayne, he actually rarely returned kick-offs. He fielded his fair share of them, but in rugby league the guy that usually catches the kick-off gives it off to one of the bigger guys on the team to return it – and they run directly into a wall of defenders.

      As a fullback, Hayne was responsible for fielding and returning general field kicks – similar to punts in the NFL.

      1. At the moment I’m betting that Hayne is able to make the team. For one thing I don’t think the 49ers will get away with trying to put him on a practice squad. If he shows any ability to play at this level he’ll get snatched up by a team with a poor roster. I also wonder how much guarantee the 49ers offered in giving him a chance to compete out on the field with what Hayne decided to leave behind. Maybe they already know they’re going to use him and it’ll be a unforeseen issue that causes him to miss the team i.e. He just can’t play in pads(seems incredibly unlikely). I understand that many see him as a running back but frankly I’ve never extended the thought to that point. I figure once he’s caught on and is having success returning kicks he can slowly work his way into the offense but I wouldn’t base his ability to make the team in anyway on his ability to take a snap and run through a hole in the line or learn the teams offense for that matter. If he turns out to be a dummy then he remains a ST specialist.

        Hayne appears to be one of those rare athletes that’s probably good at most any sport he tries to play. If they keep him on the return side of things then they wont overwhelm him and he’ll be allowed to use his special athleticism to make plays with the ball. He’s big, he’s fast and he seems to have great vision on the field. The pads will be hard at first but I think he’ll quickly get past it and this signing will end up being seen as brilliant.

        The only question is, when he needs to be resigned and is now the premiere return man in the league which team will end up with him since Baalke would never pay big bucks to a return specialist? He’ll be a Redskin in 5 years.

        1. I think it will be a monumental task for Hayne to make the final 53. Expecting an athlete who has never played this game to beat out players who have is unrealistic imo. The amount they guaranteed him ($100,00) tells you all you need to know about how they view this. It’s a shot in the dark and if it works out, great but they aren’t putting much stock in it that’s for sure.

          Hayne is an excellent athlete but his speed is not great, and his inexperience limits him to being a returner only which lowers his value immensely. If he has a good TC then maybe they figure out a way to keep him, but personally, I see him going on the PS and I honestly can’t see other teams claiming him when they would face the same issues the Niners would in keeping him on the final roster.

          1. The odds are far more in your camp then mine. There wont be any shocked expressions in this chair if he doesn’t make the team.

          2. I didn’t actually mean financial guarantee but it doesn’t matter.

    2. Hayne will have to show something as a punt returner. He has the size, speed, and elusiveness to also be a prospect for kick returns. The clincher for him, I’m guessing, will be what he shows in coverage teams as well. I envision a role for Hayne in the offense that might have him run a few Miller-type plays as a receiver and. Few Delanie plays as a receiver. The guy will be good in space with the ball in his hands. Keep it simple, a few combo plays. Let him lay some wood as a blocker a few times to break the substitution patterns.
      Are Hayne and Millard battling for the same roster spot? If Trent likes Hunter as much as I think he does, Hayne offers more versatility than Millard due to STs.

      1. BT,

        I have to disagree. I think Millard offers a lot more versatility than Hayne. Millard can play multiple positions and every ST’s unit, while Hayne is pretty much limited to being a Punt returner/Kick returner.

  27. Kraft won’t even appeal the punishment on Patriots. Maybe someone with a huge dislike for the 49ers will go pfft from the Press Democrat!

    I don’t understand why you were chosen to cover a team you absolutely don’t like, never have anything positive or nice to say about them, smh. You actually had to go back 15-25 yrs and pull up really old stuff to drag the 49ers into this as the most crooked NFL team of all time. Unbelievable … I’m sure you won’t miss me Grant, but reading your constant rants about the 49ers, the team you’re paid to cover, is unbearable.

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