Sunday, June 14, 2015

AEI Report Provides Means For Both Kraft And Goodell To Save Face

Jeffrey Kessler was unavailable.

The time table for the National Football League to set a date in any appeal is 10 days from the date of a request for appeal from a player - many are confused by this, thinking that the appeal must be heard within 10 days of the suspended party's notice of appeal, but the 10 day period is merely a deadline for the league and player and all council to agree upon a date for an appeal to be heard.

The first date proposed would have seen Brady's appeal take place last week, but was delayed until June 23rd upon the request of Brady's lawyer, as he claimed to be unavailable on that date.
Goodell and Kraft at the Owner's meeting in San Francisco

Obviously, there was not much contention between the parties involved in regard to the delay, but with the release of a report from the American Enterprise Institute, (heretofore referred to as AEI) one has to wonder if Kessler's delay was a tactic to ensure that this very tangible piece of independent study was completed and in the public eye with time to spare in order to contradict what has been perceived in this blog as flawed and biased findings in the Wells Report.

The AEI released its independent study of the Wells report on Friday and, in line with the thoughts of most Patriots' fans and, indeed, Kessler, the findings of this right wing think tank presents potentially damaging contrast with the league commissioned report.

The American Enterprise Institute defines itself as a "private, nonpartisan, not-for-profit institution dedicated to research and education on issues of government, politics and social serve leaders and the public through research and education on the most important issues of the day.", and its integrity and intellectual rigor is considered beyond reproach.

One of the more compelling features of the organization - and, indeed, what separates it from a for-profit entity such as the contributors to, and of, the Wells Report - is that it does not perform contract research, and that its research agenda is determined by its president in consultation with its trustees, scholars and fellows.

In lay terms, and as was made very clear in the preamble to their report, the AEI is a non-biased, independent research facility whose sole purpose is to elevate debate on many controversial subjects, and their findings are considered wholly independent and expert testimony in a court of law... when this institute publishes a report that summarizes that the evidence presented in the case of the New England Patriots alleged deflation of footballs prior to the AFC Championship game matchup with the Indianapolis Colts last January is "inconsistent with the Wells findings", and that the "Wells report conclusions are likely incorrect" and that "a simple misunderstanding appears to have led the NFL to these incorrect conclusions", both the NFL and the Patriots have room to maneuver without losing face.

How much of the knowledge of this undertaking was known as far back as the start of the Owners meetings, when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Patriots' owner Robert Kraft hugged it out and exchanged a quiet word the night before Kraft announced that he was giving up the fight against the sanctions imposed on his team?

How much of the knowledge of the research being undertaken prompted Kraft's decision?  How much of it influenced Goodell's decision not to recuse himself from Brady's appeal hearing?  The world may never know, but logic dictates that AEI's report is a key piece of damage control measures undertaken by both men to not only clear the Patriots and Brady of any wrong-doing, but also for Goodell to have a base in which to distance himself from the flawed Wells Report.

The institutes reputation with the NFL is well documented, as it was the independent findings of AEI that caused the suspensions of all New Orleans' Saints players alleged to be involved in the so-called "Bountygate" incident to be overturned and vacated by the NFL when said findings were presented in an appeal hearing in November of 2012.

"Considering that our impartiality was at least implicitly recognized by the NFL in the past, we believe that our analysis in Deflategate...could help resolve this latest controversy." reads an introductory paragraph from an article released by the institute to the New York Times on Friday entitled, "Deflating 'Deflategate'" - meaning that both the NFL and the Patriots' Organization - as well as the NFLPA and Kessler - are bound by precedent  to accept the findings of the institute as being expert and impartial testimony.

What this means for Goodell and the NFL is that the findings of this report serve as a talisman to officially vacate penalties to Brady and the Patriots based on the "new evidence" that Goodell spoke of in his letter of refusal to the NFLPA to recuse himself from the proceedings, without fear of reprisal from the other 31 franchise owners of NFL teams.

Of course, to do so, Goodell would have to dismiss the entirety of the Wells Report, which would severely damage the reputation of attorney Ted Wells, a high-priced Manhattan-based litigator that the NFL had retained and contracted to investigate whether the Patriots had intentionally deflated footballs prior to the AFC Title game...

...which isn't going to be so difficult since the AEI basically concluded that the Wells report is indeed biased in its findings, electing to utilize portions of evidence that fit the findings that they wished to establish, while dismissing important portions of the same research - the AEI concluding that because of this, the Wells report is "Deeply flawed."

As for Kraft, the AEI report should be exonerating him in the eyes of his critics.  The day following his statement that he was giving up his fight against the sanctions levied by the NFL, he said that he knew that the fan base was going to be upset with him, but also asked the same fan base to trust him that he was doing the best thing for the organization and for the fans.

Kraft's pleas for trust from the fan base was met with extreme negativity by a majority who cumulatively have trashed Kraft on social media platforms, calling him a "wimp" who "backed down" to the power of the NFL and who "turned his back on Brady."

With this new evidence coming to light - assuming that Kraft and Goodell most likely knew about the AEI research being undertaken - the conversation between Goodell and Kraft in San Francisco gains some possible context and Kraft's decision to give up his fight against sanctions has reasoning to it that even his harshest critics should be able to recognize.

In the end, the people who will lose are Wells and some of Goodell's top lieutenants, whom it is reported initiated a sort of sting operation against the Patriots, and most likely dictated the course of the Wells report - which may or may not put their names on a list of defendants in any subsequent civil litigation pertaining to defamation of Brady's character.

There is apt to be much finger pointing between all of those people, but it stands to reason that both Goodell and the Patriots will come out of this controversy unscathed, while the people who precipitated the entire debacle are likely to be under heavy scrutiny and in a fight for their own reputations...

...then the only thing left to do is for Goodell to issue an apology to Kraft and the Patriots, and everything will be right again in Patriot Nation.

1 comment:

  1. Don't hold your breath waiting for an apology from Goodel