Thursday, July 16, 2015

Brady Unaffected By Battle He's Destined To Win

Tom Brady just doesn't care.

While the rest of the football universe awaits NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's ruling from last month's marathon appeal session, the New England Patriots' quarterback has summoned his inner-Bill Murray, donning a bucket hat and rolling around on the manicured lawn of some golf course in western Montana.

It is doubtful that Brady is moonlighting as a greenskeeper to make ends meet in the face of losing four games worth of pay, living in the back of a large wooden shed with riding lawnmowers as furniture - and it's equally ridiculous to ponder that he keeps himself occupied in the evenings by tending to a fresh patch of an experimental grass, a hybrid of Kentucky bluegrass, featherbed bent and California sensemilia.

Looking relaxed and carefree on a golf course is fitting, however, in that Brady's ascension from a lowly 6th round draft pick to Super Bowl MVP in the space of two seasons qualifies as a Cinderella story in most circles, but it is unclear if he's carrying a kit bag full of C-4 along with murderous intent towards rodents, or even if he mutilated a row of innocent mums with a scythe.

What is clear is that he isn't worried about what Goodell has to say.

Why?  Well, first there's the fact that Brady and his insanely beautiful squeeze have more money than God, so the money that he stands to lose from his four game suspension is about what he blows at the Kentucky Derby each spring - in other words, disposable income. Secondly, Brady's been around long enough to know that sweating stuff out of his control causes his finely tuned body to lose its balance - and then, so much for avocado-based ice cream.

But the biggest reason for Brady's nonchalance is that he knows that he will extract out of the system exactly what he wants, be it through exoneration by Goodell or through the federal appeals process - the only question being, which will it be?

It really doesn't matter which, because as much as the Wells' Report was a predetermined fiction novel full of word-twisting and selective science, the results of a Federal appeal is all but a given in Brady's favor.  The Wells Report has been shot so full of holes that it's of no use to anyone on either side, whatever's on Tom Brady's personal cell phone the only evidence of any wrong-doing on his part, if anything at all.

Brady testified under oath at his appeal hearing with the commissioner, a brilliant stratagem that effectively relieves Brady of having to say another word to anyone at all, leaving the sure first-ballot Hall-of-Fame quarterback free to concentrate on family and football, first vacationing in Montana and then back to Foxborough for training camp, all without giving a second thought to the process.

And why should he?  He's earned the Dr. Evil approach of going on about his business and assuming that everything goes according to plan - because chances are pretty good that while Brady's attorney, Jeffery Kessler, hammers the league in court, Brady will be exacting his revenge against a league full of folks who have been calling him a cheater for the past six months.

Whether that be by Goodell's hand or by Kessler manipulating the court docket to ensure the case doesn't see a court room until after the season, it makes no difference.

But Goodell can't possibly want this to end up in court, because if it does, the discovery process in itself will exonerate Brady as well as implicate several of Goodell's Machiavellian henchmen as the antagonistic frauds that they are by Kessler requesting the email records of everyone from Indianapolis Colts' general manager Ryan Grigson to Mike Kensil, to officiating boss Dean Blandino and his fixer Alberto Riveron.

Why? Well, only to make those last three gentlemen appear to be co-conspirators in what amounts to a high-style bag job intent on catching the Patriots in the act of using improperly inflated footballs. Blandino is on public record as saying he knew nothing of the Colts' accusatory email until after the AFC Championship game was played - and of course while that statement was not made under oath, Blandino is not bound to it, like Brady is his.

He could always change his story under oath and save himself a perjury charge, but at the same time proving Kessler's case that the NFL's sole intent was to set up the Patriots.  At that point, the NFL loses every shred of credibility in the court room and lead counsel Jeff Pash will be in prevent defense - as if he won't be already.

After all, trying to set precedence for future punishments based on such flimsy evidence, and against someone who isn't even under the auspices of the word of that rule is problematic at best.  According to the National Football League Players' Association (NFLPA), the NFL has handed down a punishment to a player when the rule applies only to equipment handlers...

...yet Wells connected the dots to Brady by fathoming that he was "generally aware" that the equipment managers were deflating footballs in order to gain a competitive advantage, and also that because of Brady's refusal to hand over his private cell phone to investigators, he impeded an investigation, therefore behaving in a a manner detrimental to the league.

For that, there is a standing precedence from the Brett Favre sexual harrassment case a decade ago, but Favre was fined $50,000 and the whole thing got swept under the carpet. There currently is no standing precedence for tampering with a football, though a $25,000 fine to the team for each infraction is the only recourse according to the league's punitive schedule.

In other words, even if the footballs were deflated in accordance with the flawed science in the Wells Report, the sum of deflating 11 of the 12 footballs used in the AFC Championship game comes out to a $275 thousand fine for the team, and the precedence set for refusing to turn over a cell phone to investigators is $50 thousand - and that's a far cry from the $1 million fine and the subtraction of two draft pics that the NFL hit the team with, and the four-game suspension that Brady is currently set to fight.

Precedence is precedence, and for the league to be allowed to circumvent standing procedure renders their rule book nothing more than a set of soft guidelines, and further perpetuates the kangaroo court over which Goodell currently presides. That wisdom cuts the other way as well, in that if Goodell rescinds the penalties and issues a new proclamation more in line with set standards, it would potentially sap the NFL of its authority to set new precedence over future matters.

It's a fine line for sure, but that's for the NFL to worry about, not Brady.  Brady isn't the one who went completely out of his mind on a preternatural power trip.  Brady isn't the one who tried to pass off a $5 million red herring as an indictment of someones character, and Brady isn't the one who tried to set up the face of the NFL and the model franchise that he plays for as multiple-offenders.

Roger Goodell did all of that, but maybe - just maybe - there is a way out of this that no one sees coming and that would satisfy all involved plus pacify the other 31 franchises at the same time.

The hiring of former Arizona Cardinals' General manager Rod Graves to the position of Senior Vice President of Football Administration barely made a blip on most fans' radar screens - all except those fans that took exception to the fact that Graves also held the same position with the New York Jets - but to those in the know, his title may as well say "Senior Vice President of Keeping Roger Goodell out of hot water."

Or as noted NFL columnist Mike Florio mused, Graves' job description includes "Preventing hiccups from becoming hashtags."

Makes sense, particularly in light of the big piles of cow cookies that Goodell and his court jesters have repeatedly stepped in over the past two years, and is presented to the general public as a soft-spoken voice of reason who will "oversee all club and game related initiatives concerning the competition committee, general managers and head coaches." according to the introductory email generated by the league...

...and given his experience with the competition committee that he was a part of with the league's Management Council Executive Committee during his time in Arizona, it appears that the job was custom made for him as a ruse to mask the idea that Goodell needed a confidant that hasn't been a part of these piles of mule muffins - a shrewed maneuver that will lend a bit of integrity - by default, but integrity nevertheless - to an office that blew their wad on that notion a long time ago.

Graves was a miserable failure as a General Manager in Arizona, though he miraculously held on to his job for 13 years as Bill Bidwell's mouthpiece, which makes him the perfect candidate to do Roger Goodell's bidding - and while it hasn't been specifically mentioned, it is presumed that Graves' job title is actually what used to be now-retired Joel Bussert's gig as Senior Vice President of Player Personnel and Football Operations - a job that will make him a direct liaison between the two sides that currently don't trust one another.

And the perfect way to debut Graves in this capacity is for Goodell to either have him toe the company line to reinforce Goodell's hard line against the Patriots and Brady - sending all of this to court - or to switch gears by exonerating Brady, and giving most of the credit to Graves, who brings an outsiders' viewpoint to a static situation, then pledging to move on with Graves at the point.

Of course, this is all speculation.  Maybe the Graves hiring means nothing at all.  But in a situation that screams "Damage Control", this is a scenario that makes a lot of sense for both sides.

Either way, Patriots' fans can expect to see Tom Brady under center on opening night.

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