On January 18, 2015 (over six months ago!), the New England Patriots won the AFC Championship game, thereby earning the right to play in the Super Bowl. Immediately after the game, whispers began that the Patriots were using under-inflated footballs – for those unfamiliar with the game, this makes them easier to throw and catch, which can theoretically provide competitive advantages. Or, you know, in plainer language: they cheated. The resulting scandal, dubbed Deflategate, refused to die. It dominated Super Bowl coverage and after laying low for a little while, kicked back into full steam when the league heavily fined the Patriots and suspended douchebag commander in chief Tom Brady for four games. Brady appealed his suspension, and a ruling on that appeal is expected this week.
I’m desperate to write an article exulting in Brady’s demise. Mocking his tainted image. Calling all of his accomplishments into question. Making snide comments such as “at least my favorite quarterbacks have the requisite hand strength to throw a regulation football.” Taunting all Patriots fans by shouting asterisk at the top of lungs. I want to revel in this moment. Brady is an obnoxious, Uggs hawking, whiny little shit with the smuggest, most punchable face I’ve ever seen. Here’s the thing that is 100% true about Brady, [editor’s note: 219 words have been removed from this article; re: slander]. Seriously, I have proof [he does not].
This whole situation should be all that I’ve ever wanted. My sports nemesis has been disgraced in the public eye. Since I want all of the bad things in the world to happen to Brady, it stands to reason that if his suspension is upheld, glorious personal satisfaction will follow. And yet, if he loses his appeal… that means NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has won, a result that is completely unacceptable.
I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but: I want Brady to win.
DAMN IT ALL. Read me and understand, my friends. For the rest of my life, I will remember that Goodell made me side with Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr., a sentence that just made me puke into my own mouth. From this day until my last, whenever I think of Goodell it will immediately recall the putrid taste of my own vomit. The burning resentment I feel at this exact moment will remain long after old age and senility has robbed me of all my precious memories.
Brady’s crime is being a stellar quarterback for a team that routinely trounces my favorite team in the playoffs. Obviously, this is unforgiveable on a small, petty, personal scale.
Goodell’s crime is being such a horrifically shitty, reactionary twat – for being so mind numbingly awful at his job – that there are legitimate discussions that football will cease to exist within my lifetime. To understand Goodell’s job, think of him as the CEO of the NFL and the 32 team owners as the board of directors. Goodell has tremendous power to run the NFL so long as he retains the support of his owners. His business represents one of the most profitable brands and one of the most popular forms of entertainment in America. The NFL currently generates around $10 Billion dollars of revenue every year. His “leadership” doesn’t come cheap: he made an absolutely ludicrous $35 million dollars in 2013. The NFL recently gave up its tax exempt status, which means they no longer need to report how much their commissioner gets paid. Which is probably for this best, because his completely unjustified salary is an embarrassing talking point every time Goodell screws the pooch. Which is often.
Just off the top of my head, here is a list of the times Goodell has stuck his metaphorical penis into the proverbial light socket:
Concussions/CTE. Football is a violent game, where freakish behemoths smash into each other at top speed with the express intent to inflict bodily harm onto others. Shockingly, this may not be good for their health. It may, in fact, lead to horrific head trauma. The NFL may or may not have known this for a long time. It might have ignored all of the evidence. The league was allegedly vague about the long term effects of playing football on the human body. What for sure happened is that on Goodell’s watch, the NFL lost a massive class action lawsuit to former players. And Goodell managed to be condescending and sanctimonious at every turn.
Bountygate. To show that he was serious about making the game safer (but mostly as an overreaction to public sentiment), Goodell went scorched earth on the New Orleans Saints when it was reported that they were paying their players bounties for injuring opposing teams. He suspended everybody who might have been involved, including team executives, coaches and players, fined the team and took away draft picks. While the coaching staff and the organization accepted responsibility for their actions, most of the players involved pushed back based on the lack of evidence against them. Many of Goodell’s original penalties were ultimately overturned during appeals. Hold tight, folks, because overreaction to public sentiment and overturned suspensions are going to be a recurring theme!
Player Conduct Policy. In order to curb off-field issues and help protect the NFL’s image, the league instituted a conduct policy which would police the players’ personal lives. At the time, it was seen as overly harsh, especially when suspensions were handed down to players who had not been convicted of crimes. As it turns out, the policy wasn’t nearly harsh enough! But we’ll get to that in a moment.
Redskins. There is an NFL team whose name is a racial slur. I get that the owner of the team is technically one of his 32 bosses, but statements such as: “I grew up as a Washington Redskins fan. I always looked at that as something we were proud of” go beyond silent consent to outright public support. I don’t even know what to fucking say.
Replacement Referees. In 2012, the NFL did not achieve a labor agreement with its standard referees. Goodell locked them out and then authorized the spots to be filled by low-level college and high school referees. It was an unmitigated disaster, chock full of missed calls, botched rulings, players running roughshod over the refs and a play call on national television that was so comically incorrect that it got its own label: “The Fail Mary.”
Spygate. The New England Patriots were punished for attempting to video tape the defensive signals of another team. He fined head coach Bill Belichick, fined the team and took future draft picks away from them. And then, because LOL FUCK YOU, Goodell destroyed all of the evidence he had gathered during his investigation.
Domestic Violence. This is the big one. In recent years, there have been a lot of high profile domestic violence cases involving NFL players and Goodell has shit the bed every single time.
When video surfaced that showed Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiancée out of a god damned elevator, Goodell originally thought that two games was sufficient punishment. The NFL even managed to float out the story that Rice’s fiancée was just as much to blame. This was insulting enough, but got worse when the inevitable video of Rice cold cocking his fiancée inside of the elevator was released. When everybody understandably lost their collective shit Goodell overreacted and handed down an indefinite suspension. Ray Rice appealed, and won. But that wasn’t before Goodell interviewed the victim of Rice’s domestic violence WHILE HE WAS SITTING IN THE ROOM and more than likely lied about having access to the second video.
On the heels of this controversy, Adrian Peterson took a switch to his 4 year old son, leaving welts and cuts all over the child’s body. Reacting to public sentiment, the NFL responded with an indefinite suspension that was later overturned in appeals.
Greg Hardy, after allegedly beating his girlfriend and tossing her onto a couch full of loaded assault rifles, was allowed to play, and then was suspended with pay, and then was given an official 10 game suspension. After Hardy sorted out his legal troubles, this suspension was later reduced to four games.
When it comes to domestic violence, the pattern that Goodell has consistently displayed is to initially react as little as possible until advertising dollars are threatened, at which point he will take a “tough stand” and “send a message,” which is then later overturned because he has not a single fucking clue how to properly legislate these sorts of issues.
Which brings us to Deflategate. And trust me, I hate Roger Goodell for making me type all of this. Deflating footballs did not materially affect the fucking beat down which the Patriots handed to the Colts. Deflating footballs is tampering with game equipment – cheating to be sure, but minor. Every single team in the NFL cheats in some way. Something about this incident caught the public eye, and everybody outside of New England was more than happy to watch the Patriots take another scandal to the chin, so the Law and Order Commissioner got back onto his high horse and slammed down another ham handed, overblown punishment. For MAYBE being involved in deflating footballs, Brady is potentially sitting out just as many games as the guy who MAYBE beat the hell out of his girlfriend.
That’s the biggest problem I have with Brady’s suspension. To quote Doc Holliday from Tombstone, my hypocrisy goes only so far. I can’t reconcile these potential penalties. Every single human being should be able to see the difference between tampering with equipment and (allegedly) hurting another person.
Secondly, Goodell keeps his job because he’s good at increasing revenue. At everything else, he is bumbling and incompetent. Eventually, something will blow up in his face badly enough that he will either discover shame (unlikely), or the owners will be forced to replace him. Every single fan of the NFL should be rooting for this.
Third: Goodell is judge, jury and executioner for all matters relating to player conduct. Any appeal of his rulings is reviewed by HIM. In order to appeal his rulings, players and organizations literally have to sue the NFL. If Brady’s suspension is upheld, this will be his recourse. This takes time, and has a negative effect on players and teams. The Patriots are about to enter training camp without knowing whether their franchise quarterback will be playing 12 games or 16 games. And part of me giggles because it’s the Patriots, but I’m legitimately afraid of what will happen if Goodell, the fucking dolt, ever has cause to turn his gaze on my team. This man has proven again and again that he can’t get a single damn thing correct, and like hell I want him anywhere near my team. Every single fan of the NFL should be afraid of this.
I love football. Goodell is a plague upon that which I love. The enemy of my enemy becomes my (very temporary) friend. So… go… Tom Brady.
Fuck. I need to go take a shower now.