Deflategate is like a vampire; it will not die. Today, news comes that Jeanne Shaheen – US Senator from New Hampshire and former Governor of New Hampshire – has called upon the NFL to release the “PSI data” in its possession to demonstrate that indeed the NFL has “credible evidence” in the whole matter. No offense to Sen. Shaheen, but when a sports issue rises to the level that it attracts the attention of the Congress, you can be sure the story has achieved “vampire status”.
Just for fun, I went to Sen. Shaheen’s US Senate website and at the bottom the website lists “Jeanne’s Priorities”. In order, they are:
Economy and Jobs
Evidently, “Deflategate” and “PSI data” somehow shoehorned themselves into those priorities.
Meanwhile, Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times found a way to make light of a sidebar to this story. Tom Brady has expressed his support for Donald Trump during the Republican Presidential primaries. So, Dwight Perry juxtaposed Trump/Brady 2016 and came up with this:
“Destined to be a best-selling T-shirt in 31 of 32 NFL markets: ‘Make America inflate again.’”
The other story related to an NFL QB that could become a “vampire story” is the one related to Johnny Manziel. The latest development there is that Manziel has now been charged by a grand jury with “misdemeanor assault with bodily injury”; evidently, in Texas a conviction on such a charge could bring a penalty of a $5K fine and a year in jail. Manziel has until 5 May to turn himself in to the authorities in Texas; his bail has been set at $1,500 which should be an amount that he can readily post; he is not turning himself in to spend a long time in the hoosegow awaiting a trial.
There is a fine line indeed between a cynic and a realist and a lot depends on whether you agree with the person who might earn one of those labels. So call me a cynic if you must but somehow, I sense that the outcome of this matter will be something along these lines:
Manziel agrees to take anger management rehab and/or alcohol rehab and the authorities retain the right to subject him to random drug/alcohol testing for some period of time.
Manziel reaches a rapprochement with the victim – his former girlfriend – which includes a financial exchange, confidentiality clauses and her vow not to testify in any trial that might occur on these charges.
Then, this incident goes away. But the story probably will not die until or unless Johnny Manziel becomes a hermit living somewhere in the Himalayas in a community of yetis.
There is one more intersection of sports and jurisprudence to note today. In 1989 – yes, 27 years ago – there was an event in England known as the Hillsborough disaster. Liverpool was playing Nottingham Forest in Hillsborough in an FA Cup game and a “human crush” occurred that wound up killing 96 people – all Liverpool fans. An investigation in 1990 concluded that the physical plant at the stadium and the fencing used to keep the crowds off the pitch caused the problems and changes were made to all football stadiums to remedy those situations. It would seem as if that matter had been settled more than 2 decades ago.
However, in 2009, the British Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport called for the release of all the information that the police and other authorities had provided to the investigation in 1990. With that information in hand, something known as the Hillsborough Independent Panel was created and after several years of analysis, that panel concluded that the fans were not responsible for the tragedy. Basically, it concluded that there had been a cover-up and there was some culpability on the part of the emergency services and other public entities.
Earlier this week, a new inquest into this matter concluded that the fans themselves were not responsible at all for the events that led to these deaths and that the folks who died that day were “unlawfully killed”. Here are some of the findings in the report earlier this week:
The “Match Commander’s” actions amounted to gross negligence.
Police planning errors contributed to the dangerous situation that developed on that day.
Police and emergency responders “caused or contributed to the loss of life” by error or omission once the “human crush” began.
Here is a link to a lengthy report on what happened 25 years ago and what happened earlier this week.
To bring this full circle, it would seem that there is a parallel between Senator Shaheen’s call for release of data in Deflategate and the action of the British Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport that led to the new findings earlier this week. On the surface it would seem that it took someone with social and political stature to “make the situation right”. To be sure, that parallel does exist. I would suggest, however, that the matter in England involved the death of 96 people and the matter here in the US involves a 4-game suspension from NFL games.
I do not care how big a fan of the New England Patriots one is or if you think that tom Brady is the most wonderful human being on the planet; Deflategate does not rise to the level of importance of the Hillsborough disaster.
Finally, since the NFL Draft starts tonight and since I cited a Dwight Perry comment above, here is another one from Professor Perry related to the NFL Draft:
“LaQuan McGowan, the 405-pound Baylor tight end, could become the heaviest player ever drafted by an NFL team.
“Besides 405, his other key stats are 6-7 (height), 5.41 (40 time) and 7.3 (Richter Scale).”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………