The Preakness will happen later today. Favorite American Pharoah drew the #1 post position; and at Pimlico, that is not an advantageous draw. In a short field, it will not necessarily be as bad as it would be in a full field, but the post draw does add a marginal level of interest to the race. Lest you think I am being too critical of the Preakness Stakes, consider this item from Bob Molinaro’s column yesterday in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:
“Horsing around: The Preakness is a day away. There’s still time to pretend you care.”
For the record, that comment comes from a native of Baltimore…
Now that Tom Brady has decided to appeal his 4-game suspension and Roger Goodell announced that he will personally hear that appeal, let me outline here what I would emphasize in the appeal if I were representing Tom Brady. The obvious disclaimer here is that I am not a lawyer and there is no way that Tom Brady or his representatives would seek my opinion here, but this is the broad outline of the points I would try to make.
I would avoid any hint of an argument that would make it seem that I considered Ted Wells to be biased in his investigation on the basis that the NFL paid him. Ted Wells is by every report an experienced and highly regarded attorney; and unless there is video evidence of him doing something untoward and prejudicial in the matter, I would not go down that road even an inch.
I would point out, however, that Ted Wells did not have subpoena power to command documents/records nor were any of the folks he spoke to subject to perjury or cross-examination. That does not nullify what he found but it does weaken the degree to which his findings can be taken as undeniable facts. Wells himself supports this argument because all he could bring himself to say over his signature and therefore with his reputation on the line were things like “more probably than not” and “generally aware of” in his findings.
I would stress the amateurish – almost Keystone Kops – way that the league measured the pressure in the footballs at halftime. They used two gauges which did not agree with one another on even a single ball that was measured. Moreover, the difference in readings was as much as 0.4 psi – which happens to be 40% of the acceptable pressure range for footballs in a game (12.5 – 13.5 psi).
I would apologize for Brady’s agent’s commentary that the NFL and the Colts engaged in a “sting operation” unless – once again – I could present video evidence to show same.
I would argue that by all NFL precedents, this suspension is excessive. A comparison of the suspensions of other players relative to what they did – and the degree of certitude that they actually did what they did – is pretty easy to construct.
I would point out that Ted Wells’ characterization that Brady did not aid in the investigation by making his phone records available to him is more a statement of pique than substance. First, that lack of subpoena power forces Wells to deal with that possibility from the start. Second, in a previous NFL disciplinary matter, another star QB, did not share his phone records with the investigation and did not suffer a 4-game suspension. (See Brett Favre and his “sexting incident” where his penalty for failure to cooperate was a fine of $50K.)
Finally, I would hint that the punishment for Brady – and for the Pats by extension – is colored by the previous Spygate incident and that such a linkage is improper:
a. Because Brady had no part in stealing the signals according to the findings at the time
b. Even if he did have a part in stealing those signals, this is an unrelated matter and therefore added punishment would be the equivalent of “piling on” for the Spygate matter which the NFL did not put in Brady’s lap at the time.
I want to be clear here. I am not a New England Patriots’ fan; I have never lived anywhere in New England; I admire Tom Brady for his on-field accomplishments to the same degree that I admire Peyton Manning, Joe Montana, John Elway, Terry Bradshaw and John Unitas among others for their on-field accomplishments. If you want to interpret all of this through the prism that I am some kind of a fanboy, I cannot stop you from doing that. All I can tell you is that in the harsh light of reality, I am not a fanboy.
In the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson maters, I supported what the NFL – and Roger Goodell – did. Granted in the Ray Rice matter, it took some time for the league to try to impose a penalty stiffer than a 2-game suspension. Many others called for Roger Goodell’s head on a plate; back then, here is what I wrote about the evolving Ray Rice Episode.
My support then for the league and for Roger Goodell was based on the degree of certainty I had in the wrong-doing of Ray Rice; I had seen “conclusive video evidence”… There is nothing even remotely close to such a level of certainty in this entire matter. That is not Ted Wells’ fault, but it is the fault of the NFL for taking “more probably than not” and “generally aware” as a sufficient basis to “drop the hammer”.
Finally, just in case you were worried that hyperbole might be on the wane, CBS announced that Super Bowl 50 – to be telecast on CBS next February of course – will be “the most historic broadcast event of all time”. Really? Have the suits at CBS forgotten already about Katie Couric’s colonoscopy and that time Judge Judy had to interrupt and scold one or both of the “litigants” in her “court” and/or the final episode of My Mother the Car?
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………