What Brady doesn’t get: When people think you cheated, the smirk is does as much damage as the conduct.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit appeals court reinstated the NFL’s four-game suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady yesterday. This overturned last year’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman, who had nullified the league’s suspension of the superstar quarterback. The three-judge panel of the appeals court wrote…
“We hold that the Commissioner properly exercised his broad discretion under the collective bargaining agreement and that his procedural rulings were properly grounded in that agreement and did not deprive Brady of fundamental fairness.”
It is important to note that the Court only ruled on whether NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had the power to suspend Brady and did not violate the player’s rights as a players union member by doing so. The NFL’s current deal with the players gives Goodell the kind of power Major League Baseball gave to its first commissioner after the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, when gamblers fixed the World Series. Goodell, like Landis, can use his discretion to punish a player for “conduct detrimental” to the game and the NFL. They did this because a disturbing number of NFL players were getting headlines for doing things that don’t comport with what the public expects of its paid heroes, like sucker-punching women, shooting people, getting in bar fights, and engaging in assorted felonies. The game also has a very successful coach, Brady’s coach, in fact, who has made it very clear that he will cheat whenever he can get away with it..
I’m not going to rehash the “Deflategate” incident: I wrote enough about it when it occurred. Nobody knows for certain if Tom Brady in fact did conspire with Patriots employees to cheat when his team was behind in a crucial play-off game, but we know this: Continue reading
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I have received a lot of mail seeking my reaction to a judge reinstating Tom Brady and vetoing Roger Goodell’s harsh punishment decree. My reaction is that this is bad for football, the NFL, and the culture, and one more step toward validating cheating as an accepted cultural norm, not just in sports, but in the nation itself. Once upon a time, sports were supposed to model good sportsmanship, integrity and fairness. This episode demonstrates how far from that we have come. It is a serious and troubling development.
From a legal standpoint, I get it. I assumed that Goodell knew the limits on his own power: silly me. Apparently the NFL’s labor deal neutered the absolute power of a Commissioner to do what he felt was necessary to protect the integrity of pro football. Unions seldom care about the integrity of their game, at least not when their members’ money is involved. The original sports league commissioner, baseball’s Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis—Damn! Why didn’t we name our son “Mount McKinley Marshall”?—banned Shoeless Joe Jackson and his team mates from baseball forever after a jury had acquitted them of throwing the World series for bribes. His drastic action probably saved baseball, and has influenced the sport to this day. Goodell’s failure, in contrast, promises to do lasting harm.
Remember, the judge didn’t exonerate Brady; he just ruled that Goodell didn’t have the power to punish him. There is no doubt in my mind that Brady cheated, just as there was no doubt in the NFL’s investigator’s mind. There is also no doubt that you could not prove Brady’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The idea behind absolute power in a sports commissioner is that sports contests must be viewed as being fair or people will stop watching, and any hint of cheating and corruption must be banished. I agree with that idea. Baseball flunked its most crucial recent test when Bud Selig didn’t have the guts to pull Barry Bonds off the field when he was breaking records on steroids (and everyone knew it); pro football has been flunking one test after another. Society is becoming more cynical and more tolerant of cheating, and I think professional sports are as much a cause as a symptom.
Why am I convinced Brady cheated? Many factors, none of which individually are conclusive:
- The conditions under which the cheating took place: bad weather, a play-off game, the team behind.
- The Patriots’ well-established contempt for the rules.
- The fact that a quarterback knows the feel of his tool, footballs, and that an experienced one like Brady could not possibly have been unaware that the balls he was throwing were even a little bit underinflated.
- Brady’s evasive, smug, wink-wink ha-ha demeanor in multiple venues regarding the incident, like a high school jerk who knows he’s getting away with something and thinks its hilarious.
- The immediate “everybody does it” defense from Brady’s fellow quarterbacks. (That’s not a defense. That’s an admission.)
- The “it didn’t matter, they would have won anyway” defense from the same quarters. This is also an admission of cheating. Cheating is wrong whether it works or not, and whether it is necessary or not. NFL fans don’t even know what’s wrong with cheating any more….because the players don’t.
- Some of the absurd defenses raised by Brady’s defenders, including his team, like the argument that one of the equipment guys involved in the incident was only called “the Deflator” in a contemporaneous text message because he was on a diet.
- The fact that Brady destroyed his cell phone to avoid its contents being searched. This is spoliation, the destruction of potentially incriminating evidence, and suggests, but doesn’t prove, guilt. If he had done it in a criminal investigation, it would have been itself a crime. Ethically, the act is just as wrong whether it is a crime or not. (See: Clinton, Hillary)
I believe most Patriots fans know he cheated too. They just don’t care: he’s their star, and the team won the Super Bowl. The ends justify the means. Continue reading
This is Harry Reid, but I just can’t stand looking at the man any more, so I put a bag over his head….
[It’s Atrocious People Day at Ethics Alarms, and no Atrocious People Day would be complete without Harry Reid.]
“I find it stunning that the National Football League is more concerned about how much air is in a football than with a racist franchise name that denigrates Native Americans across the country,” Senator Harry Reid said on the floor of the Senate.
Well, of course he does! After all, Harry thinks that cheating is great, if it works! He justified falsely accusing Mitt Romney of not paying taxes, confident in the laziness and gullibility of the American voter. “Why, he’s the Senate Majority Leader, Mildred! He wouldn’t lie to us!” And, as Harry pointed out, it worked—Romney lost, so Harry did the right thing. No wonder Reid doesn’t see why the NFL would care about Tom Brady pressuring low-level employees so they would help him cheat by secretly make the footballs easier for him to throw in a play-off game—after all, it worked! He won! Brady lied about it? So what? Reid approves of that, too. The statement above is a typical Reid lie: the NFL showed that it was concerned about cheating, lying, sportsmanship and integrity, not “the air in a football.”
But for the lawful owner of a business to be able to keep its 80 year old name that an entire city has cheered, worn on jerseys and caps, and made part of its culture, even though professional political correctness profiteers claimed to be grievously offended by the name because they wanted to be? That, to Harry Reid, is outrageous.*
What isn’t outrageous to Harry—just fair-minded, ethical Americans who understand such concepts as why it is wrong for the government to chill individual rights and the dangers of abuse of power by elected official—-is a U.S. Senator using his high office to attack and harass private citizens who are doing noting illegal, and only doing wrong according to Harry Reid’s Bizarro World values. Continue reading
This isn’t the graphic for this post for the reason you think it is…
The NFL surprised me a little yesterday—but pleasantly— by hitting New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his team with something approaching an appropriately tough penalty for cheating in a playoff game, lying about it, obstructing the NFL’s investigations, and then acting as if the whole mess was a joke. The NFL suspended Brady for four games, stripped the Patriots of their first-round draft pick in 2017 and a fourth-round pick as well, and fined the team $1 million for Brady’s “conduct detrimental to the integrity of the NFL” and for “failure to cooperate in the subsequent investigation.”
Exactly. It wasn’t the infraction alone that made this serious; it was the suggestion, magnified by Brady’s smug attitude, that cheating in an NFL play-off game is no big deal and nothing to be upset or ashamed about. The team also had to be punished, in part because cheating has long been the Patriots’ MO, and the team’s continued success at winning championships, without some negative consequences, is a neon sign advertisement for cheating in games, in school, in business, in life.
Finally, the draft choices were a crucial element, because taking away those really hurt the team. Otherwise it would have been just an affordable fine: Brady doesn’t need the millions he’ll lose by not playing four games, and the Patriots are more than a one-man team; they might still win all four. As for team owner Robert Kraft, he won’t even notice that the million dollars is missing. The draft choices the team will notice. Good.
But there is another injustice here that isn’t getting as much attention as the suspending of New England’s smirking, cheating star. Continue reading
As a born Bostonian, proud of the Hub’s tradition of elevating the nation’s ethical sensitivities, the spectacle of the old city’s football fans embarrassing themselves out of loyalty to a home town quarterback who doesn’t deserve it is nauseating. As a recent New York Times feature gruesomely illustrates, Tom Brady’s complicity in a successful cheat to get the New England Patriots into the Super Bowl has corrupted the usually reliable ethical values of this iconic city.
The information coming out of the NFL is that Brady’s cheating, lying about it, refusing to cooperate with the league’s investigation and—I hope this is taken into consideration—his smirking attitude about the incident since the results of the investigation were announced will get him suspended for 6-8 games. Think of it: Boston has been so corrupted by its sports star that it is now less ethically sensitive than Roger Goodell.
Now that’s corruption. Continue reading
Watch, if you can, this smirking, wink-wink-nudge-nudge exhibition by Tom Brady yesterday in front of his drooling, cheering, bleating, sheep-brained and ethically corrupt fans, as he mocks, in every expression, tone of voice and gesture, the idea that he should be even slightly ashamed of the NFL’s finding that he cheated to ease his team’s path to the Super Bowl, and that finding’s implication that Brady lied about it, blatantly and repeatedly:
If, after this intentional poke in the eye to anyone who believes sports contests should be played with fairness, honor and integrity, the NFL doesn’t give Brady a major suspension, and nothing less than half a season will qualify as major, fine the Patriots, fine Coach Belichick, and take some action to permanently label the team’s division and league championship as rotten, then we should declare pro-football a dangerous cultural menace, promoting cheating, lying and rule-breaking rather than sportsmanship to our youth. Continue reading
Now here’s a cute story about how a team cheated to get to the Super Bowl!
I have more important things to write about today than again exposing that blight on the already thoroughly blighted field of broadcast journalism, CNN’s Carol Costello, I know. I also know I shouldn’t watch her, or CNN for that matter, in the morning. But my options are limited to that or centerfold sunburst Robin Meade over at HLM, who causes me to question my motives. Fox I am boycotting entirely until Roger Ailes sends Bill O’Reilly to keep Brian Williams company; The Today Show and Good Morning America are no longer news sources, just cretinous fluff, rock songs and cooking segments with occasional left-biased interviews, whatever CBS is doing in the morning has been unwatchable since 1981, and MSNBC is a disgrace in every way, and I mean every way. Lately the embarrassment has been that a disturbing number of its “tax the rich into oblivion and turn the US into Sweden” talking heads haven’t been paying their income taxes. I can respect people who at least display personal integrity regarding the irresponsible policies they advocate, but MSNBC is crawling with hypocrites as well as Angry Left demagogues.
That leaves CNN, which in one respect is unfair: since I can’t stand watching the others and only catch their worst moments when they are flagged by Mediaite or a tipster, CNN gets a disproportional criticism here. It is almost impossible, however, to be unfair to Carol Costello. Continue reading