Tag Archives: New England Patriots

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/30/2017: Is Robert Mueller Biased? Are The Patriots Cheating Again? Is Larry Tribe Deranged? Is President Trump A Robot?

Good Morning!

(Nothing better than waking up to a light dusting of snow!)

1 When you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…Alan Dershowitz, a Democrat and legal expert who has prominently avoided the ravages of anti-Trump mania that have crippled so many of his distinguished colleagues, tried to clarify several issues in the Mueller investigation on Fox News.

On Special Prosecutor Mueller personally and professionally: “I don’t think he’s partisan, I don’t think he cares whether the Democrats or the Republicans benefit from this.I think he’s a zealous prosecutor and if he were going after Hillary Clinton, he’d be going after her with as much zeal.”

On his investigative team: “Now that’s not true for some of the people on his staff. He should never have allowed these people to serve on this investigative staff, if they had the points of view that they’ve had towards Hillary Clinton and towards Donald Trump. That was a mistake…when you’re going after a president or a presidential candidate, you have to be ‘Caesar’s wife,’ you have to be above reproach, and he didn’t do a good enough job in vetting the people that he brought on to the prosecution and the investigative team, and that hurts his credibility.”

Correct, and obviously correct. So why is the White House and Fox News being criticized daily for questioning the legitimacy, fairness, objectivity, and independence of the investigation? It doesn’t matter if Mueller is personally fair and objective if he appoints biased and conflicted lawyers to do the work. That still means the investigation is compromised and untrustworthy. It also means that Mueller undermined the investigation exactly the way he could not afford to if he wanted its results to be accepted.

There is nothing inappropriate about those being investigated pointing out bias, incompetence and conflicts of interest by the investigators. Criticism of a legitimate complaint, backed up by facts, indicates that those critics  don’t care about bias, incompetence and conflicts of interest, if they lead to the result they crave.

2. Suspicion! Why would the NFL’s New England Patriots sign a washed-up, 39-year-old Pittsburgh Steelers veteran, James Harrison, with only one game left in the regular season, at a cost of about $60,000 for that game and for any play-off games the Patriots participate in? Harrison has barely played all season, is no longer a top performer, and was a discordant and disruptive presence in the locker room. Many sportswriters and fans believe that he is being paid by New England to be a turncoat, and to reveal  Steelers’ secrets that might provide an edge if the Patriots, as many expect, have to defeat Pittsburgh on the way to another Super Bowl. The Patriots have been caught cheating more than once. Would this be cheating?

I assume not, unless Harrison had an enforceable non disclosure clause that prohibited him from revealing Steelers plays and strategies even after he was no longer on the team. Indeed, it would be unethical for Harrison not to help his new team in any way possible. When New England signed him, they signed his body, mind and accumulated experience. Continue reading

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Super Bowl Sunday Ethics Quote Of The Day: Professor David DeSteno

pro-brady

“It’s not about the true facts, or about how honest you believe a group is, or what the group’s past behavior is. It doesn’t matter what sport it is, or what team it is, or even if it’s sports at all. Just being a part of a group, any group, is enough to excuse moral transgressions because in some way, you’re benefiting from it. Your moral compass shifts.”

—-David DeSteno, Northeastern University Professor of psychology, explaining why Boston fans believe the New England Patriots, their coach, Bill Belichik, and their star quarterback, Tom Brady, are as pure as the driven snow, while the rest of the country sees them as detestable

The professor’s point will be familiar to any Ethics Alarms readers who have perused the various pots here regarding cognitive dissonance, or even those familiar with the mantra, “Bias makes you stupid.”  However, he has done some interesting research on the phenomenon described in the Times Sports article this morning.

In a psychological experiment, researchers separated people into two groups and offered some of them an option: Complete a fun, 10-minute task, or take on a difficult, 45-minute one. Placed in a room alone, they were told to choose which task they would have to do, or let a coin flip decide. Either way, the person entering the room next would be left with the other task.

Afterward, those people were asked to rate how fairly they had acted, and 90 percent said they had been fair. Except that they were lying. In fact, they had picked the easy task for themselves, without even flipping the coin, wrongly believing that no one was watching…

DeSteno and his former student Piercarlo Valdesolo conducted studies that showed that even strangers placed into groups quickly start favoring the people in their group, as they would favor themselves, even if that group was created randomly, and only minutes earlier. Morality, as it turns out, can change by the second, and for no good reason.

Professor DeSteno told the Times that this isn’t a conscious decision, but an innate survival reaction…. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Research and Scholarship, Sports

A Federal Court Reinstates Tom Brady’s Suspension For Cheating

Good.

What Brady doesn't get: When people think you cheated, the smirk is does as much damage as the conduct.

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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The Unethical Tom Brady Conduct He Isn’t Being Punished For

This isn't the graphic for this post for the reason you think it is...

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

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Beware of Heroes: Why Tom Brady Is An Ethics Corrupter

fallen heroAs 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

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Now We Know: Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady Is A Fick*

Yechhh.

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

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No, Carol Costello, You Contemptible Fool, Cheating Isn’t Funny

Now here's a cute story about how a team cheated to get to the Super Bowl!

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

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