(Above image courtesy of Elsa/Getty Images)
* Although every effort has been made for this article to be objective, it discusses politics as it relates to current events in sports. Any views expressed in this article are only views of the writer, and not necessarily On The Bench Report.
Deflate-Gate. How a story about the air pressure of footballs can make people and situations unrelated to Tom Brady and The New England Patriots nervous.
Back in May, I wrote an article in response to Aaron Rodgers admitting he had the footballs he used in Green Bay Packers games over inflated. The Cliff’s Notes version of that article was that if Tom Brady gets nailed for under inflated footballs, then Aaron Rodgers admission could possibly get suspended as well. Of course, that’s probably not going to happen, but you never know what goes on inside the head of Roger Goodell.
Fast forward to today and the news of Roger Goodell upholding Tom Brady’s 4 game suspension due in part to newly reported evidence. To the Brady-haters, who are the residents of the 44 states that are not in New England, that evidence is damning.
First, let’s revisit the Deflate-Gate timeline:
- January 18 – The date of the AFC Championship, when said balls were allegedly deflated by the Patriots’ locker room attendant, Jim McNally.
- January 20 – The NFL finds that 11 balls the Patriots used in the AFC game were outside of the required PSI.
- January 23 – The NFL announces Ted Wells is conducting an investigation.
- May 6 – The Wells report is released stating that it is “more probable than not that Tom Brady was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls.”
- May 11 – The NFL levies Tom Brady’s 4 game suspension as well as the Patriots’ fine and loss of draft picks.
- May 14 – The NFLPA files an appeal to the NFL of Tom Brady’s suspension.
- June 23 – Tom Brady’s 10 hour appeal hearing led by Roger Goodell.
- July 28 – Roger Goodell upholds Tom Brady’s suspension.
One key piece of information is missing from the timeline that was not made public until today. We all know that Brady was asked to turn over his text messages during the investigation, but refused. However, the investigators found out on June 18, 5 days before Brady’s hearing, that Brady got a new cell phone and told his assistant to destroy his old one. Right in the middle of the investigation!
Brady said he routinely gets new cell phones and has his assistants destroy his old ones. Is this what celebrities really have to go through? I have no idea, because that sounds like a case of RPP (Rich People Problems).
Because of Brady’s RPP, he, and all of New England, believes that he is still innocent. Players don’t get suspended for being innocent, so Brady’s and the NFLPA’s only recourse is to take the matter to the next logical appeal system – The Federal Courts. Don’t ask me for the details of how this is done or why it can happen, because that’s above my pay grade. So we’ll broadly summarize that Brady is appealing to the Fed.
So what does this have to do with Hillary Clinton or Lois Lerner? Regardless of your political beliefs, they are both in the news about their involvement in electronic messages and the hardware that was used for communication. Just like Brady’s text messages and his cell phone.
Here is a summary of the facts that have been reported about the Clinton and Lerner situations:
- Hillary Clinton: Some Republicans in Congress claim there exists some communication from Hillary Clinton about Benghazi while she was at Secretary of State that would help the Benghazi investigation. Hillary Clinton admitted she sent emails over a personal email server, but claims they are not related to Benghazi nor are they classified. Because, as the general public has recently learned, it is illegal to transmit classified government information over a non-government system. So she refuses to turn over the emails. These email servers were found by two inspectors general and the FBI to have contained some classified emails related to her duties as Secretary of State. Clinton had vehemently denied this. The Republicans are doing what any opposing party would do. And the watchdog group, Judicial Watch, has filed a lawsuit, which would presumably be a Federal lawsuit. There are more details to the story, and enough for a sports website. So to summarize, Hillary Clinton is allegedly keeping emails from investigators.
- Lois Lerner: There had been allegations that the IRS targeted Tea Party groups applying for non-profit status. When the Tea Party wanted answers, they were told that the IRS’s hard drives containing any emails during some helpful period had all crashed, and the backup tapes were all erased. So 24,000 IRS emails that may or may not have information relating to the Tea Party’s request for non-profit status are gone. Lois Lerner, who was the Director of Exempt Organizations Unit of the IRS, has had to answer as to why her emails are gone, but invoked her 5th Amendment rights. And the Tea Party’s lawsuit against the IRS was dismissed on October 23, 2014 by the federal Judge Reggie B. Walton. So to summarize, the emails that from Lois Lerner that investigators are requesting no longer exist, because her hard drive crashed and the backup tapes were erased.
Are there exact parallels between Hillary Clinton’s emails, Lois Lerner’s emails, and Tom Brady’s text messages? Not exact. But there are striking similarities.
First, would a federal judge tell the NFL to drop the charges against Tom Brady like was done for Lois Lerner? Judge Walton stated “Unless an actual, ongoing controversy exists in this case, this Court is without power to decide it.” The cell phone evidence is gone, and Tom Brady is not currently deflating footballs, nor is it more probable than not that he is generally aware that footballs are still be deflated.
Or is Hillary Clinton going to become the biggest, or only, Tom Brady fan in the state of New York? Let’s say that the federal judge rules against Tom Brady, saying that destroying evidence is reason to find someone guilty. Not good precedent for Hillary. Hillary probably wants Brady and Goodell to hug it out, or for the judge to side with Brady, pulling a Johnny Cochran defense invoking “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit”.
There is no intersection of sports and politics here at On The Bench Report, only parallels.
Do I really believe that the outcome of Hillary Clinton’s case is dependent on what a federal judge finds with Tom Brady’s case? Not at all. Do I really believe that Brady’s and Clinton’s cases will be dropped because Judge Walton dropped the charges against Lois Lerner and the IRS? Not one bit.
But it is interesting to put Tom Brady’s case in perspective. He is taking his suspension from the NFL for allegedly being generally aware that footballs were more probable than not being deflated, and then allegedly purposefully having evidence destroyed.
This is the game of football. People know more about Deflate-Gate than about Hillary’s email server and Lerner’s crashed hard drive combined. People are more passionate about Brady’s innocence or guilt than about what is happening in real life. That is even proven by the number of words and the level of detail I dedicated each to Tom Brady, Hillary Clinton, and Lois Lerner.
Sorry Fantasy Footballers, Brady’s suspension is not likely to get settled before Draft Day.