At the outset of draft week, we suggested that, if the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit had a sense of flair, it would issue a ruling in the case arising from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension, necessarily overshadowing the final days before the rookie selection process. And not long after pressing the “publish” button, the Second Circuit’s decision upholding the suspension arrived.
Now, a full month after Brady filed a petition for a rehearing of the case, another decision could come at any time. If the request for a rehearing is denied, Brady will have to decide whether to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the request for a rehearing is granted, the suspension will be delayed indefinitely as the full Second Circuit court receives written briefs, schedules an oral argument, conducts oral argument, reaches a decision, and writes it up.
Regardless of the outcome of the litigation, strong feelings regarding the case remain, particularly among Patriots fans. Coincidentally (or not), the debut episode of Patriots fan Bill Simmons’ new HBO show, Any Given Wednesday, included a visit from actor and fellow Patriots fan Ben Affleck. But the substance of the current Batman’s arguments were overshadowed by the delivery. Apart from the continuous profanity (amazingly, the only time Affleck chose his words carefully came when he paused before questioning the “integrity” of the Commissioner), Affleck seemed off. Many believe that he slurred throughout the interview.
It’s an odd way for the first episode of the Simmons show to create buzz. The good news for Simmons is that, unlike Artie Lange on Joe Buck’s former HBO show, Affleck didn’t attack the host. The bad news for Simmons is that the only buzz created by the show came from nothing Simmons or his guests said but how one of his guests said what he said.
But for Affleck’s demeanor and speech, the headline could have been that Affleck, who has a friendship with Brady, possibly dropped a strong hint regarding Brady’s real reason for refusing to surrender his cell phone: “Maybe Tom Brady’s so f–king classy and such a f–king gentleman that he doesn’t want people to know that he may have reflected on his real opinion of some of his coworkers. You know, like guys he plays with, guys he plays against. His real feelings. I wouldn’t want guys who I didn’t think were very good to know I didn’t think they were very good. I wouldn’t want guys who I thought were great to know I thought they were great.”
Simmons addressed the situation indirectly on Twitter, pointing out that the interview was taped in the late morning (which cuts against the notion that Affleck had been drinking, supposedly) and that “Ben got fired up about DeflateGate during the convo, that’s it.”
Few who saw or heard the interview will believe that, but Simmons surely felt compelled to defend his guest. Doing so sends a strong message to any and all future guests on the show.
The fact that the show was taped so long before it aired invites another question. Did anyone notice that Affleck was off and in turn consider the possibility of delaying the interview by a few hours, or at least otherwise raising the question of whether it was in Affleck’s best interests to proceed in the condition he was in, whatever the reason for it was?
The question of what happened to Affleck and whether it was temporary or part of some new, Charlie Sheen-style persona have, at least for now, eclipsed #Deflategate. That could change at any moment, if the Second Circuit bangs the gavel on Brady’s request — especially if the answer is that Brady’s request for another chance to win the appeal has been denied.