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NFLPA sues NFL and Management Council in Minnesota

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On Tuesday, the NFL filed a four-page lawsuit against the NFLPA in Manhattan. On Wednesday, the NFLPA filed a much longer lawsuit against the NFL and the NFL Management Council in Minnesota.

The 54-page petition requests that the the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota vacate the arbitration award in the Tom Brady case, arguing that the four-game suspension “defies” the Court’s decision in the recent Adrian Peterson case, “ignores” the “law of the shop” and essence of the labor deal, and “gives the back of the hand” to fundamental principles of “procedural fairness and arbitrator bias.”

The Peterson case is relevant because, according to the NFLPA, Judge David Doty concluded that the NFL is required to give players advance notice of potential discipline.

“Brady had no notice of the disciplinary standards that would be applied,” the petition says at page 3, “and no notice of the potential penalties.”

The petition also points out that the league and the NFLPA collectively bargained the punishment for “alleged equipment tampering by players,” and that the NFL was not permitted to disregard those provisions without advance notice.

The petition likewise explains that the “Competitive Integrity Policy” was “never given” to players, and that it specifically applies only to teams, not to players.

As to the allegation that Brady failed to cooperate with the investigation, the NFLPA argues that “a fine is the only penalty that has ever been upheld in such circumstances.” (In 2010, Brett Favre was fined $50,000 for failing to cooperate with an investigation regarding allegations that he texted inappropriate photos to a Jets employee.)

More generally, the petition claims that the discipline violates the “law of the shop” that requires fair and consistent treatment of players by basing Brady’s discipline on air-pressure tests that “did not generate reliable information,” and that the arbitrator (Commissioner Roger Goodell) was “evidently partial.”

As to the discipline based on air pressure, the NFLPA notes that the NFL first issued procedures for ball pressure testing only three days ago — “a stark concession that it had no procedures in place when the data on which Brady’s punishment was based was collected.”

At page 8, the petition calls the 20-page ruling from Commissioner Roger Goodell “little more than an exercise in rehashing the [Ted] Wells Report,” and accuses Goodell of making “unfounded, provocative and mystifying attacks on Brady’s integrity.”

As to that point, the NFLPA dusts off the ruling of former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue in the bounty case of 2012, who found that the NFL has never suspended players solely for obstructing an NFL investigation: “In my forty years of association with the NFL, I am aware of many instances of denials in disciplinary proceedings that proved to be false, but I cannot recall any suspension for such fabrication. This is no evidence of a record of past suspensions based purely on obstructing a League investigation.”

Right or wrong, the fact that the NFL doesn’t, and hasn’t, suspended players for such behavior arguably means that the NFL can’t suddenly start doing it, without collective bargaining. Which means that the NFL technically cannot suspend Brady for failing to cooperate — and that no players can be suspended for failing to cooperate until the NFL secures the ability to do so at the bargaining table.

The document also contains a lengthy quote from the statement provided on Wednesday by Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Which really isn’t surprising. Kraft’s verbal challenge to the league office sounds a lot like the kind of rhetoric for which NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith often draws criticism.

This time around, the union Smith runs and the team Kraft owns have one big thing in common: They agree in their mutual strong criticism of the NFL.

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Clock is ticking for Seahawks and Russell Wilson

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At some point between now and Thursday night, the Seahawks and quarterback Russell Wilson will work out a new contract. Or they won’t. If they don’t, they won’t talk about the situation any further until after the season ends.

Forgotten (or perhaps never noticed) in the hours since the Tom Brady ruling appeared is the notion that the $21 million annual offer to Wilson reflects not the total value of a new deal, but the “new money” average.

Since Tuesday morning, PFT has determined that, indeed, the $21 million offer refers not to total value but includes the $1.5 million Wilson is due to make under the final year of his rookie deal. Which means that, if Seattle has offered $21 million per year over four years in “new money,” the total value is $85.5 million over five years — a total value of $17.1 million per year.

For any deal done after 2015, the “new money” average will match the total value. And Wilson will likely be able to get a lot more than $21 million per year, from the Seahawks or someone else.

Is Wilson being greedy if he tries to get $25 million per year or more? Before answering that question, consider this: He has brought tremendous value to the franchise over the last three years, for total compensation of $2.1 million. So when talking about what he deserves for the future, it’s important to ponder what he deserves for the past.

For now, the question is whether the Seahawks and Wilson can find a middle ground in the present, or at least in the next 24-36 hours, both as to total value and the amount of the deal that is fully guaranteed. If they can’t, and if Wilson sticks to his vow to not talk contract after training camp starts, a new clock will start ticking — and the next countdown could end with a boom.

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Eric Berry on fighting cancer: Fear nothing, attack everything

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Chiefs safety Eric Berry met the media after his return to practice on Wednesday and sent a message of determination that explains why he’s back to work less than a year after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Berry was flanked by his parents, who he thanked along with the Chiefs, his teammates and many others for supporting him during his fight, and said that keeping a positive mindset was crucial to dealing with the disease. Part of that positive mindset became a motto of sorts for Berry over the last eight months.

“Fear nothing, attack everything,” Berry said.

It wasn’t always easy to do that. Berry talked about the fear he had that he would die in his sleep and how he had to set a goal of getting out of bed some days because of the toll that the treatment was taking on him. He also talked about the difficulties of working out and staying in shape while going through chemotherapy.

“There would be times I would work out and just end up crying after the workout because, first of all, I couldn’t believe that I made it through the workout, I couldn’t believe it was that hard,” Berry said. “I was trying to push myself to the limit, I couldn’t push myself how I wanted to. I had to break it down to really embracing the process and understand that everything wasn’t going to come back overnight. When you add chemo into something like this, that’s a whole different monster because it literally feels like you’re dying.”

Berry said the last eight months were a “battle every day” to get back to the spot he found himself in on Wednesday. Berry fought that battle very well and we wish him continued health and success for years and years to come.

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NFLPA must respond to NFL lawsuit by August 13

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The #DeflateGate saga is sufficiently compelling to spawn not one but two federal lawsuits. The second one will be filed soon in Minnesota. The first was filed Tuesday in New York.

Via a lawyer with both a Twitter and PACER account, the New York case has been assigned to Judge Richard M. Berman. Berman has directed the NFLPA to respond to the initial filing by August 13, with this note: “Court will set a conference following receipt of defendant’s response.”

Judge Berman, a senior-status jurist who was appointed to the bench by President Bill Clinton, has been characterized as a “liberal judge.” That’s good news for the NFLPA, since the NFLPA is a union and liberal judges tend to be more favorable to the interests of labor than management.

Of course, the NFLPA views Judge David Doty as an even better option, and Judge Bergman’s initial order gives the union an opening to push the Minnesota case forward until August 13. So there’s a chance the NFLPA will try to push things very aggressively in Judge Doty’s courtroom, with the “liberal judge” in New York possibly inclined to stand down and let Judge Doty run with this one.

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When Deflatgate subsides, focus will turn to Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo AP

For now, all the talk in New England is about Tom Brady and his four-game suspension to start the season. Eventually, the focus will begin to shift to Jimmy Garoppolo, who is expected to start in Brady’s absence.

Garoppolo, whom the Patriots chose in the second round of last year’s draft, appears to be the Week One starter by default. The only other quarterback on the Patriots’ roster, Matt Flynn, opened camp on the non-football injury list, so at the moment Garoppolo doesn’t even have any competition for the role of Brady’s replacement.

So far we haven’t seen enough of Garoppolo to know what kind of quarterback he’ll be. The best-case scenario for the Patriots is that Garoppolo is that he’s grown a lot during his first full NFL offseason, just as Brady did in 2011: Brady was lauded by teammates for improving significantly during the offseason after his rookie year, and he ended up leading the Patriots to the Super Bowl when he was called upon to fill in for Drew Bledsoe.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked today about whether Garoppolo has shown improvement during minicamps, but Belichick was characteristically tight-lipped.

“Spring camps are teaching camps, so we got a lot of reps for everybody,” Belichick said. “I think we taught a lot of football and now we have to go out and practice it on an individual basis and then eventually we get to pads, on a padded level, where the timing and execution is a little bit different and start to build into the things that are situationally that we didn’t do as much of in the spring.”

Asked again about whether Garoppolo specifically improved in the spring, Belichick again answered only about the team generally.

“I think everybody learned a lot in the spring,” Belichick said. “I think the rookies learned a lot. I think the veterans learned a lot. It’s the start of a season. It’s a preparation for training camp. Now is when we really get to go out there and execute and work on it at a higher tempo and higher level.”

The Patriots need Garoppolo to show he can play at a high level for the four games when he takes over for Brady on September 10 against the Steelers.

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NFLPA plans to request a ruling by September 4

Fans Attend "Free Tom Brady" Rally Getty Images

As #DeflateGate finally heads to the place we always knew it would end, the NFL Players Association has a specific plan in mind for dealing with the fact that time is of the essence.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFLPA plans to ask for a ruling on Brady’s challenge to the suspension by Friday, September 4. Alternatively, the NFLPA will ask for an order allowing Brady to play while the litigation proceeds.

The fact that the parties initially will be squabbling over whether the case should proceed in New York (where the NFL already has filed a lawsuit) or in Minnesota (where the NFLPA is expected to file) could inject an initial delay, making it harder to wrap up the lawsuit quickly. Even so, the NFLPA believes that the case can be resolved simply with written submissions from the parties, with no need for evidence to be presented in court — or even for oral arguments on the parties’ respective positions.

Even if a ruling comes by September 4, the NFLPA will need to decide whether to seek an order allowing Brady to play if Brady loses and the NFLPA intends to appeal the decision. If that happens, Brady could play the entire NFL season without the case being resolved.

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NFL asks police to keep an eye out for Patriots fans at Goodell’s house

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The NFL is reportedly concerned about Commissioner Roger Goodell’s personal safety as a result of his decision to suspend Tom Brady for the first four games of the season.

According to the Portland Press Herald, Goodell owns a $6.5 million house in Scarborough, Maine, an area where most fans’ allegiance is to the Patriots. As a result, the NFL contacted Scarborough police just before Goodell announced his decision to uphold Brady’s suspension.

They did reach out and let us know about the decision and that it might not be popular,” said Scarborough Police Chief Robbie Moulton.

Moulton added that there have been no problems or threats, but the police department is aware of the possibility of fans expressing their displeasure if Goodell makes an unpopular decision.

“We’re aware of the situation and will be patrolling the area certainly,” Moulton said. “In the past, when there have been unpopular decisions, there have been emails and things. I wouldn’t say it rose to the level of threats, but certainly expressing unhappiness.”

It should go without saying that Goodell and his family should be free of threats and harassment in their own home. If Goodell is concerned about the reactions of Patriots fans around his home, however, it will probably be a long time before he takes in a game at Gillette Stadium.

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Report: Kam Chancellor wants more money, threatens holdout

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Seattle safety Kam Chancellor may not be there when the Seahawks report to training camp.

Chancellor wants more money and has told the Seahawks he is strongly considering a holdout, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

The 27-year-old Chancellor still has three seasons remaining on the contract he signed in 2013 and is scheduled to count $5.65 million against the Seahawks’ salary cap this year, so he wouldn’t appear at first blush to have a lot of leverage.

But he’s an important part of the league’s best defense, and he becomes even more important with the Seahawks’ secondary depleted by the shoulder injury suffered by Earl Thomas in the Super Bowl, an injury that may keep Thomas out at the start of the regular season. And the Seahawks showed last year with Marshawn Lynch that they’re willing to re-do a player’s deal if that’s what they need to do to get that player in camp.

So Chancellor might have a shot at a raise if he plays his cards right. And if he holds out for a significant period of time, the Seahawks will be scrambling at safety.

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Bill Belichick on Brady suspension: It’s already been addressed

Bill Belichick AP

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision to uphold Tom Brady’s four-game suspension has led to angry statements in response from Brady, his agent, the NFLPA and Patriots owner Robert Kraft, but coach Bill Belichick didn’t offer any additional thoughts during his training camp press conference on Wednesday morning.

Belichick opened the presser by referencing the other statements and saying that there’s “nothing really to talk about there” from his perspective. That didn’t stop questions from being asked, however, and Belichick showed he hasn’t lost his knack for sticking with the same answer.

“Q: Is there something flawed about the system here in the organization that you keep ending up in these cheating controversies? Can you explain why?

BB: It’s already been addressed.

Q: Could you elaborate a little?

BB: No.

Q: Why not?

BB: Because it’s already been addressed.

Q: Well, people have a lot of questions – the public, fans.

BB: You heard what Robert just said. It’s already been addressed. Maybe you ought to go back and look at your notes.

Q: I want your opinion.

BB: It’s already been addressed.”

Questions about conversations with Brady, the challenges of preparing the team when they might not have Brady for the first four games of the season and why the team suspended Jim McNally and John Jastremski were waved away just as easily with Belichick repeating that the team is focused only on the 2015 season. No one who’s familiar with the Patriots coach would have expected anything too different from Belichick and we wouldn’t expect anything to change from the coach even as fireworks continue to be lobbed back and forth by everyone else involved.

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Robert Kraft tees off on Brady ruling

Robert Kraft AP

[Editor’s note: On Wednesday morning, Patriots owner Robert Kraft unexpectedly provided a statement to the media before a previously-scheduled press conference from coach Bill Belichick. The full text of Robert Kraft’s statement appears below.]

I felt it was important to make a statement today, prior to the start of training camp. After this, I will not be talking about this matter until after the legal process plays itself out, and I would advise everyone in the organization to do the same and just concentrate on preparation for the 2015 season.

The decision handed down by the league yesterday is unfathomable to me. It is routine for discipline in the NFL to be reduced upon appeal. In the vast majority of these cases, there is tangible and hard evidence of the infraction for which the discipline is being imposed, and still the initial penalty gets reduced. Six months removed from the AFC championship game, the league still has no hard evidence of anybody doing anything to tamper with the PSI levels of footballs.

I continue to believe and unequivocally support Tom Brady. I first and foremost need to apologize to our fans, because I truly believe what I did in May, given the actual evidence of the situation and the league’s history on discipline matters, would make it much easier for the league to exonerate Tom Brady.

Unfortunately, I was wrong.

The league’s handling of this entire process has been extremely frustrating and disconcerting. I will never understand why an initial erroneous report regarding the PSI level of footballs was leaked by a source from the NFL a few days after the AFC championship game, [and] was never corrected by those who had the correct information. For four months, that report cast aspersions and shaped public opinion.

Yesterday’s decision by Commissioner Goodell was released in a similar manner, under an erroneous headline that read, “Tom Brady destroyed his cellphone.” This headline was designed to capture headlines across the country and obscure evidence regarding the tampering of air pressure in footballs. It intentionally implied nefarious behavior and minimized the acknowledgement that Tom provided the history of every number he texted during that relevant time frame. And we had already provided the league with every cellphone of every non-NFLPA that they requested, including head coach Bill Belichick.

Tom Brady is a person of great integrity, and is a great ambassador of the game, both on and off the field. Yet for reasons that I cannot comprehend, there are those in the league office who are more determined to prove that they were right rather than admit any culpability of their own or take any responsibility for the initiation of a process and ensuing investigation that was flawed.

I have come to the conclusion that this was never about doing what was fair and just. Back in May, I had to make a difficult decision that I now regret. I tried to do what I thought was right. I chose not to take legal action. I wanted to return the focus to football.

I have been negotiating agreements on a global basis my entire life. I know there are times when you have to give up important points of principle to achieve a greater good. I acted in good faith and was optimistic that by taking the actions I took the league would have what they wanted. I was willing to accept the harshest penalty in the history of the NFL for an alleged ball violation because I believed it would help exonerate Tom.

I have often said, ‘If you want to get a deal done, sometimes you have to get the lawyers out of the room.’ I had hoped that Tom Brady’s appeal to the league would provide Roger Goodell the necessary explanation to overturn his suspension. Now, the league has taken the matter to court, which is a tactic that only a lawyer would recommend.

Once again, I want to apologize to the fans of the New England Patriots and Tom Brady. I was wrong to put my faith in the league. Given the facts, evidence, and laws of science that underscore this entire situation, it is completely incomprehensible to me that the league continues to take steps to disparage one of its all-time great players, and a man for whom I have the utmost respect.

Personally, this is very sad and disappointing to me.

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Tom Brady: I’m very disappointed, I did nothing wrong

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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has issued a statement denying any wrongdoing in Deflategate, and decrying NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision to suspend him for the first four games of the season.

“I am very disappointed by the NFL’s decision to uphold the 4 game suspension against me,” Brady wrote on Facebook. “I did nothing wrong, and no one in the Patriots organization did either.

“Despite submitting to hours of testimony over the past 6 months, it is disappointing that the Commissioner upheld my suspension based upon a standard that it was ‘probable’ that I was ‘generally aware’ of misconduct. The fact is that neither I, nor any equipment person, did anything of which we have been accused. He dismissed my hours of testimony and it is disappointing that he found it unreliable.

“I also disagree with yesterdays narrative surrounding my cellphone. I replaced my broken Samsung phone with a new iPhone 6 AFTER my attorneys made it clear to the NFL that my actual phone device would not be subjected to investigation under ANY circumstances. As a member of a union, I was under no obligation to set a new precedent going forward, nor was I made aware at any time during Mr. Wells investigation, that failing to subject my cell phone to investigation would result in ANY discipline.

“Most importantly, I have never written, texted, emailed to anybody at anytime, anything related to football air pressure before this issue was raised at the AFC Championship game in January. To suggest that I destroyed a phone to avoid giving the NFL information it requested is completely wrong.

“To try and reconcile the record and fully cooperate with the investigation after I was disciplined in May, we turned over detailed pages of cell phone records and all of the emails that Mr. Wells requested. We even contacted the phone company to see if there was any possible way we could retrieve any/all of the actual text messages from my old phone. In short, we exhausted every possibility to give the NFL everything we could and offered to go thru the identity for every text and phone call during the relevant time. Regardless, the NFL knows that Mr. Wells already had ALL relevant communications with Patriots personnel that either Mr. Wells saw or that I was questioned about in my appeal hearing. There is no ‘smoking gun’ and this controversy is manufactured to distract from the fact they have zero evidence of wrongdoing.

“I authorized the NFLPA to make a settlement offer to the NFL so that we could avoid going to court and put this inconsequential issue behind us as we move forward into this season. The discipline was upheld without any counter offer. I respect the Commissioners authority, but he also has to respect the CBA and my rights as a private citizen. I will not allow my unfair discipline to become a precedent for other NFL players without a fight.

“Lastly, I am overwhelmed and humbled by the support of family, friends and our fans who have supported me since the false accusations were made after the AFC Championship game. I look forward to the opportunity to resume playing with my teammates and winning more games for the New England Patriots.”

Although Brady didn’t specifically say so, his next step will be to go to court to attempt to have his suspension overturned. This battle isn’t over, and Brady doesn’t sound ready to give up the fight.

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Eric Berry is cleared to practice on Wednesday

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And now it’s time for a little good news. Or a lot of great news.

The Chiefs have announced that safety Eric Berry has been cleared to return to practice on Wednesday, when the team launches training camp. The final decision came Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, coach Andy Reid and trainer Rick Burkholder will address the situation at a press conference.

Berry was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in December of 2014. He immediately started treatments, and he concluded the process in June.

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Brady offered to help NFL gather missing text messages

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If nothing else, the NFL can (when it wants to) master the art of public relations. Sure, the league screwed the pooch in the Ray Rice debacle last year, failing to realize that a video existed and that it would inevitably be leaked. But while the #DeflateGate episode has featured many very real flaws regarding the substance of the case, the league has done a great job of getting its messages out in a strong, clear way.

It started, of course, with the mistaken air pressure information from the initial letter to the Patriots, in which league executive Dave Gardi told the team that one of the footballs measured at 10.1 PSI — even though none of them were that low. It quickly continued with the leak of blatantly false information to ESPN that 11 of the 12 Patriots footballs were a full two pounds under the 12.5 PSI minimum. This cemented the notion that someone deflated the footballs, leaving only two questions: (1) who did it?; and (2) who knew about it?

Months later, it became clear that the information was incorrect. But the damage already had been done, with a curiosity instantly morphing into a multi-million-dollar investigation and the Patriots thrown against the ropes from the outset of the fight.

The P.R. mastery continued with the release of the Ted Wells report, which created the initial widespread impression that the Patriots cheated, and that quarterback Tom Brady knew about it. By the time those in the media inclined to digest the 243-page opus began to notice the warts, the narrative had been locked in by those who admittedly didn’t bother to roll up their sleeves and start reading.

The coup de grâce came Tuesday morning, when the league leaked to ESPN that “Brady destroyed his cell phone,” locking in the notion that something sinister — and irreparable — had occurred. The press release announcing the decision likewise focused on the destruction of the cell phone, raising eyebrows from sea to shining sea and reinforcing for many the idea that Brady had something to hide, and that he tried to hide it.

But like the much longer Wells report, closer inspection of the Goodell decision undermines the primary conclusion. And, as usual, the Achilles heel can be found in a footnote.

Specifically, it can be found at footnote 11 on page 12: “After the hearing and after the submission of post-hearing briefs, Mr. Brady’s certified agents offered to provide a spreadsheet that would identify all of the individuals with whom Mr. Brady had exchanged text messages during [the relevant time] period; the agents suggested that the League could contact those individuals and request production of any relevant text messages that they retained. Aside from the fact that, under Article 46, Section 2(f) of the CBA, such information could and should have been provided long before the hearing, the approach suggested in the agents’ letter — which would require tracking down numerous individuals and seeking consent from each to retrieve from their cellphones detailed information about their text message communications during the relevant period — is simply not practical.”

In English, here’s what the footnote means: Although the text messages couldn’t be retrieved directly from Brady’s phone, his agents provided all of the phone numbers with which Brady exchanged text messages. His agents also said that the league could attempt to get the actual text messages from the phones of the people with whom Brady communicated, but the league refused to attempt to try, claiming that it would be too hard to track down the various people and to persuade them to cooperate.

How hard would it be? Goodell’s ruling points out that “nearly 10,000 text messages” were exchanged on Brady’s phone in a four-month period, but Goodell’s ruling doesn’t provide the total volume of numbers that sent text messages to or received text messages from Brady’s “destroyed” phone. At an average of 2,500 text messages sent and received per month, which works out to an average of 83 sent and received per day (with some people surely sending and receiving a lot of short messages to and from Brady), how many people was he actually communicating with?

More importantly, how many of those people are Patriots employees, how many are family members, how many are friends, how many are people who would have no reason to be saying anything to or hearing anything from Brady about this specific case?

“I very much look forward to hearing from Mr. Brady and to considering any new information or evidence that he may bring to my attention,” Goodell said last month. And so Brady admits that he has a habit of dismantling his phone when he buys a new one, he provides the full list of phone numbers with which the dismantled phone communicated, and Goodell nevertheless refuses to try to identify the persons with whom Brady exchanged messages or to obtain the actual content of them, despite the commitment to “considering any new information or evidence.”

The league arguably opted not to track down the text messages or to match them up with text messages that the league already harvested from other phones, like the one used by John Jastremski, because the league already had the silver bullet it needed to win convincingly in the court of public opinion.

Tom Brady destroyed his cell phone. 

It was expertly leaked to ESPN by the same league office that had expertly leaked the 11-of-12 footballs falsehood to ESPN.

Tom Brady destroyed his cell phone.

It’s a theme that will be adhered to even though Brady made available the phone numbers necessary to reconstructing the contents of the messages.

Tom Brady destroyed his cell phone.

The details don’t matter once the message takes root. For #DeflateGate, a couple of giant oaks are growing at the NFL’s equivalent of Toomer’s Corner. The first one? 11 of 12 footballs were two pounds under the minimum PSI.

The second?

Tom Brady destroyed his cell phone.

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NFL offered Brady “at least 50 percent” reduction in exchange for admission of guilt

MakeADeal

Before Roger Goodell the Arbitrator upheld Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s four game suspension, Roger Goodell the Commissioner offered to make a deal with Brady.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL was willing to drop the suspension by “at least 50 percent” if Brady: (1) admitted to having knowledge of whatever John Jastremski and Jim McNally were doing to the footballs; (2) admitted to failing to cooperate with the Ted Wells investigation; and (3) apologized.

It’s believed that Brady’s suspension would have been dropped at least to two games, with the possibility of dropping it to one if he were sufficiently persuasive and profuse in his acceptance of guilt.

Although Goodell has ruled, settlement talks can continue because the litigation is just getting started. And if Brady were inclined to cry “uncle,” he could get the suspension reduced by two (or maybe three) games.

Unless the federal judge who ultimately handles the case tells Brady that he’ll definitely lose in court if he doesn’t take the deal, Brady likely won’t be settling. Even then, he may prefer not accepting responsibility and sitting out four games to confessing and cutting it in half.

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NFLPA calls Brady decision “outrageous”

outrageous

In response to the decision upholding his four-game suspension, Tom Brady has spoken. Through his agent.

Brady also has spoken, sort of, through his union.

“The Commissioner’s ruling today did nothing to address the legal deficiencies of due process,” the NFL Players Association said in a statement. “The NFL remains stuck with the following facts.”

The statement then lists the following facts, with bullet points: (1) the NFL “had no policy that applied to players”; (2) the NFL “provided no notice of any such policy or potential discipline to players”; (3) the NFL “resorted to a nebulous standard of ‘general awareness’ to predicate a legally unjustified punishment; (4) the NFL “had no procedures in place until two days ago to test air pressure in footballs”; and (5) the NFL “violated the plain meaning” of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

“The fact that the NFL would resort to basing a suspension on a smoke screen of irrelevant text messages instead of admitting that they have all of the phone records they asked for is a new low, even for them, but it does nothing to correct their errors,” the statement asserts. “The NFLPA will appeal this outrageous decision on behalf of Tom Brady.”

The points raised in the statement surely will be reflected in the forthcoming legal documents from the NFLPA, which surely will not focus on Brady’s admission that he destroyed his cell phone on the same day he was due to meet with Ted Wells but on the overall flaws in the process.

But here’s the thing. If those are the arguments the NFLPA had previously planned to make on Brady’s behalf, why did he even testify at the appeal hearing? The points raised above could have been established via stipulation or other evidence. Having Brady admit that he destroyed the phone interjected an issue that will hamper Brady in the court of public opinion — and that could prompt a judge to conclude at a visceral level that justice requires upholding the suspension.

Although the destruction of the phone may not be relevant to any of the issues raised in the litigation challenging the suspension, skilled judges can find a way to get to whichever conclusion they believe is justified, even if the motivation to arrive at that destination comes from facts technically irrelevant to the specific issues presented in a given case.

In other words, if the presiding judge (whoever it ends up being) believes Brady’s hands are dirty, the judge will likely be able to find a way to rule accordingly, even if the written decision never mentions the destruction of the cell phone.

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