Those paid to exonerate Patriots quarterback Tom Brady were wowed by his performance at Tuesday’s appeal hearing, #asexpected. Those who suspended him in the first place weren’t. #Asexpected.
Per a league source, Brady simply reiterated his denial regarding any involvement in or knowledge of whatever it was that John Jastremski and Jim McNally may have been doing with the team’s footballs. When pressed on certain facts relating to Brady’s potential knowledge or involvement, the answers were regarded by some in the room (i.e., some who aren’t paid to exonerate Brady) as not entirely credible.
Apparently, Brady’s case hinged heavily on attacking the science, under the broader umbrella of taking the position that: (1) he didn’t do anything wrong; and (2) Ted Wells can’t prove that Brady did. The question then becomes whether the NFL is willing to throw out the entire Wells report based on the flaws in the science (and the science is definitely flawed), or whether the NFL continues to be troubled by the Jastremski-McNally exchanges and Brady’s answers to questions about his interactions with either or both of them.
Most importantly, it’s unlikely that the Commissioner will fully exonerate Brady because the Commissioner nearly lost his job last year by not going far enough in disciplining a player. When the Commissioner goes too far, eventually having his decisions overturned by some independent party, he suffers little or no P.R. fallout.
That dynamic alone should tell us all which way the wind is howling on this one. And it provides further proof for the notion that last year’s Ray Rice debacle has left the Commissioner hopelessly conflicted in every single one of these cases.
With one path jeopardizing his job and the other path not triggering even a peep of substantial criticism, the smart play for Goodell will always be to uphold a suspension and let the player and his union fight for further reduction or outright elimination of it in court. And that’s the kind of inherent conflict that arguably makes Goodell unfit to be the final decision-maker in any of these cases.