If the #DeflateGate controversy has placed a chip on the shoulder of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, the chip has just gotten a lot bigger.
On the first page of the first written brief submitted by the NFL to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the NFL states that Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Brady for four games “after finding that Brady had participated in a scheme to deflate game balls to be used in a conference championship game.”
“The scheme was aimed at gaining an unfair competitive advantage on the field,” the NFL contends, “and it was devised to avoid detection by game officials. It struck at the heart of the game’s integrity and the public’s confidence in the NFL’s on-field product.”
The rest of the 59-page brief, aimed at overturning the ruling of Judge Richard M. Bermanm echoes many of the arguments made and conclusions reached by the NFL through various levels and types of proceedings. The NFL still believes Brady cheated; if anything, the statements have become more brazen over time, with Brady’s alleged “general awareness” of a scheme to deflate footballs now evolving into a contention of actual participation in the scheme during the AFC title game, absent any clear evidence that Brady either knew about or actually become directly involved in any such scheme, at any time.
At page 10, the NFL’s brief declares that Jim McNally “snuck the balls into a bathroom, where he proceeded to deflate their pressure.” Apart from whether there was any actual “sneaking” (given the presence of, you know, a surveillance camera and McNally’s toting of a large bag of balls into the bathroom without trying to stuff it into his pants or jacket), the evidence remains inconclusive at best that McNally removed air from the balls. If he had, the combined effect of removing air plus the operation of the Ideal Gas Law would have resulted in PSI readings dramatically lower than the readings generated at halftime by a pair of wildly inconsistent air-pressure gauges.
That very point has been lost on the NFL from the moment this controversy first emerged, and it’s still lost on the NFL today. Which could be one of the main reasons why the NFL lost in court — and one of the main reasons why it could lose on appeal.