The NFL has spoken. Even if plenty of teams won’t be buying it.
After repeated requests for comment from PFT regarding last week’s news that Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady wandered into the wrong house while trying to meet with offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, the league has issued a statement regarding the question of whether the meeting violated offseason rules: “We made an inquiry and determined there was no violation. It was a brief personal visit and Tom picked up the playbook.”
The inquiry may have been limited to simply asking Brady what he was doing and accepting his response at face value, something the league definitely wasn’t inclined to do five years ago when pursuing the scorched-earth — and scientifically flawed — #DeflateGate investigation. The inquiry may not have included meaningful follow-up questions, like this one: “Why did you need to go pick up the playbook when the playbook is on an iPad and they could have just sent it to your house?”
Or this one: “Why did you have duffel bags and what was in them?”
There’s been a palpable sense in league circles that the Buccaneers are playing fast and loose with the rules when it comes to both the courtship of Tom Brady and the effort to get him up to speed for the 2020 season. And it’s safe to say that people with other teams who complained about Brady meeting with Leftwich will not be placated by the league’s statement, especially since some believe that any meeting with a coach before the offseason program starts, especially away from the team’s facility, violates the rules.
Then there’s the fact that the league glossed over the fact that Brady’s trip to Leftwich’s house violated the relevant stay-at-home order in Florida. Given that the league (along with ESPN, the NFLPA, and everyone in the media) similarly glossed over the fact that multiple agents violated stay-at-home orders to travel to the homes of draft picks in order to get a few free seconds of TV time on Thursday and Friday night, that really isn’t a surprise.