Tom Brady and Deflategate: A Never Ending Story….

…because it contains numerous elements that make it endlessly debatable.

I was mistaken in my previous post about this event being blown out of proportion.   Its proportion fits the degree the NFL has become blown out of proportion, i. e. they have been super successful at marketing football as the biggest, best game in town.   And this is a society increasingly made surreal through ongoing overdoses in gaming – TV contests that dwindle “survivors” down to one,  sporting events galore, and an explosion in on-line gaming and violent video games that allow players to become heroes in their own minds.

In today’s parlance, the NFL has  developed a wonderful brand name for its game which makes anything that detracts from its positive image akin to a sin.    Radical terrorists have the prophet and the Koran that are sacred, the NFL has its shield insignia.  “Protect the shield” is their slogan.

Anything that diminishes the glowing image is bad for the NFL and must be punished.  We’ve seen a lot of tarnishing over the past several months, what with the spate of domestic violence cases involving players, not to mention drug related incidents or other evidence of un-Boy Scout behavior.  Recent attention to brain injuries suffered by the players also tarnishes.

Lacking the clear rules and punishments of a legal system, the NFL’s version of a king or high priest, commissioner Roger Goodell has devised arbitrary punishments on a case by case basis, each of which is hard to defend vis-a-vis each other……  How many game suspensions for “more likely than not” being aware of football air pressure tampering as compared to, say, knocking your wife out in an elevator on camera?  (the punishment was less prior to the public viewing of the camera shot)

Smashing one’s spouse in the face is a crime in society compared to which deflating a football a little pales in significance, but in a gaming world whatever casts doubt upon the integrity of the game, that is a bigger concern.  (What if it was revealed that the cast of Survivor were allowed hot showers and cold drinks between takes?)

Conflate this all and Tom Brady gets a stiff punishment not so much for what he more likely than not was aware of, but because he is the poster boy of the sport, the uber Boy Scout.  Hence the ultimate sinner if caught for some wrongdoing.  That along with his boss Robert Kraft being kind of a buddy to Roger Goodell, while the team has been penalized for breaking the rules on a previous occasion, spy gate in 2007, has prompted the commissioner to ere on the side of harshness rather than hand slaps so as to bolster the image of NFL integrity.

Fine for the commish, who wants to restore the league’s tarnished image, but Patriot’s owner Kraft doesn’t want the achievements of his QB and the organization itself tarnished by that punishment, so this thing is going to go on and on, probably through the courts at some point.

And if it gets to the courts, the standard of “more likely than not” seems paltry enough for Brady to outright win.

No matter how it sorts out, my guess is that the Patriots will be especially tough to play next year as they will be in crusade mode to prove they deserve their past achievements despite the accusations.  Super Bowl winners don’t repeat often, but crusade mode could help the Patriot’s chances a lot.

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By the way……

In case I didn’t make it clear above, I think deflate gate became such an inflated topic because of a confluence of factors and events.   Lost in all of that is why it should be an issue at all.   Here are a couple of articles that help illuminate that aspect:

In this one, Andy Benoit makes the case there shouldn’t even be a ball inflation rule.  And this article features the opinions of former quarterbacks on the question of ball inflation, including Joe Theismann stating:  “I asked our equipment guy to pump one football up to 13 pounds per square inch and another to 11 psi,” Theismann told USA TODAY Sports. “I wanted to physically handle the footballs and see if I could tell a difference in them. And I couldn’t.”

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JANAY RICE: Perishing in a Media Fire Storm

You probably have heard that Janay Rice attacked the media for basically making her life a living hell in an Instagram post Tuesday.   She professed love for her husband and anger at being robbed of their livelihood in Ray’s being cut from the Raven’s football team and suspended from the league indefinitely.

Since Janay is the real victim in this case, TV commentators are careful not to be critical in their reactions to her statement.   Instead they hand the ball off to specialists in spousal abuse who basically say she is living in denial, as is commonly the case.  They say this gently, with understanding, sometimes talking of having been abused themselves while being in a state of denial.  However, in taking that position based on general information not the specifics of Janay and Ray’s life, I think they are abusing her further.

They are saying honey, I’m sorry but your opinion doesn’t count.   You have basically lost your sense of self and we are here to help restore it.   Then you’ll see things more clearly.  But after the media frenzy moves on to another outrage, Janay will be left with the stigma of a demonized husband who is out of work while those who claim to be sympathetic towards her will move on to the next media event that helps promote their cause or causes.

In saying this I am not defending Ray Rice.   He committed assault and should have been given a real penalty in a New Jersey court when tried last May rather than a slap on the wrist.   One could say if he had been stiffly punished then, Janay would have suffered as well.   But her marriage and life would not have been reduced by television to blood in the water for all who have a cause to promote or an image to protect.  I don’t like the collective self-righteousness and self-serving reactions of his football team and the NFL and every women’s group that wants to turn Janay’s being abused into a cause celebre whether she wants it or not.

I can imagine having egg on my face at some point.  Maybe some months or years down the line  Janay will  announce that she is separating from Ray, that  she had been continuously, secretly abused while deluded by love and guilt just as the common story line goes.    But here is my point for now.   I have tried but not found any stories about previous domestic abuse between Ray and Janay.   Of course, it is possible it has been kept hidden, and stories might come out, but why haven’t any come out yet?  Certainly there is no lack of news people looking for that scoop.

Is it not also possible that this was a unique moment of vicious eruption for reasons we cannot fathom.   Maybe it is the rare exception to a general rule, but aren’t we being a little too quick to judge the soul of this man?

What if all of these people who act like they know more about Janay’s situation than she does really don’t?  For now, I am simply saying with respect for Janay we give them more space, stop playing that elevator video over and over again leaving the impression that Ray is an irredeemable brute who should have no chance to taint the ranks of the pristine NFL ever again.

The morning I heard that the Ravens organization apologized for their handling of the Rice situation and the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has as well and well they should.   However, having been too lax in confronting the situation before they now are trying to appease their critics by giving him a stiffer punishment than the policy they revised after the outcry that they did too little to punish Ray, a mere two game suspension.

With that change, the present policy is a six game suspension for the first incidence of domestic violence and then suspension for at least a year if there is a second, with no promise of reinstatement.    Rice was cut by his team and is facing an indefinite suspension.   How does that fit the guideline, other than the league is willing to abridge its own rule to show they are truly sorry enough.

Having been too soft on Ray Rice initially the league is being  arbitrarily harsh now prompted by the visceral nature of that video.   The NFL’s way of whitewashing its image sullied by its earlier missteps.

The NFL wants to clean up its image and women’s groups want to parlay this moment of viciousness into a deeper awareness of domestic violence while promoting means to prevent and punish it.  But as they pursue their own aims, whatever value they may have, Janay Rice keeps losing at every call.