Near the end of the fourth quarter in Super Bowl XLIX, the New England Patriots took a risk.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman had beaten Seattle Seahawks cornerback Tharold Simon in the red zone on the previous drive, but quarterback Tom Brady’s pass was slightly overthrown, and the play was a failure. Down 24-21, the Patriots decided to run the same exact play, hoping the Seahawks wouldn’t catch on and Brady’s pass wouldn’t sail again.
The risk paid off. Edelman beat Simon again, Brady’s pass was perfect, the Patriots took a 28-24 lead, and the rest is history.
As much as it pains me to say this — I would love for this story to go away forever, by any means necessary — Brady needs to take another risk in the Deflategate saga and wait for U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman to decide his fate on Sept. 4.
Brady obviously would settle for a fine and accept the penalty for lack of cooperation in Ted Wells’ investigation. While it would set a dangerous precedent for future cases, the Patriots quarterback wouldn’t have to miss any games, and the story finally would be out of the news.
But unless NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suddenly comes to his senses and is willing to admit he wasted $3 million on The Wells Report, there’s a greater chance Jane Rosenberg gets hired to animate the next Disney feature than there is of the league agreeing to a fine.
So Brady’s best option is to wait out the process and force everyone to deal with this story for at least the next three weeks. Sure, Berman could side with Goodell and uphold Brady’s four-game suspension, but that’s looking unlikely after their day in court Wednesday.
Berman was tougher on the NFL than he was on Brady during the settlement conference, and he seems insistent on hashing out the facts of Deflategate, which only can mean trouble for the NFL. The league’s lawyer, Daniel Nash, essentially admitted in court the NFL doesn’t even have circumstantial evidence Brady had knowledge of football tampering in the AFC Championship Game. [tweet https://twitter.com/KevinRDuffy/status/631511134500163584 align=center]
That’s not good for the NFL.
Brady and the NFL Players Association might need to tutor Berman on the Ideal Gas Law, however, since he seemed to dismiss the notion deflation could have happened naturally.
If Berman only was judging this case on procedure, there’d be a higher chance the NFL could win the lawsuit. But if Berman really is going to dive deep into the Wells Report, then Brady, the Patriots and the NFLPA should be elated, especially since Nash called the investigation’s independence a “red herring” in court Wednesday. A red herring(!) is defined as “something, especially a clue, that is or is intended to be misleading or distracting.”
It wasn’t wise for Nash to throw around that idiom. From leaked PSI data to the destroyed cell phone, much of Wells’ and the NFL’s work has been a red herring. They just weren’t dumb enough to admit it until Wednesday.
Thumbnail photo via Andy Marlin/USA TODAY Sports Images