Here is an early link to my Friday column about Tom Brady, Roger Goodell and Deflategate. The full text runs below:

I’m glad Tom Brady beat Roger Goodell in court.

Other things I’m glad about. That Brady had the guts to challenge the commissioner. That this farce called Deflategate probably is over. That Brady will play in Game 1. That Goodell’s arbitrary, heavy handed justice got tackled for a big loss.

This commissioner really needs to look for another job.

According to what I’ve read, Goodell never actually proved Brady knew the footballs he used were deflated. Goodell certainly never proved Brady participated in the plot to deflate balls. This didn’t stop Goodell from suspending Brady four games, a quarter of the season. In baseball terms, that would be 40 games.

Talk about an abuse of power.

When Brady appealed the suspension, Goodell heard the appeal. Does this make sense? It’s like you got sent to the principal’s office for allegedly stealing Tommy’s lunch and the principal suspended you from school four days and you and your mom went back to the principal and said you were appealing his decision, and he said he was in charge of the appeal and upheld the suspension all over again, and then he took out a nail file and cleaned his nails.

Goodell had so loused up the Ray Rice investigation he was trying to be tough with Brady. Refurbish his image. That’s what I believe. Of course, Brady never slugged his wife in an elevator, knocked her out and dragged her by her feet, and got caught on camera. The misdeeds of Rice and Brady — I’m not saying Brady did a misdeed — are quite different.

Goodell treated Brady like he knocked out his wife or got caught taking performance-enhancing drugs. The commissioner overreacted and showed no understanding he’d overreacted.

Question: Is Roger Goodell a bright man, as in intelligent?

Even if Brady had a hand in deflating the balls, it wasn’t a capital offense. I always equated making the football fit your hand to throwing a spitter in baseball, or maybe putting grease on the baseball. Stuff like that. Throwing a spitter is not reprehensible. That’s what I believe. A known spitball-thrower like Gaylord Perry is a folk hero — a Robin Hood of the big leagues. People admire him but they don’t admire a drug cheat like Alex Rodriguez.

Quiz item: What is the suspension for throwing a spitter?

Ten games, that’s what.

Which amounts to 1/16th of the season. In football terms, that’s only one game. If Goodell suspended Brady for one game, maybe Goodell would not have lost a court case and been publicly humiliated. But Goodell lost all sense of proportion, decided he was Napoleon or some other absolute ruler, and meted out hard, unfair justice.

Question: Is Roger Goodell a bright man, as in intelligent?

I’ll tell you something else. If Brady cheated or if the Patriots ball boys cheated without Brady’s knowledge — if some cheating took place — the league got what it deserved.

Here’s the background. In 2006, the NFL initiated the practice of letting teams bring their own footballs to games. Brady and Peyton Manning asked for this, and the league agreed. Before that, the home team provided the balls. Brady and Manning wanted to use balls that suited them, and the league said OK.

So, there was a gray area built into the system — quarterbacks already could choose their footballs. Goodell argued that Brady had overreached himself by deflating balls he — Brady — already had selected. The league allowed him to select.


I’ll say this. If there was cheating, the league asked for it. Begged for it. Set up the conditions for it. Made cheating easy.

Question: Is Roger Goodell a bright man, as in intelligent?

It would have been preferable — one might even say sane — for the league to be in charge of the balls, for the league to provide the balls, for the league to monitor the pressure of the balls. For the league to do its job. When this whole Deflategate thing happened, I was shocked. I’d always assumed the league was in charge of the balls. It never occurred to me each team had its own footballs. I bet you thought the same way.

And one other thing. If I were an NFL quarterback I would be sorely tempted to tamper with the balls, to mold them to my hand, to deflate or inflate according to my taste. I’d be nuts not to at least think about it. In football, you take every advantage you can get. Would I feel guilty if I deflated a ball? I don’t think I’d feel guilty — but I can’t be sure. I’m not a quarterback. I might think the league had complicity in my cheating. Although “cheating” is way too strong a word for deflating my own football. Let’s say I’d think the league had complicity in my “fiddling” or “adjusting” or “tweaking footballs.”

This whole furor has been silly and overheated. It has shown the commissioner as a phony moralist, a man with a personal agenda. And, finally, it has shown the commissioner as a loser. A very bad look. The NFL really does need a new commissioner because, among other things, Roger Goodell is not a bright man, as in intelligent.

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