Photo above: New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft enjoying the frenzy during Media Day before Super Bowl XLIX. He was instrumental in hiring Roger Goodell as the NFL Commissioner and obviously the coaches and players on his team. Bob Kraft and the other owners in the NFL control the league and hire the commissioners. They are, at the very least, just as responsible for the NFL’s image and integrity as the commissioner and players.
Am I the only person who finds it laughable the NFL, under the direction of Roger Goodell, have spent $5 million dollars and 103 days to determine Tom Brady was probably involved in what is now known as Deflate Gate? What’s even more comical is a 243-page report telling us what most of us could conclude just listening to Tom Brady’s explanation of his non involvement during a press conference prior to the Super Bowl.
His explanation didn’t cut it with his NFL bosses since the league has handed him a four game suspension and fined his team $1 million dollars and docked them a first round draft pick next year and a fourth round pick the following year.
Now we hear how Tom has tarnished the integrity of the game, the league, and his own reputation just because he prefers his footballs slightly under inflated from what the league allows. I am pretty sure Roger Goodell and the rest of the NFL do not have a clue about the term integrity and have no business trying to remind us how much damage Brady’s actions have done to the league.
I also think Roger Goodell and the league need a little reminding of the damage they have done to the NFL’s integrity. Perhaps this ought to have been considered before any punishment on Brady was handed out. But then, thinking things through is not one of the NFL’s stronger traits under the guidance of Goodell. Has he forgotten the following?
- Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injuries: Tom Brady prefers slightly under-inflated footballs and this is suppose to be a crime. Meanwhile, Roger Goodell and the league have covered up its knowledge of the long term problems caused by all the blows to the head players take during their careers. While Deflate Gate raged on, the NFL quietly agreed to pay out a one billion dollar settlement over the next 65 years to players who suffer brain related injuries caused by blows to the head. Why such a settlement if the league believes they are not responsible for the damage inflicted upon its players?
- Taxes: While Deflate Gate was being debated, the NFL finally agreed to begin paying taxes for the first time. That’s right, while Joe Fan is getting screwed by the IRS, the NFL has been exempt from paying taxes. Even Tom Brady paid taxes on his multimillion-dollar salary while the league paid zilch. And despite not having to pay taxes, the NFL was not able to come up with the money or a plan to ensure the security of 24 game balls at 16 stadiums each week. How is it a league that seems to make record profits every year is unable to prevent game balls from being tampered with? What else have they missed?
Criminals: The NFL has no problem hiring domestic abusers, rapists, drug dealers, smugglers, gang members, hit and run offenders, and even murderers. They call these people football players and in many cases they are paid millions of dollars a year. How does this criminal behavior stack up to Deflate Gate? Roger Goodell can spend millions of dollars investigating under-inflated footballs, but continually comes up short on vetting players and then has the temerity to talk about the game’s integrity. Give me a break. If there was an ounce of integrity in the NFL, half of its current players would be unemployed at best and behind bars in many cases.
- Super Bowl Tickets: Jerry Jones sells more tickets to the Super Bowl he hosted in Dallas than his new stadium could hold resulting in scores of people being turned away at the stadium and received no punishment from the league. What was the cost to these fans who were left without a game to watch after buying their tickets and making travel arrangements months in advance? Hey Roger, how much did you quietly settle with these fans for wrecking the integrity of the game? Isn’t this called fraud? I don’t know about you, but if I was one of those people who purchased a ticket and spent a week in Dallas only to be told I did not have a seat, I would be questioning the integrity of the league more than what Tom Brady has done to it. Then again, if you look at the police records of the players who are employed by Jerry Jones, integrity is not something he considers when doing business.
- Season Tickets: Integrity? Why does the NFL allow owners to charge season ticket holders a personal seat license (PSL) which amounts to a tax on top of a purchase that is already taxed? Correct me if I am wrong, but haven’t these customers already paid a sales tax for an item that includes seating? I don’t pay a PSL if I go to the movies. My dentist does not charge me a PSL to reserve a chair for me every six months so I can get my teeth cleaned. If I buy a bus pass, the city I live in, which is pretty much broke by the way, does not charge me a PSL. You see, movie theaters, dentists, and even local governments have something the NFL dearly is lacking – INTEGRITY! Now, on top of this, the NFL also requires season ticket holders to purchase at full price seats for preseason games that do not even count. I don’t know about you, but either this smacks of greed or there are a bunch of very wealthy owners and a commissioner who fail to grasp the concept of integrity.
- Drugs: Does Roger Goodell really think the NFL is cracking down on drug use? Who is he fooling? Every year, players get bigger, faster, and stronger and we are suppose to believe this has nothing to do with the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs). How is each team is able to employ players who weigh over 300 pounds and have less body fat than a marathon racer? Do we really think this is done with just a good diet and lots of training? Most of these players are too banged up during the season to do much working out and yet look at them perform. Come on Roger, you are not fooling anyone. And it goes beyond PEDs. Highly addictive painkillers are handed out like M&M’s on Halloween. Pot is used to relieve the symptoms of concussions and alcohol is consumed after games and practices like Gatorade is during them. If you do not believe me, check with former New Orleans Saint Scott Fulita who claims 30 to 50 percent of the players use pot and the coaches prefer they do rather than go out drinking. Now, how is letting out some air in footballs worse than any of this?
Hostages: The worst hostage crisis this nation has experienced was not done by Iran in the late 70’s, but is done every year by the NFL. That’s right. NFL owners are allowed to hold entire cities hostage by threatening to pack up and move their team to another city if they do not agree to help finance the construction of a new stadium. Isn’t it odd that with all our technological advances, we cannot build stadiums to last more than 20 years before they need replacing? Somewhere there are a bunch of dead Greeks and Romans laughing at us for allowing this to happen. Owners who are worth billions of dollars are allowed to cry poor and force tax payers to approve measures that will require tax payers to pay the cost of a new stadium even though most will never be able to afford the cost of attending one of their games. The NFL even manages to cry poor when it comes to the Super Bowl and now passes much of the costs onto host cities, which ensures massive profits for the league and massive losses for the host city. Hey, Roger, where is the integrity in all of this?
- Super Bowl: And speaking of this season ending game, the NFL no longer allows anyone to use the name, Super Bowl, in any of its advertising unless of course they pay the league a fee to do so. All those beer, big screen TV, and car commercials you see advertised on television or hear on the radio now have to use the code phrase, “Big Game” because the NFL believes they lose money when others say Super Bowl. Of course, they have no problem charging two or three million dollars for a 30 second spot during the “Big Game” but don’t even think of saying Super Bowl unless you want to hear from Sir Rogers attorneys. I am surprised they have not copyrighted the phrase “Big Game.” After all, it isn’t enough the NFL has more money than the average third world country, they need all they can get to help maintain the integrity of their profit margin.
- The NFL Experience:It’s no longer enough that fans attend a football game. Now they have to attend an experience. What’s the difference? When you experience and NFL game, you do not have to bring in your own food from home. Instead, you get to pass through tighter security than at any airport and have your belongings searched to make sure you are not smuggling things like a salami sandwich, can of soda, or bag of peanuts. To fully experience an NFL game requires you to fork over $20.00 to park in the stadium lot. Once you get through security, you get to enjoy $15.00 warm beers, $6.00 bags of peanuts, and $18.00 game programs. Don’t be surprised if the NFL starts charging you to use their bathrooms where they can collect user, flusher, and paper towel fees as part of your experience. Of course, none of this would be a big deal if you didn’t have to listen to foul mouthed drunks dressed as Darth Vader or hogs in dresses, but that’s all part of an experience. Even this might be tolerable if we were promised a happy ending, but try getting back to your car without seeing a few fights or stepping in someone’s vomit.
- Roger Goodell: How does it feel knowing the price for integrity is more than $40 million dollars a year? That’s right. Roger Goodell is the highest paid “player” in the NFL. Now this would not be a big deal if it was not for the fact he is about as believable as Richard Nixon when it comes to taking ownership of the nonsense that goes on under his watch.
While many did not believe Tom Brady when he claimed he had nothing to do with DeflateGate back in January, fewer believe Goodell did not know of an existing video showing Ray Rice punching his then fiancé in the face before dragging her out of an elevator. Mr. Integrity actually punished Rice with a mere two game suspension (that’s two less than what Brady is receiving) until not even he could handle the backlash from his attempted coverup and was forced to change it to a season long suspension.
Roger Goodell talks about preserving the integrity of the game, and yet, more than anyone else in the league’s history, he has done more to damage it than he can ever do to repair it. Roger Goodell more than likely knew of an existing video and went to great lengths to keep it from public knowledge, which in turn did lasting damage to the integrity of the NFL. Does this sound familiar? It should. It is the kind of language that is being used to nail a player who gained zero advantage from some slightly deflated footballs (Read Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback article from May 11th).
So there you have it, integrity the NFL way. Tom Brady is being made to pay a severe price all because the NFL’s investigative branch believes he “probably” was involved in deflating the footballs in some manner. Wow. This is indeed “probably” hard to imagine: an NFL player looking to get an edge on an opponent. Now, what will it cost to determine Roger Goodell is probably void of any integrity and is in no position to determine Tom’s fate?
(All photos by Claudia Gestro unless otherwise noted)
James Moore is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching and currently runs his own personal training business, In Home Jim, in Hemet, CA. Jim’s writings are often the end result of his thoughts mulled over while riding his bike for hours on end.