RUSH: I want to weigh in on this with one thing. I watched both the press conferences yesterday. I watched Belichick. And, like most of you, I watched Brady, which started at 4:15 p.m.
I will guarantee you this. I told you Belichick had not thrown Brady under the bus. I told you that’s not what happened. Essentially, here’s all you need to know. Cut through all of the clutter, cut to the chase, get right to the quick, all you need to know is the NFL has no idea what happened. The NFL has no idea who did what. The NFL has no idea who did what when, and that is why Brady and Belichick are both denying any culpability whatsoever. That can be the only explanation.
I would even add this: As I watch all this play out, I’m not so sure the NFL even wants to find out what happened here. But some day, we will. Some day we are going to find out, whether it’s part of an official investigation or not. One of the things — you know, you learn to look for things that nobody else notices. This is one of my areas of interest, is to look at what everyone is looking at and find and zone in on something everybody is passing by.
One of the things I keep hearing, no matter who is analyzing, no matter who is talking about this, it goes something like this. It could be a former player saying it. It could be a Drive-By Media person saying this. It could be anybody. They’re all saying, no way would an equipment manager do this on his own. No way would a ball boy tamper with the footballs on his own. There is no way an equipment manager would do this without the quarterback knowing.
Now, that tells me who the fall guy in this is eventually going to be. It’s either going to be an equipment manager who, in fact, did. We’re going to be told it is, in fact, going to be an equipment manager or a ball boy. They’re easier to throw overboard and sacrifice in the name of saving a game than a quarterback or a coach. Some equipment manager is going to fall on the sword or some ball boy is going to fall on the sword and shock everybody. It will be learned at some point. It may not be until next June. Who knows. It may not be until the eve of the draft.
I see everybody, “No way, couldn’t happen. No how. No way.” That’s a big tell to me. I could be wrong obviously. We’ll find out in due coarse. One thing I’m pretty confident of, folks, for Brady to go out and deny this as flat-out as he did with no doubts, leaving no door open, leaving no possibility to change his mind. This is a flat-out, “I didn’t do anything. I didn’t know anything. Zip, zero, nothing.” And Belichick the same way. That tells me that they know the NFL isn’t even close to knowing what happened. That tells me that they know that the NFL may never find out what happened, who did what, when, where, why, all of that. That’s the only reason they would go out and deny, deny, deny unequivocally.
RUSH: Let me obliterate and dispel what I think are some bits of conventional wisdom out there that have it all wrong. One of the bits of conventional wisdom is that Tom Brady has, for the first time in his career, thrown his reputation up for grabs. He’s managed his reputation ever since the Patriot’s first Super Bowl. He has mastered it greatly. He has managed his reputation, maybe planning a run for the Senate, some sort of politics. The conventional wisdom has it, that press conference yesterday with Brady in utter denial, has really put his great reputation at risk.
Let me dispel that. Not only has he not put his reputation at risk. It has been enhanced. Remember the culture we live in, folks. There is no shame anymore for being caught publicly doing something incorrect, wrong, violating rules, what have you, unless you’re a Republican. Outside of that, you can do anything you want. Your reputation will be enhanced.
I got an email today from a woman that I know. Sixty years old. You know what she said? “I don’t care what he’s accused of. He’s the cutest I’ve ever seen. That’s all that matters. I don’t care what he did. In fact, I hope he did it and gets away with it. Man, oh, man, is that one beautiful man,” said this lady. Brady will be bigger than ever. He’s going to have more curiosity about him than ever. No matter how this turns out, folks, his reputation is not at risk. This is not going to have any long-lasting damaging impact.
The second myth, and this one is everywhere, “Boy, the NFL, man, they must really not care. Why, they haven’t even talked to Brady yet.” Well, now, hang on. I have spies, ladies and gentlemen. I have learned that the NFL always intended to talk to Brady last. Talk to everybody else first. Talk to the assistant coaches. Talk to the equipment managers. Talk to the ball boys. Talk to the head coach. Whatever. And then after you have all that, you go to Brady. Because this is about Brady. The only person that is possibly affected by the balls being inflated or deflated is Brady. He is the focal point of all this.
If the NFL is serious about the investigation, they might be getting ready to do a Martha Stewart type thing. Testimony from everybody else. Then you talk to Brady and find out who is lying. Talking to Brady first, not the best way to do this. So the fact they haven’t talked to Brady yet doesn’t mean anything as far as I’m concerned. If you’re looking for indications that the NFL is not serious, they’re all over the place. But the fact they haven’t talked to Brady yet is not one of them.
I think the NFL probably has as much desire to get to the bottom of this as the Obama administration had to tell us what happened in Benghazi. I don’t think the NFL wants to get to the bottom of this, not now anyway. The NFL realizes what’s going on. Folks, the last thing in the world anyone wants to do is have this investigation solved before the Super Bowl. Don’t believe all this talk about this being a blight on the game, a blight on Goodell, another black eye for the NFL. My God, they’re going to have the highest ratings the Super Bowl has ever had. There is no way they’re going to have an investigation turn up anything that will require anyone playing in this game to be punished, now.
So it’s going to go on, it’s going to go on, and questions are going to continue to be asked. And questions will remained unanswered. And analysis will continue to be offered. And all the analysts will be trying to come up with an angle that no one has thought of or stated. Everyone will try to come up with a means of being perceived as the smartest guy in the room, and the beneficiary of all this: the National Football League and NBC sports, which will be televising this game one week from Sunday. So remember the culture we’re in. Remember who gets rewarded and for what and for how. There is no shame.
Let me give you a conflicting example here, however. I am willing to throw up a possibility I could be wrong about all this. Remember how quickly the NFL was prepared to act against the defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions, Ndamukong Suh. In the last week of the season, Ndamukong Suh happened to step on the ankle and the injured calf of the Packer’s quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, twice in the same game. And within two days, the NFL announced that Ndamukong Suh was to be suspended for one game. That game was a playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys. The Lions/Packers game was on Sunday.
On Monday, Ndamukong Suh was suspended. Ndamukong Suh and his staff appealed. The appeal officer for this hearing was Ted Cottrell, former coach in the National Football League. Ted Cottrell reduced the suspension and eliminated it and replaced it with a fine. Ndamukong Suh was permitted to play in that playoff game. The Lions all showed up at the appeal hearing, “Oh, my God, we don’t have a prayer if you suspend our guy. Oh, my, God, you can’t do it! It’s a playoff game. Oh, my God, if you suspend our player, he’s the focal point of our defense.”
The hearing officer, “You know what, you got a point. In the interest of fairness and competitive fair play, I’m gonna let Ndamukong Suh play and replace all this suspension with a $70,000-dollar fine.” The point is, the league acted in one day. Now, they had clear evidence too. They had Ndamukong Suh stepping all over Aaron Rodgers. It was on videotape, everybody had seen it. Ndamukong Suh said (paraphrasing), “I didn’t know I was stepping on the guy’s calf. I didn’t know. It was cold out there. My feet were frozen. My feet were numb. I couldn’t tell the difference between his calf and ankle and the ground.”
Everybody said, “Right. Right. But it sounds good enough to be plausible so we’ll consider it.” The point is they did all this in two days. They wanted to get to the bottom of this and they wanted this, the NFL did, adjudicated immediately. They had a playoff game. They didn’t want any hassle with the Lions being penalized, their best defensive player being suspended, oh, no. So they arranged for him to play. I’m just telling you, they’re not going to get to the bottom of this before the Super Bowl because it doesn’t serve anybody’s interests.
RUSH: What if the footballs were not deflated during the game? What if all that was done before the game? What if the investigation, they’re looking for who deflated the football, what if nobody did? What if the Patriots footballs were deflated before the game and given to the referees in an illegal state and passed? We don’t know how extensively the refs check those footballs. We don’t know any of this until we’ve heard about it all this week.
My point is that the NFL is out there doing an investigation. They haven’t talked to Brady yet, which I understand is by design. They talk to him last after they’ve talked to everybody else. But what if there was no deflating to be found? And, again, I want to say, all of these experts everywhere on TV are saying there’s not an equipment manager in the NFL that would do something like this without the quarterback knowing. There’s not a ball boy in the NFL who would do this. Fine. Okay. They’re letting it be known that there is no way an underling would do this.
So who do you think will be the fall guy once they do get to the bottom of this, if ever? I’m not convinced they want to, but if they do what’s the least damage some little ball boy, some assistant equipment manager did it, Brady would be shocked to find out. He would never do something like that. Why, I ask you to consult my press conference. I didn’t do anything. I don’t even care. I get those balls before the game. I touch them, I feel them, I massage them, I pinch them, I do everything, I finish and they’re perfect. I don’t want anybody touching them after that. And then it’s later learned that some ball boy, trying to suck up to Brady, took some action. “I told you I didn’t do it,” Brady says. And then the ball boy takes the fall.
Now, in that scenario, somebody did this. Here’s the bottom line, somebody deflated the footballs. Now, there’s obviously some omerta going on. Whoever did it, Brady and Belichick have to be very confident that whoever did it is not going to squeal. They’ve also got to be very confident that the NFL doesn’t know anything, otherwise there would be no reason for these two, Belichick and Brady, to go out and flatly deny this every witch way possible. The only reason to do that is if they know the NFL isn’t close and if they’re pretty confident that the NFL isn’t going to get close.
However, over here, somebody did it. Over here, somebody did it and that person knows who he is. And then over here, maybe somebody with a lot of money, a journalist, an analyst, somebody who wants to make a name for himself, who may start waving that wad of money around to whoever might have deflated the footballs. Say, the equipment manager, a ball boy. So an enterprising young journalist who wishes this was Watergate starts waving around a lot of money or a trip or whatever and says, “Tell me you did it and this is yours.” Brady and Belichick have to be very confident that whoever did this is never, ever going to divulge it.
The Drive-Bys in sports think they have their Watergate now. We played the sound bites. They think they’ve got their Watergate. I love this. So they’re not going to let this go. They want it to get bigger and more mysterious. They want there to be a Deep Throat and some parking garage where the balls were actually deflated on Friday night before the game and fake balls were given — they want all of that. And, meanwhile, Brady is up there saying, “I didn’t do it. I didn’t ever do it. I wouldn’t do it. I don’t think I’m a cheater, no.”
“Are you a cheater, Tom?”
“Well, I don’t think so.”
“You didn’t say no.”
“No, I don’t think I cheat.” He left it open. This is so — (laughing) The network newscasts last night spent 11 minutes combined on all of this.
RUSH: To the phones, Dena in Atlanta. Great to have you. Open Line Friday, welcome to the program.
CALLER: Thanks. Nice to talk to you, Rush.
RUSH: Thank you.
CALLER: You brought up in the first hour, the NFL Deflategate and it’s irritating me so much. One, it’s boring. Like, I’m done hearing about it. But the NFL organization is going to eat this up and ride this free media coverage for as long as they can because anyone that has one sort of business or advertising class says that bad publicity is good publicity. And like you said, it’s going to ramp up the Super Bowl ratings.
RUSH: Absolutely. There’s no way they’re gonna solve this.
CALLER: No. They’ll cram it down our throats. But this is what bothers me. I’m going to throw some politics into this. You know, once the investigation is done, they’re going to find the Patriots — like, I see it coming already. It’s like when an athlete has a dirty head, they’ll flash them with a 25K fine. Then that goes to the NFL organization. And that, to me, here is what the criminal part of all this is, the NFL organization is a non-profit. They’re not-for-profit. So they’re un-taxable. It’s ludicrous.
RUSH: Yes. They are organized as a nonprofit. People are shocked when they hear that. National football, I thought it was a 10 billion-dollar business. It is. It’s organized as a non-profit. Now, the money they collect from fines is donated to charity. But it’s such a small percentage. Not even a thimble full.
RUSH: Just a couple of more sound bites here on the Deflategate controversy here with the Drive-By Media and the New England Patriots. On CBS This Morning, the co-host Gayle King (who is BFF with The Oprah) spoke with the New York Times sports columnist, Bill Rhoden about all of this. Gayle King said, “A lot of people looked at the news conferences with both the coach and the quarterback saying, ‘Finally, we’re gonna get some answers,’ and they both said they don’t know nothing about nothing, Bill.”
They know nothing about nothing. That’s what she said. What she meant to say was, “They don’t know anything about nothing,” or “nothing about anything.” But what she said to Bill is, “They know nothing about nothing.” So, Bill, here you are at the New York Times. You’re dean of the sports columnists. Both the coach and the player are saying that they don’t know nothing from nothing. Where do you go from there, Bill?
BILL: “We don’t know.” There’s no accountability. So this comes from the very top, from the very top of the commissioner to the owners to the coach, this whole idea of deniability. “We don’t know how these things happened. Nobody knows. We’ll get to the bottom of it. We don’t know what happened!” Until something embarrassing comes out, they don’t want to know this stuff, just like they didn’t want to know Ray Rice. It’s incredible that you’re doing an investigation and you’re not talking to the main protagonist. (sic) The bad guys never really get punished.
RUSH: He could have been talking about Obama there, couldn’t he? He’s talking about Goodell. Bill Rhoden and many of the Sports Drive-Bys have it in for Goodell now. But he’s making a reference here to Brady when he says, “It’s incredible that you’re doing an investigation, and you’re not talking to the main protagonist.” That would be Brady. As Troy Aikman said, and anybody with a brain says: There’s only one player this affects, and that’s the quarterback.
In this case, that would be Brady, and the NFL has admitted they haven’t talked to him. Brady says, “They haven’t asked me anything yet.” Don’t read anything into that. That doesn’t mean that the NFL is trying to let this skate. There are other signs of that. But the fact that the NFL has not talked to Brady yet doesn’t mean anything. In fact, I have some spies out there. What I have been told, just to repeat this, is the investigation strategy here is to talk to everybody else and make Brady the last guy you talk to.
Do a Martha Stewart type of interview process, and try to catch somebody in a lie is what they’re trying to do. Nobody is going to admit this. Nobody has obviously admitted it. That’s why Brady and Belichick feel free to deny any knowledge or behavior or anything. They must know the NFL doesn’t have anything. So the league is going to talk to everybody involved, and they’ll go to Brady last, and then they will compare notes. That’s not to say that the people they’re talking to can’t also call Brady and say, “Here is what they asked me.”
I don’t know if the league is saying, “You do not talk to anybody about this. You do not do it.” Who knows how they’re handling it? I’m just going to repeat something here. Folks, I may contradict myself from the first hour. I was just thinking about this. The normal way of looking at this would be to try to plug it in to where we know pop culture is today, and where is that? Well, where we are in pop culture is, that the more you get away with, the bigger hero and star you are — unless you’re a Republican.
I’m not throwing that out there to be funny or snarky. It just happens to be the truth. There are two different sets of standards for everyone in public life: Republicans and everyone else. And you know as well as I do, that people who play on the edges, go outside of the boundaries, and appear to get away with it, are big stars. We know that there is no shame anymore that attaches or associates itself to what in years gone by would have been embarrassing or humiliating.
It’s just a different world now, particularly in the world of celebrity and stardom. But there may be something that contradicts that, and I didn’t remember to calculate this when I offered this theory in the first hour. The reason this may not play out that way, is to examine just how big pro football has become in our culture. How big it is is being demonstrated by the amount of attention this is getting from virtually every kind of media there is. It could well be…
You know, I asked yesterday: “Wouldn’t it be great if people got as upset over the Constitution being lied about, or leaders playing dumb and making things up, not admitting things when everyone knows they’ve done something wrong. Wouldn’t it be great if people held politicians as accountable as they want to hold sports people to here? And therein lies what could happen here. I’ve had to reexamine my own theory.
It could well be that sports has become so big and so important to people that maybe there will not be the usual tolerance for skirting the edges. Maybe if it is ever learned how this happened, maybe whoever did it will suffer, because people do take this seriously. Be that good or bad. Because this does matter to them. It’s the integrity of their game. You have a lot of people playing fantasy football. You have a lot of people betting this game.
You have a lot of people investing time and passion into this game. If they learn — if they figure out, if it is said convincingly to them — that there’s a lot of cheating going on or playing around the edges, then it could well be that they will get mad at this. Only time will tell. But it seems to me that the last thing that the NFL wants to do is to have to punish anybody before a week from Sunday. Right now, this is a wave, and you ride this thing all the way to Super Bowl Sunday.
So you extend the investigation, maybe drop some hints out that you have this or that, but you need to keep working to close the loop on a couple of things. You ratchet up the interest even more. The teams arrive Sunday and Monday. When the teams get to Glendale/Phoenix, the whole dynamic starts changing because you have media access scheduled and required in the Super Bowl all week long, every day. There’s no way to really run from it without being fined a lot of money and being excoriated by the league.
And any number of things.
So the league has an opportunity for this to be the highest rated Super Bowl ever. The question is: “Would they mind if this game is the highest rated Super Bowl ever because people are going to watch to see if somebody can get away with cheating here?” Now, I don’t think the league is crazy about that. But let’s face it: Everybody knows those footballs were deflated. Everybody knows somebody did it, and everybody knows the beneficiary is the quarterback.
So every day that goes by that there’s no resolution, the investigation doesn’t end. No punishment. Then the Patriots arrive (on the heels of Spygate) as a team potentially on the brink of getting away with cheating again, and the level of interest that will create… I imagine we’ll have some creative signs in the stands on Sunday. We’re going to have all kinds of nice signs with football pumps, and hoses, and all kinds of depictions of what the Patriots might end up having happened to them with a football pump.
It will be very creative out there.
Media day next Tuesday will be off the charts.
Does the league want that? Does the league want any kind of hype? Doesn’t matter. Do they want the hype that comes with, “My God, one of the teams in the game may have cheated!” Do they want high tune-in factor, comprised of people gawking, tuning in to see, “Will they try it again in this game? Will they try to cheat again?” Who knows? But the minute they solve this, the minute they announce the end of the investigation and hand out the punishment, then they have killed the buzz and PR and all of the hype.
So I don’t think they’re going to do that before the game. Even if they found out what happened, I don’t think there will be punishment before the game because they don’t want the game to be played with one team not at full strength, not with the roster that got them there. So I wouldn’t expect anything like that to happen. But I watch these media types thinking they’ve got their Watergate here. There’s blood in the water, folks. I am shocked by the number of people — players, ex-players, media people — who see Tom Brady’s blood in the water and want it. It’s interesting.
RUSH: Do you think the NFL would rather have people talking about who let the air out of the footballs or would they rather have people talking about who beat up their wife? They’d rather have people talking about who let the air out of the footballs. You know what the NFL ought to do? They ought to right now cancel the halftime show and schedule the next press conference on this for halftime of the Super Bowl.
Now, I know it will never happen, but I’m here to help. I’m here to help with creative ideas. Maybe you let the halftime show go on for people inside the stadium, but the televised halftime show will be the next press conference announcing the status of the investigation, halftime in the game between the Patriots and the Seahawks.
By the way, I guarantee you, the Seahawks are sitting out there in Seattle fuming that no one is talking about them. Richard Sherman and his gang are trying to figure out, “Okay, what are we going to do to get us back in this discussion?” That’s another thing going on. Mark my words. Don’t doubt me.
Here’s Bob in Waldorf, Maryland. Bob, glad you waited. Great to have you on Open Line Friday.
CALLER: Thank you for taking my call, Rush.
RUSH: You bet.
CALLER: I’ve been sitting here watching the sports media. It’s crazy, the hypocrisy and the double standard that these guys have put on this over two pounds of air in a football.
CALLER: If you remember correctly, a couple years back in the Masters, Tiger Woods signed an incorrect scorecard. He took an incorrect drop. He backed up to get a preferable yardage.
RUSH: Wait. Wait. Wait. Let’s not call it signing an incorrect scorecard, because nobody thought that. But you’re right. He had to take a drop and some people think that he did not go back on the proper line. You’re right, you’re exactly right about that.
CALLER: He backed up. He didn’t keep the line between him and the hazard. He backed up five yards.
CALLER: So what I understood, it was the signing of an incorrect scorecard. (crosstalk)
RUSH: Well, it was an incorrect scoreboard if you acknowledge that he did an illegal drop, but nobody wanted to go there.
CALLER: But as you can recall in history, Roberto De Vicenzo lost the Masters.
RUSH: That was back in a different — this is my point. Bob, that was a different era when honor was a matter of self-enforcement.
CALLER: But the media did not — I mean, they were talking about the integrity of the football. I’m a golfer. And like, you know, golf is honor, honesty. You penalize yourself. This game, the integrity of the game that day, because I haven’t forgotten to this day — they didn’t complain and carry on over that. You only heard about it on the Golf Channel that morning. The officials at Augusta, they didn’t want to disqualify him because of the media uproar, in my mind.
RUSH: Yeah, the ratings and everything else.
CALLER: I mean, you’re talking about blatant cheating, Rush. To drop a ball 5 yards behind your divot to get a preferable yardage. I mean, I’ve played a lot of golf. For you to drop that ball 5 yards behind that. He knows the rules of the game better than I do. It doesn’t get more bigger than that.
RUSH: Bob —
CALLER: You never heard one iota about that.
RUSH: Let me bring the audience in on this. My audience has a built-in dislike for golf because I like it. Some in the audience do. Tiger, correct me if I’m wrong here, Tiger chucked the shot in the water and what was it —
CALLER: Thirteen of them.
CALLER: Spun it back off the green.
RUSH: Right. Great shot. Backspin. Backed up off the green. Was it 13 or 15?
CALLER: I believe it was (unintelligible).
RUSH: Well, that’s 12.
CALLER: Maybe that’s 12. Pardon me.
RUSH: Anyway, it doesn’t matter what hole it was. The point is, where the ball backed into the water was not the line of his shot. It had spin on it. Now, you’re supposed to — when the ball backs off — when the ball ends up in the water, the line is where it first crosses the hazard. When did the ball go over the water. In this case, since the ball had hit the green, the line happens to be where it went in the water from the green. Correct?
CALLER: I believe so. From what I understand, from my understanding of the rules, if I was playing the shot, I would go anywhere from where I hit the ball to the hazard. Along that line, I can go and hit that shot. That’s not what Tiger did. This is where he violated the rules. He backed up, went behind his divot five yards to get a preferable full swing at a 65-degree wedge or whatever it was he wanted to hit so he could get more spin on it.
RUSH: Bob, it was number 15. I just looked it up here.
CALLER: Blatant violation of rules, Rush.
RUSH: Yeah. But I don’t think — you can go back as far as you want.
CALLER: I don’t think you can go past your divot.
RUSH: Yeah, you can.
CALLER: I don’t think so, but I could be wrong.
RUSH: You can go back as far as you want. The point is, you have to maintain the same line. That’s where I think people had a problem with what Tiger did. He changed his line. Meaning, the direction he was hitting the ball. My memory may be somewhat vague on it. But the bottom line is there was a legitimate cause to inspect whether or not there had been a rules violation here, and everybody swept it under the rug is your point. Right?
CALLER: Well, signing the incorrect scorecard, that’s disqualification right off the bat. He signed an incorrect scorecard. He did not assess himself, the penalty for moving off the line, whatever the mistake was. He did not assess that penalty. Now, if taking two pounds out of a football is cheating, what is that? I mean, if you’re talking about the honor and the integrity of a game, there is no more honorable game than golf. And integrity is what makes golf what it is. As you well know, you’re responsible for your own score. You’re responsible for calling balls and strikes on yourself.
RUSH: Right. You are. And if you don’t know, you have to consult a rules official if it’s a tournament to get an interpretation before you act on something. That’s all true. Golf is known for that. It’s the epitome of honor in sports because all these penalties are, for the most part, players calling them on themselves. This one, there were two strokes involved here that should have been assessed as a penalty that ended up not being. It was kind of filthy. It was foul.
RUSH: Well, looky here! The White House has finally reacted. The White House has finally reacted to the death of the Saudi king! Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud is the king’s name, and they finally responded to the collapse of the Yemeni government, I guess after Obama did the YouTube interviews. I don’t know what they said about it, but they have replied.
Now, one thing about Bob from Waldorf, Maryland. Bob, I know you’re still out there. The reason I was hesitant with you on this scorecard signing thing is because, it turns out I was right: It’s not an auto disqualification anymore. Tiger Woods was allowed to stay in that Master’s Tournament due to a rules change two years prior that states that a player, instead of being disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard, can be assessed penalty strokes if the violation that takes place is not clear at the time.
So it’s not an automatic disqualification if you sign an incorrect scorecard, if the reason it’s incorrect is because you committed a rules violation that nobody was sure was committed at the time it took place. So there’s a relaxing of that standard, and it was in there in the deep, dark crevices. I checked it out during the break. The National Football League has issued a statement on Deflategate.
As usual, ladies and gentlemen, they’re nowhere near announcing anything, which is exactly what my instincts were. There’s no way they’re going to have the end of this investigation before the Super Bowl starts. I’ll give you excerpts of the NFL’s statement: “Our office has been conducting an investigation as to whether the footballs used in last Sunday’s AFC Championship Game complied with the specifications that are set forth in the playing rules.
“The investigation began based on information that suggested that the game balls used by the New England Patriots were not properly inflated,” blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. “Prior to the game, the game officials inspect the footballs to be used by each team and confirm that this standard is satisfied, which was done before last Sunday’s game.” Now, that’s important, because that means the balls showed up with the officials two hours and 50 minutes before kickoff properly inflated.
That means that the deflating occurred after the officials relinquished control of the balls, a couple hours before the game. “The investigation is being led jointly by NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Pash and Ted Wells of the law firm of Paul Weiss. Mr. Wells and his firm bring additional expertise and a valuable independent perspective. The investigation began promptly on Sunday night.
“Over the past several days, nearly 40 interviews have been conducted, including of Patriots personnel, game officials, and third parties with relevant information and expertise. We have obtained and are continuing to obtain additional information, including video and other electronic information and physical evidence. We have retained Renaissance Associates, an investigatory firm with sophisticated forensic expertise to assist in reviewing electronic and video information.”
So as you can see, folks, this is not going to have a quick resolution. Now, the reason people thought it would was because the league itself said so. Back on Monday or Tuesday, the league spokesman said they’d wrap this up in two days. Well, that was never going to happen, and it clearly isn’t going to happen before the Super Bowl now. Not with all these players involved: Renaissance Associates, Jeff Pash, a law firm.
“The playing rules are intended to protect the fairness and integrity of our games. We take seriously claims that those rules have been violated and will fully investigate this matter without compromise or delay. The investigation is ongoing, will be thorough and objective, and is being pursued expeditiously. In the coming days, we expect to conduct numerous additional interviews, examine video and other forensic evidence, as well as relevant physical evidence.
“While the evidence thus far supports the conclusion that footballs that were under-inflated were used by the Patriots in the first half, the footballs were properly inflated for the second half and confirmed at the conclusion of the game to have remained properly inflated. The goals of the investigation will be to determine the explanation for why footballs used in the game [in the first half] were not in compliance with the playing rules and specifically whether any noncompliance was the result of deliberate action.
“We have not made any judgments on these points and will not do so until we have concluded our investigation and considered all of the relevant evidence.” So you see, ladies and gentlemen, “expeditiously” may mean expeditiously in the political world, which may mean months. But this is clearly going to be weeks. Here’s the final paragraph of the NFL’s statement:
“Upon being advised of the investigation, the Patriots promptly pledged their full cooperation and have made their personnel and other information available to us upon request. Our investigation will seek information from any and all relevant sources and we expect full cooperation from other clubs as well. As we develop more information and are in a position to reach conclusions, we will share them publicly.”
Meaning: “We’ll get back to you after the Super Bowl. Let the hype continue!” This business of, “[W]e expect full cooperation from other clubs as well”? Whoa! The doors that opens up are huge. What are you going to do, for example, if they find it wasn’t just the Patriots that did this? What if you find out that 20% of the teams do this? Or half the teams do this? Yeah.
So we’ll just have to wait and see. But I knew, folks, this wasn’t going to happen fast. They’re not going to destroy the Super Bowl. More importantly than that, they do have to get this right. Whatever they end up concluding, they better get it right. They cannot afford getting it wrong and having to fix it in a couple or three days like they had to do with Ray Rice. So they’re not going to hurry this.