RUSH: The National Football League has a problem, and it need not be where it is today. It is unbelievable to me that this was allowed, and it certainly looks like it was allowed to get to this point. And none of this need have happened. Now, all over the Drive-By Media you have one of the, I guess most respected, admired, envied players in the entire league, has undergone overnight a dramatic image shift. The Drive-By Media is salivating over destroying Tom Brady. He’s a cheater.
I know our culture loves to take people at the top down. I know we love taking people down a peg, and we love it when they take themselves down. It’s commonplace. But, man, there is so much joy, particularly in the Drive-By Media over the predicament that Brady is in. It’s not to say that he hasn’t played a role in putting himself in this predicament.
RUSH: But let’s go back to the National Football League here for just a second, because let me just tell you up top here rather than build up to this, the thing that amazes me the most about this. If you go back to the game in question, the AFC championship game, the Indianapolis Colts alleged that the Patriots were playing games with the footballs and were underinflating them to make it easier for the quarterback to throw them. At that point the NFL could have — and, if you read this report from Ted Wells, they had every opportunity to stop everything in progress and look into it at that moment. Even if it meant delaying the start of the game, they could have reexamined the footballs.
Remember, Walt Anderson, the referee for the game, said for the first time in 19 years the balls were not presented to him pregame. One of the equipment people on the Patriots is responsible for taking the balls to the locker room, took them there, deposited them for awhile, but the referee didn’t get to examine ’em. They left, went to the bathroom, in there for 100 seconds and obviously some air was taken out of some of them. And Anderson said (paraphrasing), “For the first time in my career as a ref, something happened here that shouldn’t happen.”
The point is, the National Football League allowed that game to be played, highly suspicious that the balls were improperly inflated. You realize, had they taken a different course of action, they could have delayed the game whatever it takes, maybe not at all, because they had plenty of advance warning via the allegation. They could have taken steps to go get those balls back from the field, examine every one of them, throw out the ones that were under- or improperly inflated, make sure that all the balls were correct and according to regulations, and start the game. Instead, they allowed the game to start apparently fully aware that some of the balls did not meet regulation.
Now, if the report is true — and it doesn’t use this terminology — the reason that would happen would be to be able to catch the team violating the rules in the act, which is what happened. Now we know that a number of balls were underinflated and we know that the equipment people in the Patriots locker room were making adjustments to them. And we are relatively certain, it’s probable, you know, using the lingo that Ted Wells uses here that Brady was aware of it, that Brady ordered it, that these guys thought it was to be done because this is the way Tom Brady wanted it done.
So now the NFL is where it is today. One of the most respected and best quarterbacks in the history of the game is now under a cloud of suspicion with his integrity damaged to the point that people may not ever be able to think of him the way they used to. They’re looking at some sort of punishment that has to be handed out. I don’t have any idea what, and I don’t think anybody else knows, but I’ll just tell you what I’ve read.
A reporter for the Miami Herald says it could be up to a full season. I saw Brian Kilmeade on Fox News say it’s gotta be four to six weeks, maybe a hundred thousand-dollar fine. Other info people are talking about two games, four games, a fine here, a fine there. But that’s not all. There’s Bill Belichick and Bill Belichick in this report is barely mentioned, other than to say he didn’t have any idea what was going on, therefore he’s been exonerated.
Well, if he’s not punished somehow, Sean Payton over there in New Orleans is gonna be really curious. Because you remember during the Bountygate investigation against the Saints, the head coach of the Saints, Sean Payton, was suspended for a full season precisely because he didn’t know what was going on in his locker room. He didn’t know his players were running a bounty program. And for that — not having control — he was suspended for a whole year.
The defensive coordinator was suspended indefinitely for running the bounty program. So if Belichick escapes any punishment, what’s Sean Payton gonna do? On the other hand of this, you have the Patriots opening the season on Thursday night in September against the Pittsburgh Steelers now looking at the possibility that a quarterback nobody has ever heard of is gonna be quarterbacking the team while Brady is serving a suspension.
And all of this appears to be to be unnecessary. And it leads me to wonder, somebody really must want to get the Patriots for something. They allowed an NFL game to be played with balls they knew didn’t meet regulation, just to catch somebody or a team or people involved in probable cheating. Now, you look at the suspension of Brady. Look at Ray Rice. Ray Rice was suspended for a season.
Domestic abuse, granted, but still. It was a full season. How many other players have been suspended for a game or two or four games because they took a poke of a doobie, tested positive for marijuana? They didn’t cheat the game, didn’t do anything to attack the integrity of the game. They might have done the things that didn’t reflect well on the field (i.e., the NFL logo), but this? Why, this goes to the integrity of the game.
And you’re gonna have a lot of players keeping a sharp eye on what, if any, punishment is handed down to Brady, and they’re gonna be comparing it to previous players and their punishments — and they will compare — and you’re gonna have the media. You’ve got the Drive-Bys now wanting Brady’s scalp. I mean, you can’t go through the Drive-Bys and find anybody here… I haven’t found anybody yet who does not want Brady severely reprimanded and punished for this.
Now, we’ve got the audio sound bites to back it up.
But I’m still struck, and maybe I don’t properly understand this. And if so, I’m sure some of you will correct me. But all of this seems like it needn’t have happened, and the fact that they let a game be played with what they knew to be underinflated footballs, and they could have found that out before the game — which they knew — and fixed it before the game? They need not be in this situation. And they don’t want to be here. They don’t want to have to suspend the number one player in the game. They don’t want this.
None of this is anything that anybody in that league is looking forward to dealing with.
This is unbelievable.
RUSH: Now, the thing that I have not closed the loop on that I’ve left for you to assume — and I apologize for this. This will be the fourth time I’ve said this today, so I apologize for the redundancy. But let me, to make sure I’m understood about this, remind you again that I sit here to this moment still stunned the NFL let this happen.
They let a game, a championship game be played knowing that the equipment had been tampered with. They knew the footballs or highly suspected the footballs had been tampered with, and they expected they’d been tampered with by somebody high up in the Patriots. The Colts had alleged this, and not just on that game day, but previously in the season, and other teams had also leveled similar allegations.
Things happened in the pregame such as the referee Walt Coleman saying for the first time in 19 years the game balls were not brought to him, which is required by the rules. The game balls, from both teams, have to be brought to him for inspection. And they have to be in the officials’ locker rooms 15 minutes before the game. He didn’t get ’em. Right there, they could have stopped everything and said, “Hey, what is going on?”
Because they knew already before that happened that allegations had been made that the Patriots were deflating the footballs, particularly on cold and bad weather days like this day could have been, to help Brady grip the ball and throw it more easily. Then they had video and they found out that the locker room guy, whose texts they have back and forth with the… They’ve got an equipment guy, and the Patriots game day officials locker room attendant, texting back and forth.
One of them is really ticked off at Brady. I mean, F-bomb here, F-bomb there about Tom. “F— Tom!” Because apparently Tom was complaining the balls were too big and weren’t deflated enough, and this guy says, “Okay, I’m gonna fix it, but I want a jersey, and I want some bling and I want some autographs,” and the other equipment guy said, “Okay, okay. Fine. Just do it. Do it for Tom.” So they’ve got all this in the aftermath of the investigation.
Before they had any of this, they knew that these balls had been tampered with and they let the game go, and that’s why people are calling it a sting. “The NFL ran a sting.” That’s what everybody was saying. Even back then, just shortly after this game, when this whole controversy surfaced, the NFL was accused of running a sting, meaning they let the game be played with equipment not up to regulation in order to entrap and catch the perps.
Had they not done that, we wouldn’t be here. Had they stopped everything… They wouldn’t have had to delay the game. “Wait a minute. We haven’t examined the footballs. We’re gonna make sure, before this game starts, that every football is up to snuff,” and if they found some that were underinflated, throw ’em out, get ’em replaced or inflate them to regulation. Play the game, and then do your investigation. But they played with those.
Now, that tells me… This is what I’ve left open and left for you to conclude on your own, and I’m just gonna say it. That’s why I said, “There’s Spygate out here, and out there you have a lot of people who believe that we still don’t know everything that went on with Spygate.” Remember, they destroyed the tapes, and there are people — particularly Jets fans — who think that it wasn’t just videotaping, that the Patriots were intercepting radio signals and listening to offensive play calls.
And I’ve heard people speculate that the Patriots were able to listen to the Seahawks’ play calls in the Super Bowl. I don’t know that that’s true, don’t misunderstand. I’m telling you what people are saying. So you got Spygate out here, which a lot of people still think hasn’t been firmly dealt with. Some people report that even the commissioner regrets to this day he didn’t suspend Belichick instead of just fining him. The point is that what if the reason they let this happen is because somebody somewhere thinks the Patriots are doing a whole lot more than this and just want to get to the bottom of it and expose it.
Somebody give me an alternative. Will you tell me why they would run a sting and let this game — I mean, this is the AFC championship game, and I don’t care that nobody gave the Colts a chance. It was a 45-7 blowout, and, by the way, the footballs were corrected at halftime, and Brady played better with the regulation footballs in the second half than he did with the underinflated balls in the first half, for what that’s worth, 45-7 blowout. Don’t say, “Well, they let it go ’cause the Colts didn’t have a prayer anyway.” But no, they don’t want to be in this situation today looking to have to suspend the marquee player of the game.
Do you really think September 10th or whenever it is that the season opens in New England and the Steelers are in town, Brady’s not on the field, do you want the story of that game to be this, three, four months from now, still this, which it will be? Nobody wants that. But the steps they took guarantee that that’s what’s gonna be the story for the rest of the season. This. And the whole hit on the league as a whole, not just Patriots and Brady, but the whole league now takes a hit terms of integrity.
So they can’t do a slap on the wrist here. There has to be some sort of really firm punishment on the one hand. On the other hand, over here you’ve got the business, you’ve got the TV networks, like NBC. NBC’s probably already on the phone to the NFL: “You better not suspend Brady for that opening game. I don’t care what you do after that, but he better be playing that opening game.” All of this pressure being brought to bear here. And despite that, somebody wanted this to happen. I’m not trying to sound conspiratorial. I’m just trying to make it all make sense. And you have to admit there’s nobody better than me to do that.