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I’ve been critical of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for his handling of disciplining Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice and Greg Hardy. His disciplinary actions violated the NFL-NFLPA rules of the shop in terms of how long Commissioner Goodell could suspend players for. For instance, when Adrian struck his son with a wooden switch, the maximum suspension for such an offense was 2 games. Ditto with Ray Rice.

After the public outcry over the Rice suspension reached deafening levels after a video was found from inside the casino hotel showing Ray Rice hitting his then-fiancé, Commissioner Goodell instituted a new set of rules. In both the Rice and Peterson cases, federal judges ruled that the violations happened before the new rules went into effect. In those instances, the judges ruled that Commissioner Goodell hadn’t applied the existing “rules of the shop” in disciplining Rice and Peterson.

I fully support Commissioner Goodell’s ruling against Tom Brady for a multiple reasons, which I’ll get into shortly. First, though, it’s important to highlight what went into the NFL’s decision:

On or shortly before March 6, the day that Tom Brady met with independent investigator Ted Wells and his colleagues, Brady directed that the cell phone he had used for the prior four months be destroyed. He did so even though he was aware that the investigators had requested access to text messages and other electronic information that had been stored on that phone. ?During the four months that the cell phone was in use, Brady had exchanged nearly 10,000 text messages, none of which can now be retrieved from that device. The destruction of the cell phone was not disclosed until June 18, almost four months after the investigators had first sought electronic information from Brady.

Because the appeal that the NFLPA will file in federal court within the next 2 weeks will be about the process that the NFL used, they won’t be re-litigating Troy Vincent’s or Roger Goodell’s findings of facts. That’s why it’s certain that the federal appellate courts will uphold Brady’s suspension. That’s also why the judiciary won’t grant an injunction that would put Brady’s suspension on hold until the appeal can be heard.

Injunctions and TROs aren’t granted unless the court thinks that the plaintiff has a chance of winning on the merits of the case. That gets into the procedural part of this suspension.

Most importantly, the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA stipulates that the NFL commissioner has the right to hear the appeals for violations of league rules regarding the games itself. There’s a different procedure in place for what the NFL and NFLPA call personal conduct policies. Peterson’s and Rice’s violations violated the NFL’s personal conduct policies. Tom Brady’s violation had to do with the game itself.

Since the collective bargaining agreement gives Commissioner Goodell the right to hear Brady’s appeal, it’s difficult to see how a court could rule against the NFL in this case. Further, the fact that the NFL highlighted the fact that Brady destroyed his cell phone knowing that the NFL investigator wanted to look at the text messages between Brady and the Patriots’ locker room guys is a major red flag. There isn’t an honest investigator alive who wouldn’t think of this as a major infraction.

That’s like telling the IRS agent that you get rid of your tax returns every 2 years right before they audit you. Of course, that isn’t going to fly.

I don’t know when the NFLPA’s lawsuit will be heard or in which court it’ll be filed. What’s certain, though, is that it’ll end with Tom Brady serving a 4-game suspension.

There’s a flood of positivity flowing through Winter Park this morning. That’s because Adrian Peterson is back at Winter Park:

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Adrian Peterson is coming back to the Minnesota Vikings, telling The Associated Press that he will participate in the team’s voluntary practice on Tuesday and still has love for his team after nine months away.

Peterson sent an e-mail to the AP early Tuesday morning saying he’s excited to put on a uniform again after missing the final 15 games of last season while addressing child abuse charges in Texas. He also skipped the team’s voluntary practices last week while openly lamenting the fact that the final three years of his contract are not guaranteed.

“I’ve been away from the game for an entire season,” Peterson wrote to the AP. “I wanted the chance to be around the players and coaches, the guys that really matter to me.”

Teddy Bridgewater just improved as a quarterback. Mike Zimmer became a smarter head coach. Norv Turner is wearing an ear-to-ear smile and Mike Wallace dreams of all the single coverage he’ll see this season. There’s a difference between quality starters and Pro Bowl players. Then there’s the difference between Pro Bowl players and true superstars. Adrian fits in at the top of the ‘true superstar’ category. There isn’t a defensive coordinator who isn’t revising his game plan if he’s facing the Vikings this season.

Last year, Teddy Bridgewater had an impressive rookie season. Still, there’s no denying he’s still got lots to learn. His learning curve isn’t as inclined as it was a month ago thanks to Adrian. Play action passes against defenses with 9 men in the box are more like pitch and catch routines. Last year, defenses didn’t take the Vikings running game seriously. They didn’t take Teddy’s play action fakes seriously, either. That changed this morning.

One of the sneaky smart things that the Vikings did this winter was trade for speedster Mike Wallace. When he was asked if Mike Wallace was good at double moves, Norv Turner said that Wallace was fast enough that he didn’t need a double move. There was a smile on Turner’s face at that point. I’m thinking about the cat-that-ate-the-canary type smile.

This morning’s news officially makes the Vikings a potential playoff team.

As owner of the Patriots, Robert Kraft is responsible for setting the direction of the team. He hired the GM and the head coach. He established what was acceptable conduct within the organization and what wasn’t acceptable. Apparently, the list of things that aren’t acceptable is a short list whereas the list of things that Mr. Kraft will turn a blind eye towards is lengthy and growing.

After the Patriots got caught cheating during this year’s AFC Championship Game, Kraft didn’t offer an apology. Rather, he threw this hissy fit:

Early in the video, Kraft said this odd thing:

KRAFT: I want to make it clear that I believe unconditionally that the New England Patriots have done nothing inappropriate in this process or in violation of NFL rules.

That’s odd because belief that you’re innocent isn’t a legal standard. It certainly isn’t proof of anything. The proof contained in the Wells Report points to just one conclusion: that Tom Brady, with the help of Jim McNally, cheated by deflating the Patriots’ game day footballs.

Further, Robert Kraft didn’t cooperate when required to. When the NFL’s investigators wanted to do a second interview with Jim McNally, Kraft’s Patriots said no. Unilaterally, they shut down that part of the investigation. Despite shutting that part of the investigation down, Kraft insists that they fully cooperated.

That’s led to this absurd premise: that the organization that’s getting investigated gets to a) determine when the investigation is complete and b) tell investigators how far they can go. Imagine if those principles were transferred to our criminal justice system. If the person getting investigated got to determine the length of the investigation, our prisons would be empty.

After the release of the Wells Report, Kraft criticized the report in this statement. This part especially stands out:

Based on the explanations I have heard and the studies that have been done, I don’t know how the science of atmospheric conditions can be refuted or how conclusions to the contrary can be drawn without some definitive evidence.

The person who helped the NFL’s investigators is more than qualified:

As part of the investigation, scientific consultants were engaged to assist the investigative team. These consultants included Exponent, one of the leading scientific and engineering consulting firms in the country, and Dr. Daniel R. Marlow, the Evans Crawford 1911 Professor of Physics at Princeton University and former Chairman of the Princeton University Physics Department, who served as a special scientific consultant, coordinated with Exponent on its testing and analytical work, and advised the investigative team.

If Kraft wants to criticize that part of the investigation, he’s got a tough fight ahead because the chairman of the University of Princeton’s Physics Department will likely be a compelling witness.

Kraft’s organization dug itself a hole by cheating. Tragically, Kraft added to his organization’s troubles by not cooperating with the investigation. Additionally, Kraft criticized the Report without proof that would exonerate his star quarterback.

That’s why the Patriots should forfeit next year’s first round draft pick and pay a $1,000,000 fine. They compromised the integrity of the game. That’s inexcusable.

If the NFL wants to maintain its integrity, Tom Brady’s suspension needs to be more than a token slap on the wrist. My opinion is based on what’s found on pg. 19 of the Wells Committee Report. This information jumped off the page:

During his interview, Brady denied any knowledge of or involvement in any efforts to deflate game balls after the pre-game inspection by the game officials. He claimed that prior to the events surrounding the AFC Championship Game, he did not know McNally’s name or anything about McNally’s game-day responsibilities, including whether McNally had any role relating to game balls or the game officials. We found these claims not plausible and contradicted by other evidence. In fact, during his interview, Jastremski acknowledged that Brady knew McNally and McNally’s role as Officials Locker Room attendant.

Unfortunately for Mr. Brady, that isn’t the only damning information on pg. 19. Here’s more:

Brady personally was involved in the 2006 rule change that allowed visiting teams to prepare game balls in accordance with the preferences of their quarterbacks. During the process of advocating that rule change, it is reasonable to infer that Brady was likely to be (or become) familiar with the NFL rules regarding game balls, including the 12.5 psi minimum inflation level, although Brady denies having been aware of Rule 2 or the minimum inflation level until 2014 (despite approximately fourteen years as an NFL quarterback).

It’s tragic when something like this happens. It’s impossible for Brady to deny that he knows about Rule 2. During several videos, Brady emphatically states that he a) prefers his footballs inflated to 12.5 psi and b) doesn’t want those game day balls inflated or deflated once he’s picked out the game day footballs because, at that point, Brady considers them “perfect.”

In this video, Trey Wingo nails Brady in his deceit:

Here’s what Wingo said right at the end of the video:

Well, that’s an interesting point. He said “I like that ball right at 12.5. How do you know you like it at 12.5 if you can’t feel the difference? He also said he can’t feel the difference. This is not a Supreme Court case. Let’s be clear about this. We’re just trying to get to the bottom of the story. That’s all we’re trying to do. But you can’t say, on one hand, that you like it at 12.5 and then say that you can’t tell the difference.

That Brady insisted that he wanted the footballs inflated to a certain pressure level during his press conference, then told a different audience that he couldn’t tell the difference between balls indicates a disgusting level of deceit on Mr. Brady’s part. He’s counting on the average fan to not know the things that go into getting a player’s equipment just perfect before the games.

Mark Brunell was serious when he talked about the protocol he used in picking out the game balls. His voice intensified when he said “That football is our livelihood.” There’s nothing casual to an athlete about getting his equipment just perfect.

Because Brady was deceitful, especially during questioning by investigators, he must be suspended for either 4 games or 6 games. The suspension can’t be reduced for good behavior, either. What Brady did hurt the integrity of the game.

Check back later today to find out what I’m recommending for discipline for Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick. You don’t want to miss it.

Ted Wells’ report on DeflateGate is a stinging report in that it questions Tom Brady’s integrity. This is important basic information:

Exponent concluded that, within the range of likely game conditions and circumstances studied, they could identify no set of credible environmental or physical factors that completely accounts for the Patriots halftime measurements or for the additional loss in air pressure exhibited by the Patriots game balls, as compared to the loss in air pressure exhibited by the Colts game balls. Dr. Marlow agreed with this and all of Exponent’s conclusions. This absence of a credible scientific explanation for the Patriots halftime measurements tends to support a finding that human intervention may account for the additional loss of pressure exhibited by the Patriots balls.

Here’s additional timeline information:

When Anderson and other members of the officiating crew were preparing to leave the Officials Locker Room to head to the field for the start of the game, the game balls could not be located. It was the first time in Anderson’s nineteen years as an NFL official that he could not locate the game balls at the start of a game. Unknown to Anderson, and without Anderson’s permission or the permission of any other member of the officiating crew, McNally had taken the balls from the Officials Locker Room towards the playing field. According to Anderson and other members of the officiating crew for the AFC Championship Game, the removal of the game balls from the Officials Locker Room by McNally without the permission of the referee or another game official was a breach of standard operating pre-game procedure.

There’s more:

Based on videotape evidence and witness interviews, it has been determined that McNally removed the game balls from the Officials Locker Room at approximately 6:30 p.m. After leaving the Officials Locker Room carrying two large bags of game balls (Patriots balls and Colts balls), McNally turned left and then turned left again to walk down a corridor referred to by Patriots personnel as the “center tunnel” heading to the playing field. At the end of the center tunnel on the left-hand side, approximately three feet from the doors that lead to the playing field, is a bathroom. McNally entered that bathroom with the game balls, locked the door, and remained in the bathroom with the game balls for approximately one minute and forty seconds. He then left the bathroom and took the bags of game balls to the field.

In other words, there’s indisputable video proof that Jim McNally, who is described in the report as having been “employed by the Patriots as a seasonal or part-time employee for the past 32 years. His work for the Patriots during the 2014-15 NFL season took place only on a part-time/hourly basis on days on which the Patriots had home games”, took the footballs from the Officials Locker Room without the officials’ permission.

This video can’t be excluded from the investigation:

Here’s why that video is so damning:

Jastremski’s text message thus attributes to Brady knowledge of McNally’s efforts to get the footballs “done” and the stress involved. We reject as implausible the reading offered by Jastremski, McNally and counsel for the Patriots that certain portions of this exchange refer to a person other than Brady. Moreover, taking the text messages as a whole, Brady is a constant reference point in the discussions between McNally and Jastremski about inflation, deflation, needles and items to be received by McNally. In response to Jastremski’s offers of sneakers and clothing, for example, McNally identifies Brady as the catalyst for those offers (“Tom must really be working your balls hard this week”; “Tom must really be on you”). And unhappiness with Brady is referenced by McNally as a reason for using the “needle” to inflate rather than deflate footballs (“Fuck tom….make sure the pump is attached to the needle…..fuckin watermelons coming”).

Brady is thus central to the discussions of inflation and deflation in the text messages.

Additional evidence of Brady’s awareness includes a material increase in the frequency of telephone and text communications between Brady and Jastremski shortly after suspicions of ball tampering became public on January 19. After not communicating by telephone or text message for more than six months (based on data retrieved from Jastremski’s cell phone), Brady and Jastremski spoke by telephone at least twice on January 19 (calls lasting a total of 25 minutes and 2 seconds), twice on January 20 (calls lasting a total of 9 minutes and 55 seconds) and twice on January 21 (calls lasting a total of 20 minutes and 52 seconds) before Jastremski surrendered his cell phone to the Patriots later that day for forensic imaging.

It’s bad enough that Tom Brady broke the rules to gain a competitive advantage. That’s suspension-worthy by itself. To refuse to turn over cell phone records to the NFL for forensic examination is proof that you aren’t cooperating with the NFL’s investigation. That’s worthy of another suspension.

This is just the first article in this series. Check back for more on DeflateGate Thursday morning.

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Months ago, the Vikings football people (primarily GM Rick Spielman and Coach Mike Zimmer) made it clear that Adrian Peterson would finish his career with the Vikings by essentially saying that he’d either play out his contract with them or they’d put him on the involuntary retirement list.

According to this post, Ben Dogra, Peterson’s agent, essentially cried uncle:

Adrian Peterson’s agent is no longer saying he wants out of Minnesota. He’s now saying he wants more money to stay in Minnesota.

Ben Dogra, who has previously said it’s not in Peterson’s best interest to stay with the Vikings, now says that he understands the Vikings will not get rid of Peterson.

“One of the things that I appreciate with the Vikings is their resolve to say ‘we’re not trading him,’” Dogra told USA Today. “That tells me they value him not only as a football player, but what he’s done for the organization. I actually, as an agent, not only appreciate it — I accept it. But actions speak louder than words. If that’s going to happen, and you want to keep him, then show him a commitment to make him retire as a Viking. And I haven’t had that solution.”

Simply put, that’s what it sounds like to hear an agent admit he’s lost this fight. Now it’s time for the Vikings to welcome Adrian back, get him on the same page as QB Teddy Bridgewater and receiver Mike Wallace.

Adrian won’t recognize the defense. They’ve improved significantly since his last game against the Rams. Last night, they improved the defense more by drafting the best cornerback in the draft in Trae Waynes of Michigan State. With 2 more days of the draft left, I won’t be surprised if Spielman finds an offensive lineman or 2 plus a linebacker to improve the Vikings on both sides of the ball.

Check out Scott Wright’s list of best available players for tonight’s part of the draft. There are 4 players on Scott’s list that would be plug-and-play guys with the Vikings, including 2 offensive linemen, on Scott’s best available list.

Tonight, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will make Jameis Winston the first pick in the NFL’s annual Entry Draft. Ten minutes after that pick is officially announced by Commissioner Roger Goodell, Marcus Mariota will become the second pick. The only mystery left about that pick is who will make that pick.

It’s time to dispense with some of the stupidity that’s been masquerading as draft reporting. Gossip columnists like Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio have been talking up the possibility of Philadelphia Head Coach Chip Reid trading up to obtain the Titans’ first round pick. I suspect Florio’s done this hoping that those stories will drive extra views on his blog. If he actually thinks this has a chance of happening, then Mr. Florio needs to be ignored like he just signed a contract with National Enquirer.

Here’s my prediction. Marcus Mariota will be drafted by either the Titans, Jets or Chargers. The Titans won’t trade the second pick in the draft to Cleveland or Philadelphia because the players available at the twelfth, nineteenth or twentieth picks aren’t elite talents. They’re the types of players that likely will be available in the second or third round.

Another rumor that will finally get squashed is whether the Vikings will trade Adrian Peterson to Arizona or the Dallas Cowboys. There’s no question that those teams would love handing the ball off to Adrian. Similarly, there’s no question that it doesn’t make sense to trade a handful of high draft picks to the Vikings when this year’s class of running backs is deep and talented. The Vikings haven’t said no to trading Adrian because they’re still open to letting a team blow them away with an offer. Anything short of that, though, and they’ll politely refuse.

Here’s my prediction for the first half of tonight’s first round:

1. Tampa — Jameis Winston, QB, FSU
2. Tennessee Titans — Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
3. Jacksonville — Dante Fowler, OLB, Florida
4. Oakland — Leonard Williams, DT/DE, USC
5. Washington — Vic Beasley DE, Clemson
6. NY Jets — Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
7. Chicago — Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
8. Atlanta — Bud Dupree, DE, Kentucky
9. NY Giants — Brandon Scherff, OG, Iowa
10. St. Louis — Davante Parker, WR, Louisville
11. Vikings — Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
12. Cleveland — Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
13. New Orleans — Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida
14. Miami — Ereck Flowers, LT, Miami
15. San Francisco — La’el Collins, LSU
16. Houston — Malcom Brown, NT, Texas

UPDATE: Scott Wright’s final mock draft is up. I like Scott’s picks for the Vikings: Trae Waynes with the 11th overall pick, Shaq Thompson in the 2nd round & TCU Linebacker Paul Dawson in the third round.UPDATE: Scott Wright’s final mock draft is up. I like Scott’s picks for the Vikings: Trae Waynes with the 11th overall pick, Shaq Thompson in the 2nd round & TCU Linebacker Paul Dawson in the third round.

UPDATE II: La’el Collins’ stock is dropping faster than Shane Ray’s is. He might not bet picked until the late third or early fourth round. At this point, Ray might get picked as early as 15th overall.

With the NFL offseason in full swing, gossip columnists like Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk and ‘journalists’ like Adam Shefter of ESPN have run a nauseating amount of articles about Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. Florio has been particularly annoying on that front.

His near-daily posts about what that day’s news means in terms of whether Peterson will be a Viking next opening day is a display of how the NFL encourages media coverage whether there’s anything to report on or not. (There usually isn’t.)

Yesterday, there genuinely was news on the Peterson front. The NFL finally reinstated him after putting him on the Commissioner’s naughty boy list. The Vikings issued this brief statement on Peterson’s reinstatement:

“The Minnesota Vikings have been informed by the NFL that Adrian Peterson has been reinstated. We look forward to Adrian re-joining the Vikings.”

Immediately, the ‘Will Adrian be freed and traded to the Cowboys?’ stories littered the internet again. The answer to that question is simple. Adrian will be traded if another NFL team blows them away with an offer.

Rick Spielman, the Vikings GM, has repeatedly and steadfastly said that they’re looking forward to seeing Adrian lining up behind future superstar QB Teddy Bridgewater. Why wouldn’t he want that? Adrian Peterson is the best running back in the NFL. The last 4 years, he’s been the only offensive weapon the Vikings had. That’s why it’s astonishing he’s been incredibly productive. He’s been the only threat the other team’s defense has had to identify and stop.

That’s meant having 8 or 9 men within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage on, at minimum, 80% of rushing plays. This offseason, the Vikings added Mike Wallace, once the premium deep threat pass catcher in the NFL. Imagine how thrilled he’d be consistently getting man coverage while the defense focuses on Adrian. Imagine the explosiveness of the Vikings offense with Teddy Bridgewater emerging as a Pro Bowl QB with a full set of weapons.

Spielman’s message to other NFL teams has been simple. Adrian’s under contract to us for the next 3 years. If you want him on your team, you’ll have to blow us away with a great offer. If we don’t get that type offer, we’ll just have to figure out a way to use Mr. Peterson.

If Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wants Adrian Peterson playing his home games in Dallas, he’d better put together a great offer. If he doesn’t, Adrian Peterson will remain a Viking.

Judge Doty’s 16 page ruling in the NFLPA’s lawsuit on Adrian Peterson’s behalf against the NFL contains some bombshell statements. This part of Judge Doty’s ruling is particularly stinging:

Moreover, Henderson’s conclusion that the New Policy is consistent with the previous Policy is contradicted by the Commissioner’s own statements in which he acknowledged that the New Policy included “changes” to the Policy. See, e.g., id. Ex. 65, at 1 (“I made a mistake. I’m not satisfied with the process we went through, I’m not satisfied with the conclusions. And that’s why we came out last month and said: we’re going to make changes to our policies. We made changes to our discipline.”); see also id. Ex. 35, at 99:21-100:15.

At the heart of the NFL’s defense was that the Commissioner had great latitude in determining Adrian Peterson’s punishment.

Judge Doty’s ruling didn’t just criticize Commissioner Goodell. It criticized Henderson, too:

The NFLPA next argues that Henderson exceeded his authority by adjudicating the hypothetical question of whether Peterson’s discipline could be sustained under the previous Policy. The NFL responds that the NFLPA submitted that issue to Henderson. The record belies the NFL’s argument. The NFLPA submitted to Henderson “the pure legal issue” of whether the New Policy could be applied retroactively. NFLPA Ex. 122, 21:22-22:24; see also id. Ex. 20, at 4. Nothing in the record supports a finding that the NFLPA asked Henderson to determine whether the discipline imposed was consistent with the previous Policy.

In other words, Harold Henderson tried justifying his decision by saying that the NFLPA asked him to. That isn’t the only time where Judge Doty criticized the NFL’s arbitrator:

Henderson was an NFL executive for nearly two decades and apparently continues on in a part-time capacity, earning $2.5 million in compensation from the NFL since 2009.

This footnote was found at the bottom of Page 8 of Judge Doty’s ruling. This information, by itself, isn’t damning. The fact that Henderson’s ruling sounded like the NFL’s press release, coupled with his less-than-impartial ruling, however, all but state explicitly that Henderson was Commissioner’s self-appointed hatchet man against Adrian Peterson.

ProFootballTalk stated that the NFL hasn’t had a good year in the courts. That’s what happens when a tyrant thinks he has the authority to make the rules up as he goes. That’s what third world dictators get away with. High profile CEOs of major corporations don’t get away with that very often.

It’s getting tiresome listening to Bill Belichick’s spin. Thankfully, Jay Glazer’s article sheds new light into #DeflateGate. First, though, here’s Belichick’s latest offensive spin:

New England head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady both have proclaimed innocence and said they were unaware how the footballs became underinflated.

“At no time was there any intent whatsoever to try to compromise the integrity of the game or to gain an advantage,” Belichick said in an unscheduled availability on Saturday afternoon.

“Quite the opposite: we feel like we followed the rules of the game to the letter,” he said. “We try to do everything right. We err on the side of caution. It’s been that way now for many years. Anything that’s close, we stay as far away from the line as we can.”

Notice Belichick’s weasel words in that last paragraph. “We feel like we followed the rules of the game to the letter.” That’s totally irrelevant and subjective. The NFL has confirmed that the Patriots’ footballs a) complied with the NFL’s rules before the game and b) didn’t comply with the NFL’s rules at halftime. That’s an objective standard. Either the Patriots’ footballs complied with the NFL’s rules or they didn’t. In this instance, they didn’t.

That isn’t the only objectionable thing Belichick said. Here’s another statement worth ignoring:

“We try to do everything right. We err on the side of caution. It’s been that way now for many years. Anything that’s close, we stay as far away from the line as we can.”

Coach Belichick, are you saying that the Patriots stay well within the lines of the NFL’s rules? If that’s what you’re insisting, I’d love hearing your explanation for how the Patriots organization was fined for videotaping the Jets’ defensive signals, which isn’t permitted by the NFL’s rules. It isn’t permitted because it gives a team a major competitive advantage.

If the Patriots knew what the Jets were doing before they did it, the Patriots could install plays to take advantage of the Jets’ play-calling. That’s a major advantage.

What’s insulting is that Coach Belichick was personally fined $500,000 and the NFL confiscated the Patriots’ first round draft pick for breaking the NFL’s rules. So much for the Patriots erring “on the side of caution” and staying “as far away from the line” as possible.

Tom Brady used some slippery words in his attempt to explain this away:

“I didn’t alter the ball in any way,” Brady said. “I have a process before every game where I take the footballs I want to use for the game. Our equipment guys do a great job breaking the balls in for the game. Our equipment guys have a process they go through.”

Nobody accused Brady of altering the balls. Here’s what John Madden said:

“That would have to be driven by the quarterback,” Madden told The Sports Xchange on Wednesday. “That’s something that wouldn’t be driven by a coach or just the equipment guy. Nobody, not even the head coach, would do anything to a football unilaterally, such as adjust the amount of pressure in a ball, without the quarterback not knowing. It would have to be the quarterback’s idea.”

Madden’s position makes a lot of sense. Quarterbacks are particular about their footballs. Anybody doing anything to the footballs without the quarterback’s knowledge or consent would be asking for a tongue lashing. In Brady’s case, his tongue wouldn’t be needed to formulate the various “F” words that would be hurled at he who messes with the quarterback’s primary tool.

“He is the effected,” Madden said. “He is the only guy. I heard some of the pundits saying the ball is easier to catch, but that would never, ever, ever be done for that unless the quarterback wanted it. You wouldn’t do something for a receiver to catch the ball if the quarterback couldn’t throw it. So it’s going to be done for the quarterback.”

Brady and Bill Belichick. One lies. The other one swears to it.

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