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A Brief History Of Why Roger Goodell Won't Be 'Honored' To Give Tom Brady A Super Bowl Trophy

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) -- The Patriots' being back in the Super Bowl brings with it an avalanche of added attention on topics that otherwise might not be dominating the sports news cycle.

And as has been clearly unavoidable in the few days since the Patriots punched their Super Bowl LI ticket three nights ago, the public wants to talk about Tom Brady vs. Roger Goodell.

Considering Goodell was the face of the DeflateGate hunt on Brady and the Patriots -- with the commissioner going so far as to force himself into a role of arbitrator despite having no legal background whatsoever -- it's only natural that Goodell became a villain to many fans in New England.

Outside of New England, though, the story may be somewhat convoluted. "Isn't everybody up there just acting like a giant bunch of babies?" one might reasonably ask. The answer to that question is a matter of opinion, but for the purpose of explaining the root cause of the Brady-Goodell divide, please allow for a brief history lesson.

For the sake of keeping things simple, throw the whole Wells Report and the text messages and the PSI readings out the window. None of that is relevant to this issue.

The issue arose when Roger Goodell made the decision, after a "formal" appeal process at NFL headquarters, to uphold his own initial ruling of a four-game suspension for Brady. The commissioner made this announcement on July 28, 2015 -- more than a full month after the appeal hearing took place and just a few days before Patriots training camp kicked off in earnest. The tactical delay by Goodell to announce a ruling he had likely reached before the appeal hearing even ended had obvious intentions: with football season in full swing and with the regular season a little more than a month away, the pressure for Brady to decide to appeal to a federal court would be significantly more intense than if the decision had been announced in, say, early July.

The mere act of Goodell taking 35 days to uphold his initial ruling was in and of itself a calculated offensive in the effort to win and force Brady to wave a white flag.

But that was not the main issue. Not even close.

In the midst of Goodell's 20-page ruling (known more for the juicy nugget of Brady volunteering the information during the hearing that he destroyed his phone than for the rest of its contents), he spoke of the increased communication between Tom Brady and assistant equipment manager John Jastremski as being very suspicious. This uptick in communication came after at least six months of no cell phone calls or text messages exchanged, and it came after the story of the Patriots' use of deflated footballs had made national headlines.

Now, naturally, if every radio station and sports network in the country was discussing the story that an investigation had been launched, the involved parties might want to talk to each other to ask what might have happened. However, Goodell told the world that Brady denied ever talking to Jastremski about the budding scandal.

To anybody reading that claim, it became clear: Tom Brady is a liar. It was and is inconceivable for any rational human being to believe that Brady would be talking to Jastremski about the preparation of game balls for the Super Bowl and not about the controversy that was quickly gaining steam.

Here are Goodell's own words (provided he actually wrote the document to which he signed his name):

"Mr. Brady testified that he was unable to recall any specifics of those discussions and he suggested that their principal subject was preparation of game balls for the Super Bowl. But the need for such frequent communication beginning on January 19 is difficult to square with the fact that there apparently was no need to communicate by cellphone with Mr. Jastremski or to meet personally with him in the 'QB room" during the preceding twenty weeks of the regular season and post-season prior to the AFC Championship Game."


"The sharp contrast between the almost complete absence of communications through the AFC Championship Game and the extraordinary volume of communications during the three days following the AFC Championship Game undermines any suggestion that the communications addressed only preparation of footballs for the Super Bowl rather than the tampering allegations and their anticipated responses to inquiries about the tampering."

As you can clearly see, Goodell is making it very clear: Brady did not admit that he talked about the allegations when he spoke to Jastremski, and so, this is very suspicious and not at all believable.

The centerpiece of Goodell's argument came in a footnote on Page 8. If you read nothing else on this page, read this:

"In response to the question, 'Why were you talking to Mr. Jastremski in those two weeks?,' Mr. Brady responded, in sum, 'I think most of the conversations centered around breaking in the balls [for the Super Bowl].' For the reasons noted, I do not fully credit that testimony."

I'm going to run that again:

"In response to the question, 'Why were you talking to Mr. Jastremski in those two weeks?,' Mr. Brady responded, in sum, 'I think most of the conversations centered around breaking in the balls [for the Super Bowl].' For the reasons noted, I do not fully credit that testimony."

See that one more time: "I do not fully credit that testimony."

In simpler terms: I believe Tom Brady was lying when he said this.

And, as a reader, certainly you would feel the same way. Anyone who denied even talking about the allegations is obviously a liar.

This was a lie which Goodell intended to get away with, because the NFL did not ever plan to release the transcript from the appeal hearing. As far as the public would know, Goodell's word would be gospel, Brady would be known as an out-and-out liar, and that would be that.

Unfortunately for Goodell, when Brady did decide to appeal the case, it ended up in a New York courtroom, and U.S. District Judge Richard Berman decided to make public that appeal hearing transcript. With the document unsealed, the world got to see the farcical proceedings as they played out over a 10-hour span in NFL headquarters.

Included in that transcript was Tom Brady's full testimony. And it was in that testimony that it became clear that in the most publicized decision of his career as commissioner, Roger Gooddell told a bald-faced lie.

Here is testimony from Brady, with the questions being asked by attorney Jeffrey Kessler, in front of Goodell, who was the arbitrator.

Q: Now, after this radio interview, you heard this allegation; did you speak to anyone in the Patriots about this allegation?

Brady: I spoke to John.

Q: Okay. And did you ask Mr. Jastremski if he knew anything about the efforts to deflate the footballs or anything like that?

Brady: Yes.

Q: What did he tell you?

Brady: That he has no idea what happened and that he couldn't explain it.

Later, Brady was asked specifically about the text message he sent to Jastremski, in which he asked, "You good, Jonny Boy?"

Brady: I wrote, "You good, Jonny boy," like, you doing okay? Because he was obviously nervous the fact that these allegations were coming out that they would fall back on him. And I was just, I guess, expressing my concern for him.

Q: Now, you then wrote to him, "You didn't do anything wrong, bud." Why did you say that? Was that based on your conversation with him?

Brady: Yeah, I said, "You didn't do anything wrong,bud." That's how I, you know.

Q: And then he writes back, "I know. I will be all good."

Brady: Yeah.

Q: Did that set of texts refer in any way to your knowing that he had done anything to deflate footballs or anything like that at all?

Brady: No.

Brady then discussed a meeting he had had with Jastremski to go over Super Bowl ball preparation (teams need to prepare roughly 100 footballs for the Super Bowl, as opposed to 12 or 24, because the NFL takes the balls out of the game after every play to sell for charity and other endeavors. Brady was asked if, during the course of this conversation, the allegations of ball deflation might have come up.

Q: Is it possible that something came up about is he feeling okay because you heard that?

Brady: Sure, absolutely.

Q: But anything beyond that, do you remember any conversations about the allegations?

Brady: I don't remember.

Later, Brady was asked about a text message sent from Jastremski to Brady, saying that equipment manager Dave Schoenfeld would be talking to him about the allageations.

Q: What's your understanding of what they say referring to here in these texts with you and Mr. Jastremski?

Brady: That John was telling me that Dave would be picking my brain about it and that he wasn't accusing him and he was trying to get to the bottom of it and he knows it's unrealistic that I did it. So that was just the heads-up. And I wrote back, "No worries bud, we are all good," because I obviously didn't think we had anything to do with it.

Q. Now, when he wrote, "It's unrealistic you did it yourself," did you have any knowledge that Mr. Jastremski or Mr. McNally or anybody had done anything to the balls?

Brady: No.

Q. Did you understand him to be saying here that, well, I did it, but you could have done it? Did you view it as a confession by Mr. Jastremski? Is that your understanding of the text?

Brady: No.

Q. What did you understand he was saying here when he said, "It's unrealistic you did it yourself"?

Brady: That he knows, he knows, "It's unrealistic that you did it yourself, but he's still going to ask you about it."

Q. Did it in any way indicate that Mr. Jastremski did it or Mr. McNally or anyone else
in your mind at the time if you remember when you read it? Did you think that?

Brady: No.

During Brady's testimony, Goodell appeared to have been struggling to keep his focus. Here's one example:

Q. And do you know whether in the six months prior to January 19, 2015, you had ever communicated with John Jastremski by telephone?

Brady: Yes.

Q. How many times?

Brady: I think once or twice.

Goodell: Just so I am clear, once or twice in the six months prior to the Championship Game?

Brady: Yes.

Goodell also lacked a grasp on the basic facts of the situation, such as the location of a game in October in which the Patriots' footballs were found to have been pumped as high as 16 PSI by the officials. Goodell believed that the game took place in New York, not Foxboro.

During the cross-examination, led by Lorin Reisner (who was also on the "independent" Ted Wells investigation team, coincidentally), Brady was peppered with questions about his uptick in communication with Jastremski, even though he had already answered many of those same questions in the direct examination.

Nevertheless, here is how Brady answered the NFL's questioning:

Q: And do you recall what you and John Jastremski discussed during that 11-minutes-and-one-second telephone call?

Brady: I don't remember exactly what we discussed. But like I said, there was two things that were happening. One was the allegations which we were facing and the second was getting ready for the Super Bowl, which both of those have never happened before. So me talking to him about those things that were unprecedented, you know, he was the person that I would be communicating with.

Later, after another series of very specific questions:

Q. Do you recall the substance of either of those two telephone calls referenced in the report?

Brady: I don't remember exactly what we talked about, but like I said, there were two things happening simultaneously and I really wanted John focused other than what he needed to get accomplished with the footballs, so I was trying to make sure that he was good and that, you know, he felt responsible for, you know, the attacks. And I was trying to make sure that he was composed so that he could do his job over the course of the next two weeks.

And again, on the redirect with Kessler:

Q: Okay. What did you want Mr. Jastremski to mostly be focused on?

Brady: The Super Bowl.

Q: Did you tell him that?

Brady: Absolutely.

Q: Were you concerned that he might get distracted by these other allegations being made?

Brady: Absolutely.

Q: Okay. And was that something you would have discussed with him, he needs to focus on the Super Bowl?

Brady: Absolutely.

Here was the final question that Reisner asked on the re-cross:

Q: And you say that it is possible that you and John Jastremski were discussing the concerns that had been raised about ball deflation levels, right?

Brady: Yes.

"Yes." A definitive yes. There was no room for interpretation. The answer was yes.

Even if you didn't take the time to read all of those words, you can see by the sheer volume of questions and answers that Brady most certainly stated under oath that he spoke about the deflated football allegations with John Jastremski.

And yet, a month later when Goodell upheld his own ruling, he said this: "In response to the question, 'Why were you talking to Mr. Jastremski in those two weeks?,' Mr. Brady responded, in sum, 'I think most of the conversations centered around breaking in the balls [for the Super Bowl].' For the reasons noted, I do not fully credit that testimony."

With the entire world keeping a keen eye on Goodell and the NFL to see what the ruling would be, Goodell decided to craft a lie because he thought he could get away with it. And it was a repeat of his own previous behavior, as he did the same thing to Ray Rice in what was another high-profile controversy.

Roger Goodell intentionally and brazenly lied.

It is the very charge he levied against Brady, and it was why he applied such a harsh level of punishment.

And it is exactly why when Goodell states that it won't be awkward and that it "would be an honor" to hand either the Lombardi Trophy or the Super Bowl MVP Trophy to Tom Brady, it is a complete and utter lie.

I do not credit Goodell's testimony.

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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