BOSTON (CBS) -- The AFC Championship Game took place in January. It was Jan. 18, to be exact. It was smack dab in the middle of winter. Boston was a few days away from getting slammed with 30 inches of snow. The Super Bowl was two weeks away.
It is now July. The heat and humidity has arrived in Boston. Beaches are filled with sweaty humans and the highways to Cape Cod are backed up with miles upon miles of folks desperate to escape the dog days. Training camps around the NFL -- that is, training camp for next football season -- will be open before you know it.
Nearly half a year has passed since the Patriots demolished the Colts, yet impossibly, ludicrously, illogically, we are still talking about potentially slightly underinflated footballs. We're still doing it!
We're doing it now because NFL commissioner Roger Goodell very -- very -- awkwardly told CNBC that his ruling on Tom Brady's appeal hearing could come soon. How soon? Roger didn't want to say. Could it come next week? Maybe!
While media outlets -- including this one -- have run with this morsel of "news," very few have asked this question: How does he know the ruling will come next week if the ruling has not yet been made?
In putting a potential date on his announcement, is Goodell not just blatantly admitting that he's planning the release of the ruling for a time that most benefits his league ... say, the day after MLB's All-Star Game, aka the quietest period in the entire sports calendar, aka a time when every sports media outlet in the country would theoretically be free to talking about his league for about 48 hours straight?
Shocking as this development may be, it's reminiscent of Goodell going on a media tour in late April, telling everyone that the results of Ted Wells' investigation were coming "soon." This was an "independent investigation," so Goodell really should not have known the status of its progress. But he did, and nobody really raised an eyebrow, because everybody knew how much of a dog and pony show this entire investigation has been from the beginning.
And so it goes. Next week (maybe), Goodell will announce his ruling on Brady's fate. Mind you, Brady's hearing took place on June 23, so Goodell has already had nearly three weeks to contemplate his decision. While most folks with brains would wonder what could possibly be taking him so long, I'm not here to ask questions. I'm here to provide answers.
So here is why Goodell needs some more time to make this decision.
(Goodell says this word quite often, even when it doesn't make any sense, as if it will magically make the entire NFL operation full of integrity. So I'm just following his lead here.)
7. He's Still Doing His Taxes
Regular folks like you and I have to file our taxes by April 15, or else we'll get deported and thrown into an off-shore jail. Or something like that.
But when you're hauling in $44 million per year, and you're very busy at work doing ... whatever it is that keeps Rog busy when he's at work, it takes a little bit longer to file those W-2's.
So once he finishes up on TurboTax, trims the hedges, fixes that leaky gutter and finally gets around to scrubbing that messy bathroom, he'll sit down and get to ruling on Brady's appeal. The man's got stuff to do, leave him alone.
6. He's Practicing His Eventual Testimony In Court
Roger's no dummy. He knows that anything short of a complete elimination of Brady's suspension will result in Jeffrey Kessler taking the case to court. And Roger has a memory, too. He remembers taking the stand when Kessler took him to court during Ray Rice's appeal, and whoa boy, was it rough.
Roger claimed that he didn't know what the word "formal" meant. This is a man who went to college.
He also stated, "I'm not an attorney," which won't really fly this time around. It's hard to plead ignorance of legal proceedings when you yourself just played dress-up as Judge Judy for Brady's appeal hearing.
So maybe Goodell is sitting down with an actual attorney to practice what's going to take place in court. When he stumbled his way through his testimony in the Ray Rice hearing, not many people paid attention or cared, because Ray Rice had done a very bad thing and deserved punishment. But a few more people might be watching closely this time around, and Rog will want to be ready.
5. He's Going Back In Time And Indicting Brady For Spygate
You see, there was some troubling wording in Goodell's initial announcement of punishment, wording that no doubt has been parsed and torn apart by Brady's lawyers. For one, Goodell indicated that Troy Vincent came up with the suspension, and that the commissioner just authorized it. When told by the NFLPA that the CBA forbids that, Goodell assured everybody, Oh no, that? That?! That ruling was all me. Troy just made a recommendation. But that was my decision.
But secondly, Goodell/Vincent seemed to hold Spygate against Brady. A four-game suspension for a player is one that would normally only be given when the player is a repeat offender. And Vincent noted that the offense in 2007 was indeed held against the Patriots.
But Brady? Brady had nothing to do with Spygate. He wasn't out there with his Sony Handycam filming coaches. He was playing football. So why the repeat offender treatment for Brady?
Gah! You're asking too many questions. Rather than trying to come up with a reasonable answer, Goodell might be in a lab, trying to build a time machine so he can go back to 2007 and explain that Brady was guilty for something.
Short of doing that ... his suspension makes even less sense than originally thought.
4. He's Shopping For More Dad Jeans
Hopefully when he was on his stroll with Robert Kraft, Goodell asked the Patriots owner for some fashion tips. Because, come on, man. You're the fourth-most stylish person in this photograph, and it's not even close.
3. He Knows I'm Going On Vacation
OK. So. Do I really think Roger Goodell has caught wind of all the stories I've written since February and dislikes them so much that he went ahead and found out my vacation schedule so that he could drop the news when I'm far away from Wi-Fi and therefore unable to point out the various hypocrisies and logical failures which will inevitably be spread throughout his ruling? Well, no. Not exactly.
But it can't be ruled out.
2. He's Playing The Longest Ever Game Of Chicken With His Employees ... Over A Pizza
Remember the Ray Rice mess? Roger would prefer you didn't, but of course you do. Well, during the fallout of that whole ugly situation, Goodell and NFL employees were having a bunch of meetings. According to The Wall Street Journal, these meetings were intended to come up with a strategy to "prove the commissioner wasn't covering up for Mr. Rice." I don't know where you're from, but in my neck of the woods, you don't have to strategize how to prove you weren't part of a cover-up if you were in fact not part of a cover-up. Typically, only someone involved in a cover-up would need to hold such meetings.
ANYHOO! During these meetings, the employees ordered a pizza. A delicious, steamy, piping-hot New York pizza. Mmm. Mouth-watering stuff.
Well, unfortunately for the NFL employees, their saliva was all they got to eat that night.
"[B]ut no slice was taken until Mr. Goodell ate. He never did, and the slices turned cold in the box," the report sadly stated.
While this is without a doubt the greatest atrocity to take place under Goodell's watch (RIP Pizza, pour one out), is it not possible that the vicious cycle is happening all over again?
Remember, Brady's appeal hearing ran for more than 10 hours. They ordered dinner, and wrapped up at a reasonable hour. Maybe Goodell ordered a pizza but left the building without eating it. Maybe, while Goodell is hobnobbing in Idaho with a bunch of richie rich faces, that pizza is still there, sitting in that basement at 345 Park Avenue. Maybe Goodell, knowing there is zero chance that Brady serves a four-game suspension, is waiting to see which one of his employees takes a bit of that stale, nasty pizza. Whoever does will incur the wrath of the almighty Goodell.
This is the most likely scenario, folks. Case solved.
1. He Knows That Power Is Delicious
Tom Brady plays things pretty cool, but Roger knows that behind closed doors, Tom is squirming.
And if you think about things, it's the players who make the game what it is. It's the players who make football great. It's the players who allow owners to become billionaires and commissioners to become richer than kings. Commissioners can be replaced. All-time great players only come around once or twice in a generation.
And Tom Brady is arguably the single most popular player in this league.
And right now, Goodell holds absolute power over him.
And as soon as the ruling is made, he loses that power.
Goodell is a man who took office in 2006 and developed a reputation as being a "hammer" of justice. Showing up on the cover of Time Magazine with the headline of "The Enforcer" was no doubt his crowning achievement. Early in his tenure, he set out to earn that reputation. He issued suspensions with regularity, coming down hard on Michael Vick, Adam "Pacman" Jones, Tank Johnson and Chris Henry, thereby putting the league on notice that a new sheriff was in town.
But then, Goodell got sidetracked by an increase in national awareness about concussions, CTE and brain damage caused by football. Player discipline slowly took a backseat, falling so far by the wayside that Goodell only suspended Ray Rice for two games after he punched, knocked out, and dragged the lifeless body of a woman out of an elevator. This was, without a doubt, Goodell's most embarrassing moment, and he spent the next four months in complete damage control.
And then, as the furor over Rice died down, what fell into his lap? Why of course, "DeflateGate."
It was the perfect opportunity for Goodell to flex his muscles again, put his foot down and say, "I AM THE LAW. YOU WILL RESPECT MY AUTHORI-TAY!"
It's been fun for Roger, but he knows that as soon as he issues his ruling, that power falls out of his hands. Maybe there is the slight chance that Brady accepts a lessened punishment, but it's more likely than not that Brady, Kessler et al. will be immediately taking this thing to court. And in court, Goodell is powerless, and he'll more likely than not end up losing. Again.
That's no fun for Roger. So he's going to revel in his own power for one more glorious week.
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