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Why Tuesday's News From Roger Goodell Was A Huge Story

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) -- Any reasonable human being would have to agree that in the grand scheme of life -- or, heck, even in the narrow prism through which we view sports -- "DeflateGate" was not a particularly important matter.

Yet, given the nine months of exhaustive coverage of the soap opera both from the sports and the traditional news media, and given the significant punishments levied on the Patriots, and given the federal court case between the NFL and Tom Brady that's still ongoing, we would all have to say that "DeflateGate" was a pretty huge deal.

If we accept that as fact, then yesterday's news from Roger Goodell has to be considered a bombshell.

Goodell announced that not only will the NFL not be releasing any recorded PSI data from this past season, but that recorded PSI data doesn't even exist. Or at least, it was never meant to exist, because the NFL was not conducting an experiment; the league was just testing footballs haphazardly to keep its referees and game officials busy during their normal break.

Despite the NFL laying out a procedure that forced referees to report recorded PSI levels from halftime and after randomly selected games, Goodell denied that such a practice was meant to be an experiment to see if all of those scientists and physicists were actually right. Instead, Goodell claimed that the procedures were put in place merely as a deterrent to prevent any teams from tampering with footballs.

Yet is there any one sad soul on the planet who believes that if the recorded data showed that the air pressure inside footballs never dropped in different atmospheric conditions, that the NFL would not release the data?


Roger Goodell has staked his entire reputation on this foolish case, and it's one he's still fighting in a federal appeals court. Releasing recorded data that shows footballs do in fact lose air pressure in different temperatures would prove him to have been wrong all along. After investing millions upon millions of dollars, and after dedicating more than a year of his life to the matter, Goodell obviously is too proud to wave any sort of white flag.

Worse, it would prove that he paid Exponent as well as Princeton University's Dr. Daniel Marlow to twist science. It sure is interesting how fundamental principles of science can be bent when there is a fat paycheck involved. (To be fair, the people at Exponent technically concluded that it could not reasonably deduce that the footballs were definitely tampered with. But they did intentionally deceive readers with a photograph in their report, which was also flawed in other ways, and they did determine that there was no set of atmospheric conditions that could have explained the balls' loss in pressure.)

Yet while Tuesday's news was significant, it was not surprising to anyone who's been paying attention. Anyone who read the transcript from Tom Brady's appeal hearing knew that in the midst of the NFL's honchos descending onto the Gillette Stadium field and officials' locker room with pressure gauges in hand, the geniuses never once accounted for basic science.

From Tom Brady's appeal hearing on June 25:

Jeffrey Kessler, Brady's attorney: Now, at the time that was true, did you know that the footballs were automatically going to lose pressure if it was cold outside compared to how warm it was inside? Was that ever something you thought about prior to this game?

Troy Vincent, NFL executive VP of game operations: No, sir.

Kessler: OK. Now we then get to the halftime. You were present for the halftime testing, correct?

Vincent: Yes, sir.

Kessler: And is it fair to say you did not tell anybody to record the temperature in the room at the halftime testing, correct?

Vincent: No, sir.

Kessler: And nobody recorded the temperature in the room at the halftime testing, correct?

Vincent: Not to my knowledge.

Kessler: Right. You didn't tell anybody to record the exact time when different balls were tested at the halftime, correct?

Vincent: No, sir.

Kessler: And to your knowledge, nobody recorded that?

Vincent: Not to my knowledge.

Kessler: You didn't tell anybody to record whether or not the balls were tested on the Colts before reinflating the Patriots' balls or after? You didn't instruct anybody to record that anywhere, correct?

Vincent: No, sir.

Kessler: And to your knowledge, it was not recorded anywhere?

Vincent: Not to my knowledge.

Kessler: OK. You didn't instruct anyone to indicate whether the balls were wet or dry at the time they were being tested, correct?

Vincent: No, but most were wet.


Kessler: And when this testing was done, no one told the referees, hey, see if it's a dry ball and note that or if it's a wet ball, right? No one was asked to record that?

Vincent: Not to my knowledge.

Kessler: And the reason for no one doing this is because neither you nor anyone else was thinking about the Ideal Gas Law or how time or temperature or wetness may affect these readings, right?

Vincent: Correct.


Kessler: Now, when you say, "They had eleven balls 10 under compliance," what you meant is that they had 11 eleven balls that were below 12.5 being measured, 12 correct?

Vincent: Yes.

Kessler: But at the time, you didn't know that some of that reduction could happen just because of cold or wetness or other factors, right? That just wasn't something you were aware of, correct?

Vincent: I didn't include science, no, sir.

Troy Vincent -- a man whose foremost job responsibility is to "protect the integrity" of the NFL, a man who was in the center of The Great Air Pressure Measurement of 2015 -- admitted that at no point did the NFL or anyone measuring the footballs know one thing about science. Every single part of the NFL's "investigation" was done under the assumption that the Patriots were guilty. Everything else worked backward from that spot, and if science had to be twisted (or obliterated) in some cases, then so be it. You only get so many chances to catch a team "cheating" red-handed.

That transcript was released on Aug. 4, but at that point, most everyone in the country had already made up their minds. Very few cared to read that document, which was without a doubt the most damning piece of evidence against the NFL.

And so, much like the release of that transcript, Tuesday's news will most likely go largely unnoticed by the American public at large. CNN and Fox News won't dedicate hours of programming to it, ESPN won't assemble panels of talking heads to openly doubt Goodell's truthfulness, and intensive investigations will not be launched to probe what kind of misbehavior was taking place inside NFL headquarters in New York.

Instead, the news will get nary a mention on the Worldwide Leader (the story did not appear on's homepage or on its NFL landing page as of Wednesday morning, though locally, the story is being covered on ESPN Boston), the Patriots will sit out the first round of the NFL Draft, and Brady will continue to have to fight his suspension in a federal court.

It's a remarkably dishonest job from everyone involved in the fiasco as well as most everyone who's covered it in the media. The disparity in coverage and attention makes little sense, but then again, what about "DeflateGate" has ever made sense?

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

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