No, that headline was not meant to be clickbait or to give Patriots fans a distraction to the franchise’s best player getting suspended for a quarter of the season. It’s the truth. The NFL Players’ Association took a humongous hit today, and I hope that they have the backbone to admit how badly they screwed up.
Ever since a reporter for a huge sports media conglomerate and another from a newspaper based in the capital of Indiana, whose names and company names I refuse to write because it gives them the publicity that they so crave (it’s not like they are about journalistic integrity, after all), misreported facts about how the Patriots “cheated” during the AFC Championship Game, fans and media alike have overlooked the most far-reaching aspect of this case. The NFL Players’ Association gave Roger Goodell the power to be the judge and jury for these types of decisions, and they gave him so much power that an Appellate court in NYC decided that such power superceded actual science and fact. And while I’m upset with the Appellate Court, who apparently used the Wells Report in their decision despite the fact that every scientist who took a look at the report said it was BS, I’m far more upset with the NFLPA.
While Roger Goodell has significantly elevated his status of villain in the past 5 years, the players knew that he was an enemy before the 2011 lockout. It’s not breaking news that he’s an owner’s puppet who will gladly prioritize making the owners happy over morality and fairness. Therefore, why in the world would they agree to a CBA that allows Goodell to be the judge and jury? Actually, judge and jury isn’t a fair assessment. Goodell is essentially the police, prosecution, judge, and jury, and he was allowed to pay off the crime scene investigators (Wells) to prove exactly what he wanted to hear. That doesn’t seem like a fair system of justice, which makes it all the more baffling that the NFLPA would agree to such a statute.
The NFLPA just lost one of their best players for the first 4 games of the season, and what’s more, a United States Appellate Court just determined that they have to take each of Roger Goodell’s beatings on the chin, no matter how unfair they are. The NFLPA has to live with this statute for another 4 years until the CBA expires in 2020, and they have no one to blame but themselves.
I know this isn’t what you want to hear right now, but Tom Brady is to blame for this as well. It’s not just DeMaurice Smith, head of the NFLPA, who shoulders the blame for Brady’s suspension. Brady was a high ranking member of the NFLPA during the CBA negotiations in 2011, and while he wasn’t as high ranking as the name of the case, “Brady vs. NFL,” would suggest, he was certainly high enough that he deserves his fair share of blame for this. Players should never accept a statute like this. If a union is going to be in place, then a union should be able to have basic rights that allow its workers to operate as if they were living in, you know, America. When it comes to punishment, the NFLPA has no such rights, which is all the more evidence we need to know that the NFLPA is far more inferior than the players’ associations in other sports. One judge ruled that the commissioner’s ruling was unfair, and the higher court came along and said “Yeah, but they have the right to be that unfair, the NFLPA agreed to it.” That’s a problem, and it sucks for Patriots fans that Tom Brady is the one paying for it. Remember, though, Tom Brady shares the blame in this one, and I’ll bet you THAT’S what is going to cause him a sleepless night tonight — not footballs that were never actually underinflated.