‘Deflategate’ Cloud over the Super Bowl

Exclusive: There’s a larger point to the NFL’s bizarre Deflategate story – how checks and balances have broken down in America letting powerful institutions do almost whatever they want to anyone even Tom Brady, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Yes, I know that many people hate Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. And many others couldn’t care less that the National Football League deemed Brady a cheater, a liar and a perjurer over the silly Deflategate scandal. But that is why it makes an excellent case study of how a powerful institution and its clever lawyers can make almost nothing into almost anything and get many people to go along.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

Very similar techniques are used in more serious circumstances, such as the U.S. government and mainstream media demonizing some foreign leader in marching the American people in lockstep into another war.

So, the moral behind the story of Brady and the NFL is that the public should be alert whenever some powerful institution lodges an accusation against some figure who is widely disliked. The troubling truth is that often a mob-like excitement overwhelms any skepticism, leaving the few doubters of the establishment’s claims labeled “apologists” and most everyone else going along.

That was what happened in January 2015 when the Deflategate case began to unfold under the intense media spotlight of a Super Bowl. Brady and the Patriots headed into that game, Super Bowl 49, surrounded by amateur sleuthing into why the Patriots’ footballs in the AFC Championship game had tested at halftime below the league standard of 12.5 pounds per square inch or PSI.

In retrospect, we can put together what actually happened: how NFL officials didn’t know the physics of the Ideal Gas Law, how the media stampede gathered speed despite a dearth of evidence, and how rival NFL owners then seized on the “scandal” to hobble the Patriots and disgrace Brady. But many Americans, who rely on The New York Times or ESPN, may still believe the charges are credible.

An Inauspicious Beginning

The story began on Jan. 18, 2015, on a cold and rainy night in Foxborough, Massachusetts, where the Patriots were hosting the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game.

New England Patriot quarterback Tom Brady.

Before the game, NFL officials had set the Patriots footballs for use on their offensive plays at 12.5 PSI – Brady’s preferred number at the low end of the permissible level compared to the high end of 13.5 PSI. The Patriots’ AFC opponent, the Indianapolis Colts set their footballs at 13 PSI.

However, because the game was played in the cold and rain, the PSI naturally declined below the 12.5 PSI for the footballs of both teams. But when the Colts intercepted one of Brady’s passes in the first half and tested it, they noticed that it was below the legal limit and complained to the officials.

It turned out that no one involved in this initial phase understood the eighth-grade physics of the Ideal Gas Law, which was first promulgated in 1834 and measures how the PSI of an enclosed gas rises or falls depending on the outside temperature.

So, the NFL officials confiscated the Patriots’ other 11 footballs at halftime and brought them indoors for a hastily organized effort to test the PSI with two different gauges – one of which was fairly accurate while the other wasn’t – and found the footballs below the 12.5 PSI standard. The officials then added air to the Patriots’ footballs.

Sometime toward the end of the testing, the officials also checked the Colts’ footballs, botching one test and running out of time for eight of them but finding the other three were below the 12.5 PSI limit on the gauge that turned out to be accurate but above 12.5 PSI on the inaccurate gauge. No air was added to the Colts’ footballs.

The measurements were further compromised by the fact that the longer the footballs remained indoors in warmer temperatures the more they naturally re-inflated. The NFL officials later claimed not to remember the precise chronology or timing of the process, including whether they re-inflated the Patriots’ footballs before checking four of the Colts’ footballs.

After the game, which the Patriots won 45-7, the balls were checked again with the re-inflated Patriots’ footballs above the 12.5 PSI legal standard but the Colts’ footballs below 12.5 PSI. In other words, the Colts had played both halves of the game with under-inflated footballs, yet it was the Patriots who came under attack.

A Media Frenzy

After the game, some NFL personnel leaked the fact that the Patriots’ footballs had tested below the 12.5 PSI level. The leak also exaggerated how low the measurements were and falsely claimed that the Colts’ footballs had not fallen below 12.5 PSI.

That last inaccuracy proved crucial as the “scandal” exploded across the news media in the following days. Many well-meaning sports fans argued that Brady must be guilty of having organized a plot to illegally deflate the footballs because otherwise the Colts’ footballs would have shown a similar drop in PSI.

The reality is that the Colts’ footballs did experience a PSI drop although the extent was somewhat lessened by the timing of the halftime tests in which the Colts’ footballs were checked after having been in a warmer environment for nearly the entire halftime.

Over the following two weeks amid the Super Bowl media frenzy, there was a rush to judgment in both the sports press and in the mainstream media. Because of the widespread hatred of Brady and the Patriots – especially among fans of teams that had lost painful games to Brady’s team – there was a strong “confirmation bias,” that is, many people wanted to believe that Brady was guilty and thus any innocent action that could be spun in the direction of his guilt was seized upon.

But it was not just most NFL fans and the media that wanted the Deflategate story to be true. More significantly, so too did the owners of the other 31 NFL teams. They saw a chance to hobble the Patriots, who had become the dominant NFL team of the century winning four Super Bowls and appearing in six (now seven).

Yet, as much as fans may want to give their favorite team a boost, that is nothing compared to the intensity that exists in an owner’s box where not only pride but profits are at stake for owners if their teams can win lots of games and possibly a Super Bowl.

In view of that conflict of interest, you might have thought that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would have shielded the investigative process from the prejudice of the 31 other owners but he didn’t. He allowed the NFL Management Council, consisting of powerful rival owners, to weigh in, even letting them recommend how he should evaluate evidence. Goodell’s salary of around $35 million is controlled by the Management Council.

Making a Case

As the Deflategate hysteria gained momentum before and after Super Bowl 49, which the Patriots won with Brady declared the MVP, the NFL brought in a lawyer it had used before, Ted Wells, and hired a scientific firm, Exponent, to review the science.

Exponent was known as a hired-gun operation previously employed by the cigarette industry and other corporate clients to provide data that would help in legal cases.

In Deflategate, the firm at least knew the physics of the Ideal Gas Law but treated the sloppy halftime measurements as reliable – with the NFL offering a questionable chronology of how quickly and in what order the footballs were tested, to the Patriots’ disadvantage.

Ultimately, Exponent determined that all or virtually all of the PSI decline could be attributable to the cold and damp weather, but then imposed a secondary test of probability and concluded that it was unlikely that the weather was the only factor.

The point seemed argumentative, given the other variables surrounding the haphazard tests and the absence of real-life field measurements on football PSI, but it gave the NFL the opening it needed to build a case for Brady’s guilt.

In the meantime, Brady and two Patriot equipment employees who were responsible for the footballs testified that they had done nothing to the footballs after they left the control of the NFL officials. But attorney Wells seized on text messages that the two equipment employees had sent regarding Brady’s complaints about the over-inflation of footballs in an earlier game against the New York Jets.

Although the text messages would seem to have exonerated the pair – at least regarding any previous scheme to deflate footballs since neither referred to why the balls had been over-inflated if Brady had wanted them under-inflated – the comments were treated as a “smoking gun” supposedly proving the case.

Wells also noted that Jim McNally, the equipment employee who carried the footballs to the field, had stopped briefly in a bathroom. Wells speculated that McNally used the time not to urinate as McNally claimed but to hastily remove tiny amounts of air from the 12 footballs. (Wells also made the gotcha observation that McNally mentioned using a urinal when there was only a toilet in the room as if guys are precise about such matters.)

Relying on Wells’s report, the NFL imposed a four-game suspension on Brady, stripped the Patriots of two high draft choices and demanded the firing of the two equipment employees. The New York Times, ESPN and pretty much the entire U.S. news media treated the findings as gospel.

Despite all the hours of commentary and pages of ink devoted to Deflategate, there was almost no serious skepticism applied to Wells’s findings. To this day, the Times and ESPN have not subjected the report’s dubious science and prosecutorial conclusions to critical analysis.

Enter the Rival Owners

When Brady appealed his suspension, Goodell allowed the Management Council to weigh in, urging Goodell to treat the absence of the two equipment employees at the appeal hearing as evidence of Brady’s guilt (although the pair had testified repeatedly in other settings that there was no Deflategate conspiracy). Though Goodell said he rebuffed that recommendation, he clearly knew the verdict that the rival owners wanted – and he gave it to them.

New York Times building in New York City. (Photo from Wikipedia)

In his report denying Brady’s appeal, Goodell also recognized that the only time when the deflation scheme could have worked was the AFC Championship game because it was the only time when McNally had taken the footballs to the field unattended.

But what Goodell ignored was the reason why that happened on that one occasion. It was because the earlier NFC championship game had gone into overtime, forcing a delay in the start of the AFC game. When the NFC game ended in sudden-death overtime, there was confusion among the officials for the AFC game and McNally said he took it upon himself to get the footballs down to the field, stopping briefly to relieve himself in the bathroom.

If the NFL was operating without a confirmation bias, this unlikely set of circumstances would have brought a finding of innocence for Brady and the Patriots.

After all, as unlikely as the whole story was – since a tiny reduction in PSI would have almost no benefit for Brady, indeed it would make the footballs slightly slower and thus easier to intercept – the fact that Goodell concluded that the only time the scheme could have been implemented was on the one Sunday when the NFC and AFC championship games are played back-to-back and that it would require the NFC game going into overtime and the sudden-death finish causing unexpected confusion among the officials makes the NFL’s conspiracy findings ludicrous.

Yet, the NFL cited the commissioner’s broad authority to discipline players and teams as the legal basis for suspending Brady and stripping the Patriots of valuable draft picks. The NFL also managed to get the case before a corporate-friendly federal court district in New York, which ultimately sided with the NFL without any serious testing of the quality of the evidence.

An Indelible Stain

Thus, Brady, whose storied career coming from the 199th pick in the draft to becoming arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history, was left bearing the indelible black mark as a cheater, a liar and – because his last testimony was under oath – a perjurer.

To this day, The New York Times treats the Deflategate conspiracy theory as if it’s flat fact and ESPN, which has a lucrative relationship with the NFL, has never assigned any of its investigative units to dissect the actual evidence.

With only a few exceptions, such as Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins, there has been no effort by the mainstream news media to act as a check on the NFL’s abuse of power. ESPN’s investigative show E-60 offered its only skepticism about the scientific evidence last year by running a cute feature about a seventh-grader conducting his own PSI experiment on footballs and finding Brady innocent.

So, the stain on Brady’s reputation remains with many rival fans who hate Brady finding his humiliation amusing. But Brady’s father has spoken up on his son’s behalf, voicing the lingering anger of those close to the 39-year-old quarterback.

“When it happens to your son, it’s a whole different context — or your daughter or any one of your kids,” Tom Brady Sr. told KRON-TV in San Francisco. “I think any parent kind of understands that. They’d rather take slings and arrows in the heart than have their kids take it.

“For what the league did to him and what Roger Goodell constantly lied about is beyond reprehensible as far as I’m concerned.”

With the Patriots back in the Super Bowl this year, Goodell was asked about the awkward scene that might occur if the Patriots were to win and he had to hand the Lombardi Trophy to Brady. Goodell brushed off the question by saying it would be an honor because of Brady’s illustrious career.

Tom Brady Sr. responded by saying, “It should be an honor, because somebody that has Roger Goodell’s ethics doesn’t belong on any stage that Tom Brady is on. … He went on a witch hunt and went in way over his head and had to lie his way out in numerous ways …

“And the reality is that Tommy never got suspended for deflating footballs. He got suspended because the court said that … Roger Goodell could do anything he wanted to do to any player for any reason whatsoever. That’s what happened. The NFL admitted they had no evidence on him.”

But the larger point may be that if a powerful American institution can do something like this to Tom Brady and encounter virtually no check or balance from the U.S. mainstream news media or the court system which one of us can expect better.

And if accountability has been lost in America – replaced by the raw power of those in authority to create their own reality – what can we expect when the next rush to judgment occurs on something even more important than a person’s reputation?

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

35 comments for “‘Deflategate’ Cloud over the Super Bowl

  1. gerry issokson
    February 5, 2017 at 15:50

    The over the top discipline was also attributable to Goodell seizing the story as a way to get out from under the pi l e of negative reaction to his own lying and bungling if the ray rice case

  2. Lee Sterling
    February 3, 2017 at 20:23

    “The measurements were further compromised by the fact that the longer the footballs remained indoors in warmer temperatures the more they naturally re-inflated.”

    I know I’m nit-picking, but I think “re-inflated should be changed to “re-pressurized.”

    Otherwise interesting piece, as always, from Robert Parry.

  3. Kilgore Trout
    February 3, 2017 at 13:39

    Brady was not the victim here. The typical fine for an under-inflated football is something like $25K. You admit what you did, and get a slap on the wrist… end of story. The crime was refusing to cooperate (something all players are required to do as part of the labor agreement — even Tom Brady) and destroying evidence. The League has been very consistent with this. Von Miller, for example, was suspended for two games for smoking weed. As it turned out, he also tampered with his urine test (refusing to cooperate) and was given an additional 4-game suspension. Four games — the same as Brady. The punishment is indeed about the integrity of the game… that justice is blind, and does not bend to the will of “star” players.

    What is bizarre about deflate-gate, is how Brady and the Pats were able to control the media narrative (Robert Perry’s essay is full of the irrelevant facts that circulate among Patriot conspiracy theorists around the web — he even quotes Brady’s dad!), and the extremes to which Brady went in an attempt to protect his “reputation.” Apparently (according to ex-Pats) Brady’s ego is so fragile, that he did not want anyone to know that he preferred soft balls, in fear that it might expose him as “weak” to other QBs around the league.

    The “stain” on Brady’s career is his own doing. Cooperate. Pay the fine. All of the other NFL players have to do this. If you do not like it, become active in the Union, and make sure you have more power in the next collective bargaining agreement, instead of hiring lawyers to whine to the courts while you go golfing with your buddy Trump. The problem is not the league, it is that Brady and the Patriots organization feel they are bigger than the game, and that the rules that apply to everyone else do not apply to them.

    • evelync
      February 5, 2017 at 14:44

      If Brady did prefer soft balls is that unusual? Do all or most quarterbacks have preferences about the footballs?
      Shouldn’t the NFL have some rules on this that would have avoided the whole mess?:
      1. The officials not the teams should be responsible for inflating the balls and handing them out in random order.
      2. There should be a discussion every few years including officials and players about a STANDARD psi that becomes the rule that officials use to inflate those balls.

      Bottom line, this should never have been an issue in the first place.

    • Mark Blumler
      February 7, 2017 at 10:29

      uh, i’m pretty sure Parry debunked the “destroying evidence” charge in his earlier deflategate post. Was there some other respect in which Brady “refused to cooperate”?

  4. John
    February 3, 2017 at 12:32

    The player’s collective bargaining contract allowed Goodell and the other owners to steamroll over Brady or any other player, for any reason, real or imagined. I’m not an attorney, but ultimately the court ruled that the contract trumped
    fair-play. Hon Denny Chen may have tipped his hand when he said that Brady should not have destroyed his phone,
    (implication of guilt) but primarily this was about power and money, not the rule of law in my view.

  5. DB
    February 3, 2017 at 00:29

    The NYT & ESPN had lots of company displaying their ignorance & bias. Here in Pitttsburgh, PA both newspapers PG & Trib misled all of their readers as well. They never did the honest thing either.

    Now they wonder why nobody believes their “reporting” For me fake news started with Deflategate and the ugly stain on the news media remains.

  6. Joe J Tedesky
    February 2, 2017 at 23:53

    Cold Temperatures and Inflated Material

    So one frigid morning this Steeler fan got behind the wheel of his car, and when turning on my engine my cars low tire pressure dash light went on. The diagram showed my tires loss approximately 4# lbs of air pressure, per tire. Later that same day my son in law told me my daughters car was the same way with her air pressure in her cars tires, when that minus weathered morning she first started her chilly ride. My son in law and I deduced that the zero outside air temperature must have contracted the air pressure density, or shrunk the tire forcing the air out of the tire somehow…by reading this you can tell that neither of us are scientist. So, after reading Robert Parry’s article here, I now believe, by my first hand experience that cold air can have a profound effect on inflated air products, footballs, tires, etc.. I’m rooting for you Mr Parry even though your team beat my Steelers.

    Truth and our MSM

    We have had this conversation many times before, about how our news media is now a entertainment show dressed up to be valid information center for us to decide which side of a political or social argument we are on. We know the manipulation factor is in place, for the corporate media moguls to apply on our in mass mindset, yet we seek the truth. We duck below the big brother screen to catch hopefully a quick view of the truth while surfing through the Internet looking for just that right and honest site…oh no it’s fake news! It will go away, just turn off the TV set.

    Our media loves controversy and star scandal. There were many days in our not to long ago past, that Deflategate Tom Brady bumped out such news as Israeli retribution upon the people of Gaza, or massive amounts of weapons aid being given to moderate rebels in Syria with the hopes of unseating a tyrannical dictator such as Assasd is described. Our American media is so far down the hole, that if there ever is to be another Nuremberg war crimes trial, that our MSM will surely need to stand inside the box along side their other fellow war criminals awaiting their sentence.

    If our MSM had never traveled down this road of lies and deceit, then there would probably have never been a reason to discover consortiumnews…more than likely Robert Parry would be on NPR, or CNN, but we are here now…so let’s just hope more people will discover this site, and good luck with your Super Bowl Robert Parry!

  7. John
    February 2, 2017 at 22:55

    Mr.Parry….now, this is your niche of investigative journalism…….Go team Go !!!

    • Stiv
      February 3, 2017 at 00:52

      Pretty pathetic for someone who was once a accomplished investigative journalist. Of course, in the big picture he’s right. Doesn’t take a brain surgeon ( Ben Carson anyone? LOL! ) to figure that one out.

      And I’d read these details long ago. Who cares about the NFL…a brutal game that’s on it’s way out.

      So yea…fuck the NFL

      • evelync
        February 3, 2017 at 15:28

        “Pretty pathetic for someone who was once a accomplished investigative journalist.”

        Au contraire!

        Each of our “revered” presidents, in hindsight, were not up to handling all that power wisely.
        Each one made some dreadful errors.
        Some of these errors were made because of their character flaws: NB: “Your president is not a crook!!!”….. This man killed millions in southeast Asia.

        The root of these errors, sometimes costing hundreds of thousands, even millions of lives, emanates from the flawed characters of these men. Parry is examining the dynamic wherein weak, dishonest, powerful people distort the truth for their own (perceived) gain.

        On a larger scale, e.g. the Iran Contra Scandal, Parry disclosed the same dynamic playing out on the “grand stage”. But it was driven by the same human folly that was at work in deflategate. Powerful, delusional, people, hiding behind a smokescreen to further some financial, ideological ambition.

        Parry points to deflategate as a microcosm of the same dynamic he has been uncovering and warning about for his entire career. And which continues to wreak havoc, create mayhem and leave misery in its wake. Even now, instead of a focus on how to stabilize the political economy of this country we’ve been diverted by excuses as to why Hillary Clinton lost the election, Russia’s the scape goat of choice. It’s bizarre – we’re distracted by fear mongering against a second tier country to justify a wrongheaded foreign policy in order to further some faux narrative and make some people very rich.

        This dynamic is likely, IMO, to go on until we blow ourselves off the face of the earth unless we face some of the hidden truths about our leaders, ourselves and what drives us.
        Take Trump, for example, clearly a man who is in denial over his own vulnerabilities. He desperately wants to be seen as the cat’s meow. He is not the cat’s meow. In order to cover it up, he lies and shoots from the hip. It’s only a few days into his administration and he has already killed an 8 year old American girl in Yemen and apparently dozens of innocent people in a military escapade that went wrong. He wanted to show off using what is called American military might. Disaster.

        The principles of justice, fairness, fair play, fall by the wayside in human affairs because of hubris, selfishness, greed, fear, pressure. Pain and suffering are not far behind.

        And so, “kudos” to Parry for opening the door on this microcosm of what he’s been writing about his entire life. Investigative journalism provides a narrative woven together by uncovered truths. These truths, inevitably lead to the actors on the field – and, for the curious, why they did what they did that went so terribly wrong – what wiser heads predicted could/would go wrong.

        That step may be what’s needed in a democracy, for people to be able to examine what’s going on behind the scenes in their name to start to hold their “leaders” accountable.

  8. David F., N.A.
    February 2, 2017 at 22:24

    since a tiny reduction in PSI would have almost no benefit for Brady, indeed it would make the footballs slightly slower and thus easier to intercept

    Depending upon each individual qb, couldn’t the “benefit” be considered subjective? It may be true that an underinflated ball would fly slower, but wouldn’t this also make it less slippery for some qb’s by allowing them to dig their fingers deeper into a slightly softer ball? This grip might help some qb’s control the ball better which, in turn, might increase their throwing accuracy. So, some qb’s, especially the ones with rifles for arms, might be willing to exchange a little less speed for a little more accuracy.

    I think that Brady just wants to play the game, so, if there was any meddling, then it would have more likely to have come from Belichick (a par for the course thing). Brady has proven to be on the same page as Montana, Elway, Kelly and Marino (but he still couldn’t hold Douglas’, Young’s or Tarkenton’s jock straps).

  9. Dan Huck
    February 2, 2017 at 22:04

    Anyhow, Tom Brady, I apologize for going with the attempted railroading of your career! If the facts regarding the actual air pressure in your team’s balls as well as in your opponents, as well as information regarding the unreliability of the evidence & it’s corruption relative to time inside or outside had been clearly stated anywhere, I think I would have recognized Deflatefake as a pile-on, but who knows.
    As a person who would rather watch talented kids battle it out in a local lot, and not a fan of any pro team, & because you are so talented and successful, I didn’t see you as an underdog at all, but saw the whole affair as a battle of the Titans.
    I’ll root for you & your fellow Patriots this Sunday, and I think you’ll win, but even if you don’t, in this coming Great America you’ll have a chance to think often of how easy it is, much more easy than in this case, for powerful people to ruin and destroy people’s (ten’s or 100’s of 1,000s!) of lives through evil intentions or mistakes of judgement, where the people involved, whether suffering sanctions, subsidized invasions or other aggressions are virtually powerless to resist. Whereas you, thank Heaven, can laugh it off, like water off a duck’s back!

  10. Mike
    February 2, 2017 at 19:51

    Finally the truth of this FARCE of a witch hunt is starting to be heard outside of New England. Tom Brady in reality is probably the most upstanding player in the whole damn league. His father is right: Goodell doesn’t deserve to be on the same stage.

  11. Andy Jones
    February 2, 2017 at 19:41

    Perhaps Brady can sue the NFL for defamation when he retires. I don’t know what the statute of limitations is in the US but since the defamation is ongoing he can get the scientific facts before a court.

  12. b. fearn
    February 2, 2017 at 17:22

    The fact that so many americans took this non- issue seriously says a lot about america. Dollars to doughnuts that the people who think that .5 psi in a football is important are the same people that don’t give a damn about the millions of innocents america has killed in other countries.

    • evelync
      February 2, 2017 at 18:01

      Interesting point about what people pay attention to.

      Also, as Robert Parry points out, there’s a trade off – surely a ball “under inflated by .5 psi won’t travel quite as far or be quite as accurate as one thrown with the same force and same spin?

      If it’s really so important to have an accurate psi, shouldn’t it be handled by a trusted third party who inflates all the balls and then distributes them randomly to both teams?

      And then there’s the Robbie Burns’ observation: “The best laid plans o’ mice and men gang aft aglay”.
      If a quarterback knew exactly how his teams’ 4 downs would proceed during a possession, then maybe he’d know if the ball should be overinflated or under inflated. If he was going to throw long bombs, then maybe? he’d want a fully inflated ball to get a perfect spiral? But if the forward motion was based on rushing then wouldn’t he want it under inflated, so it was easier for the running back to hang onto it when someone tried to rip it out of him?

      But this could all go to hell in a hand basket if the play didn’t proceed as expected.

      Regardless, There was little effort to give Brady the benefit of the doubt when there was considerable doubt – too many “unknowns”; too much uncertainty.
      So the knives and pitchforks came out…..

      My husband told me the reason he likes football better than ballet is that it’s not a story that’s repeated on a predetermined path but it’s an event that unfolds unpredictably and everyone can see what’s happening so everything is laid bare, nothing hidden, no lies.

      I’d say that we are a country filled with paranoia and mistrust. Sadly, in this case, that spread onto the field and spoiled things…….

    • Bill Bodden
      February 2, 2017 at 18:28

      The fact that so many americans took this non- issue seriously says a lot about america.

      I believe the point of this very interesting article is more about the ethical corruption of various parties involved rather than the PSI of the footballs.

  13. David F., N.A.
    February 2, 2017 at 17:08

    Since Brady went to a Republican SOTU, doesn’t this make him guilty by association? But then wasn’t Goodell’s wife a FoxNews anchor? How’s a partisan to decide? …coin toss.

  14. Bill Bodden
    February 2, 2017 at 14:40

    But the larger point may be that if a powerful American institution can do something like this to Tom Brady and encounter virtually no check or balance from the U.S. mainstream news media or the court system which one of us can expect better.

    “[O]ne nation, …, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” If only that were true.

  15. Bill Bodden
    February 2, 2017 at 14:35

    Goodell’s salary of around $35 million is controlled by the Management Council.

    At least, nobody can accuse Goodell of coming cheap.

    How many stadium employees have to get by on the prevailing minimum wage or one only slightly higher?

  16. Britton George
    February 2, 2017 at 14:22
    • Zachary Smith
      February 2, 2017 at 16:43

      Your post reminded me of something I’ve been meaning to do – investigate how well the New England team did at holding on to properly inflated balls during the past season. A google search found a teamrankings site, and one of their pages is titled NFL Team Fumbles per Game. For most of the recent seasons the New England team was among the “best” of the league teams. For the past 2016-2017 season they dropped to #27. It’s really a mystery how that could have happened.

      Another odd thing about those stats was the way Indianapolis was also usually near the top. Could this be a case of “great minds thinking alike?” As I recall, the previous Indianapolis quarterback was one of the fellows involved in getting the rule about who supplies the game balls changed.

      In 2006, Brady and Peyton Manning successfully lobbied the league to let every team provide its own footballs to use on offense. Prior to that, it was always the home team that supplied the footballs, which meant that road team quarterbacks didn’t get to try the footballs out until pregame warmups.

      I’m just about certain it’s a Cosmic Coincidence.

      • Paul Serafin
        February 5, 2017 at 18:31

        What explains the Patriots ranking of number 2 in the league last year, which was the year after the leagues witch hunt? You cannot compare teams from one season to another because players change. The Pats had a rookie punt returner this year who if I remember correctly had 6 fumbles himself while Brady just had the best year for a QB in terms of touchdowns to interceptions rate!

    • Rudy Jubecza
      February 2, 2017 at 22:22

      ESPN is silly!

  17. evelync
    February 2, 2017 at 13:22

    In this very well written, important piece, Mr. Parry, you have demonstrated a serious weakness in the human psyche that can and often does turn into a witch hunt.

    I understand why people didn’t like Brady because for a while I found myself in that boat. Neither Brady nor Belichick are humble or reach out for our approval.

    In Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman”, the fearful, beaten down Willie Loman, desperate and struggling to stay afloat thought it soooo important to be “well liked”. Brady and Belicheck give the appearance that they do not care whether they are well liked or not. And they are both excellent at what they do. Therefore they come across as arrogant. They don’t want or need our permission to succeed.

    Arthur Miller also wrote brilliantly about witch hunts. The Crucible delves into how unscrupulous, weak people use fear and cunning to manipulate others to further their (unconscious?) ambitions. Deflategate was a way to bring them down using the emotions of the mob and was, of course, beneficial to the other, competing owners.
    I believe this because I myself had those feelings against Brady for a while.
    We are not very self aware as human beings…..

    What went on with Brady is disgraceful.
    Roger Goodell is a weak man of low character trying first and foremost to protect himself and his position. He’s a toady for the owners and lacks the character to stand up for what is the right thing to do. He bows to all pressures, no matter which way the wind is blowing.

    Brady is a wonderful quarterback who doesn’t prostrate himself before his fans or their opponents. He is a private person and not sociable. People are jealous of him, I think because things seem so easy for him and he seems to have everything that anyone would want in his life. But football fans, like all fans and all mobs want more. We want our heroes to be humble and to beg for our approval and feed our egos. And the mob likes to take people down to show who’s boss.

    What stands out most for me is how Brady responded to the inquisition. He refused to prostrate himself by making excuses or begging for understanding or crying – tears seem to go a long way to calm the mob. He simply, quietly, said what he was accused of was not true.

    As far as familiarity with the Ideal Gas Law is concerned – don’t most drivers have experience with how their car’s tire pressures vary when the weather turns cold? And if so, aren’t they capable of relating that to how air pressure in an inflated football changes on a cold day? I guess if Betsy De Vos becomes secretary of education we won’t have to worry about the Ideal Gas Law – it will all be up to what her religious authority deems should happen in footballs, tires, and hot air balloons.

    The phenomenon that you are writing about Mr. Parry has caused a huuuuge amount of trouble in human history and your examination of it as an investigative reporter is very welcome!!! Thank you.

    Transparency, full disclosure, leaks, whistleblowers are our only protection against dangerous distortions used for selfish, sometimes unconscious, goals, often related to power and wealth.

    (btw, I know nothing about football – I’m just married to someone who enjoys the game and tries to teach me about what’s going on – although I will never believe, no matter how many times it’s explained to me, that bringing out the chain men isn’t more theatrics!!!!! than precision)

  18. Zachary Smith
    February 2, 2017 at 12:37

    It must be Super Bowl time.

    For some extra reading material I’d invite folks to google the title “Buckley: America hates the Patriots more than ever”

    And now that the Pats are back in the Super Bowl, their opponent, Atlanta, is going to emerge as America’s Team. The Falcons! Nobody has ever, ever, ever cared about the Falcons, except for now, because now they are gearing up for a Super Bowl showdown against America’s Most Hated Team.

    I know some folks who cancelled their annual Super Bowl party because everybody they wanted to cheer for had already lost. But now it’s on again because they’ve adopted themselves a new team which happens to be playing against the Patriots.

    I don’t watch football on the idiot box, and it has now been several years since I was dragged into a college stadium quite against my will to be bored out of my skull for an endless eternity. Yet if you ask me who I’m for, I’ll confess it’s whoever is playing Notre Dame, Alabama, or the New England Patriots. (If Notre Dame is playing Alabama, then GO ALABAMA!)

  19. Herman
    February 2, 2017 at 12:16

    I am a native of Maryland so I compare all quarterbacks with Johnny Unitas. I first took notice of Brady was in the Super Bowl game with the St. Louis Rams. I remember Brady’s cool and precise play in the last two minutes to tie the game which the Patriots won in overtime.

    Forty years earlier I had watched Johnny Unitas perform almost identically in bring the “Baltimore” Colts to tie the New York Giants and win in overtime.

    I remember watching Brady’s performance and remembering what was called the Greatest Game Ever Played and saying my god, he looks like Unitas. Not fast afoot but great pocket presence and always making the correct time saving passes, I never forgot Brady’s performance and, of course, will always remember Johnny U’s.

    Robert Parry, of course you are right and little noted is that Brady did much better in the second half of the game than the first. I remember the gleeful look of my dentist who took to bashing Brady because of the “deflated” footballs. Not a word was spoken after I reminded her about Brady’s second half performance. I think she just assumed that I would share in the piling on of the man so many love to hate.

    • Todd
      February 2, 2017 at 17:52

      Herman, pretty sure it was the Rams who tied up the game in the final minutes … not the Patriots. Adam Vinatieri’s field goal in the closing seconds put the Patriots on top to win the game in regulation.

      • Herman
        February 2, 2017 at 19:38

        Todd, Super Bowl XXXVI, Brady put them in positon with drive that began with1:21 left. Adam Vinateri won the game with a 48 yard field. The score was 20-17. I’m afraid my memories were imperfect, I was looking for an identical performance by Unitas and Brady. Actually, Brady move the team faster but both drives in the last minutes ended with field goals. With Unitas, it was a game tying field goal, with Brady it was a game winning field goal.

  20. February 2, 2017 at 11:48

    Bob, a kudo. This sounds like — and should become — a “case study” of the Harvard Business School variety.

    Your painstaking reconstruction of the real “flat facts” helps immensely to demonstrate the wider implications for our society when powerful institutions and moneyed interests win the day, partly because of a neutered media. Your discrete, self-contained case study just before Super Bowl Sunday — by extension — throws light on how the military-industrial-congressional-media-deep-state complex can work together to deceive us whenever it suits its purpose … as happened just 15 years ago as the American people were being “prepared” for the US-UK unprovoked war of aggression on Iraq.

    For those who think this could not happen again, consider today’s weird, hybrid Hillary-Dems-McCainiacs/Grahamiacs-mainstream-media complex trying to “prepare” Americans for extreme hostility — if not outright war — vis-a-vis Russia.

    Each time you write about the trumped-up (no pun intended) charges against Brady, it becomes clearer to me that you are giving us a short course in journalism. You do your profession proud. Thanks.


    • Britton George
      February 2, 2017 at 14:35

      Deflate was payback for Spygate, where theres smoke theres fire. You can’t get away with both scandals. One eventually bites you in the ass: http://www.espn.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/13533995/split-nfl-new-england-patriots-apart

    • Peter Loeb
      February 3, 2017 at 07:53


      American football is a reletively minor issue, Almost everyone to
      a man or woman is for “the Pats”. There will be a game tonight.
      I will listen (by radio!!!),

      My predictions:

      Some players will be hurt as someone shouts in glee “What a HIT!”

      One team will win.

      There will be another superbowl next year.

      —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

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