Despite all the vitriol and back-and-forth between the New England Patriots and the NFL regarding Deflategate and the Wells Report, Robert Kraft and Roger Goodell were seen chatting it up this week and hugging each other.
So, what’s ultimately going to happen here? Is this whole thing just going to get washed away?
“I don’t think it’s going to get washed away at all,” Sports Illustrated and MMQB NFL insider Peter King said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I think the most logical scenario is that Robert and Jonathan Kraft say to the league – a version of which I believe they’ve already said – (is to) read the Wells Report. You guys don’t have the goods on us. You guys had the goods on us in 2007 and we didn’t squawk. You don’t have the goods this time. The penalty’s a lot more severe. You’ve ruined the reputation of the Golden Boy of the National Football League without incontrovertible evidence – even though basically you don’t need incontrovertible evidence – but you have no smoking gun. So let’s try to work something out that’s fair to both sides.
“Will the league do this?” King continued. “The league has never been inclined to reduce penalties very often. They did reduce the Ben Roethlisberger suspension after the Georgia incident from six to four games. This is something that I have been saying for the last few days. I could see the league saying to the Patriots: ‘You guys drop all of your protests, shut up, don’t say anything else, and we’ll reduce the sanction to Tom Brady to one or two games.’ I could see them doing that. I don’t know that they’re going to do that, but I could see them doing that.”
One must wonder how and why this saga got so big. After all, as Tiki Barber pointed out, the fine for tampering with footballs is $25,000. How did we go from that to a $1 million fine, a four-game suspension for Brady and the loss of multiple draft picks?
“Well, I think it’s because . . . the NFL believes that Tom Brady conspired with one or two of these ball boys to take some air out of the footballs and then hide all evidence of that,” King said. “And again, there is some circumstantial evidence that that is what happened, but there isn’t the proof that happened. Now the $25,000, that’s the minimum. The NFL basically can do whatever it wants if it feels like the integrity of the game has been comprised, which it feels like in this case.
“I think it became a big deal just because of the cloak-and-dagger part of it – the cover-up,” King continued. “(Jim) McNally, instead of using a bathroom in the officials’ locker room, he says he wants to use a bathroom in a public corridor. He goes in there for a minute and 40 seconds, which is time either to use the men’s room and wash your hands, or to put a pin in 13 footballs for four seconds each and then walk out of there. I think the NFL feels that the latter happened and that these two guys and Brady conspired to cover it up.”