New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is a mere casualty of owner squabbles, because there's nothing like a bunch of billionaires picking a fight that leaves the little guy dealing with the repercussions.
Well, maybe Brady's not a little guy, but he's certainly not the focus of the owners when it comes to DeflateGate penalties.
Per Sirius XM host Chris Russo, who spoke with nine team owners, the 4-game suspension of Brady was a drop in the bucket compared to the $1 million, 2016 1st and 2017 4th round pick levied from team owner Robert Kraft.
"'Do you think we want Goodell to suspend the best player in the league?,'" Russo told WEEI's Kirk Minihane about the owners' justification for pursuing vengeance. "'Its star? For the first four games of the regular season, which includes a game against the Cowboys and the first opening Thursday night game of the year?
"‘We got Kraft. We don't like Kraft. We got him already. We nailed him for a million dollars, and he lost a first-round pick and a fourth-round pick. And we made sure that Kraft did not appeal it because we all bombarded him at the owners' meetings and said ‘Bob, you've got no support here. Do what you have to do. You have no support. Nobody is going to back you up.'"
The Boston Globe reports that the owners didn't even consider reinstating the Patriots draft picks at the meeting, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell rejected Kraft's final plea letter two weeks ago.
I've highlighted how the NFL owners are going through bouts of infighting and have split into two factions- and how Kraft and the Patriots have been on the losing side of multiple disagreements. The owners were sick of the praise Kraft was receiving, and they were sick of how his team was winning year after year after year, and opted to railroad him with a bogus scandal.
When owners like Jerry Jones can call the connections stemming from scientific studies on head injuries and football "absurd", it's no surprise that they can also ignore the Ideal Gas Law and reason to uphold this ludicrous DeflateGate penalty.
And I think we've come to the point where we need to readdress the whole ordeal and realize that Roger Goodell isn't the problem.
It's the owners.
We all acknowledge that Goodell's sole purpose is to absorb the blame that would otherwise be spread over the sport or the owners. He takes the fall for head injuries, for how the league handles domestic violence, and for every other backwards policy that the league promotes.
He is the face of the owners, and is paid handsomely to be a punching bag.
But to pin the entirety of the blame on Goodell- and he deserves some for not having the backbone to stand up to the owners in June after the world recognized that nothing happened to the footballs- only serves to play into the goal of the owners.
They want Goodell to receive all of the blame. That means there's little blame and outrage left for them. The issue with DeflateGate runs deeper than just the flaws in a system that allows Goodell hear and rule the appeal of a penalty he issued himself. It's more than Goodell.
It boils down to the pettiness of owners. Owners that have managed to stay out of the spotlight by deflecting the focus on Goodell. Owners that have hit the Patriots with a lasting penalty because they can't stand the fact that their teams aren't as successful on a consistent basis. Owners that have found a way to get the greatest player in the history of the sport suspended for four games over nothing at all.
It's about Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, and Falcons owner Arthur Blank, and Texans owner Bob McNair, and Eagles owner Jeff Lurie, and Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, and Colts owner Jim Irsay, and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, and 49ers owner John York, and Giants owner John Mara, and all of the other owners that are willing to put their personal vendettas before reason and the integrity of the game.
Roger Goodell deserves blame. But it's time to highlight the people that are really behind the insanity of DeflateGate.
The owners have made this about taking down Kraft, with Brady merely collateral damage- and Patriots fans are forced to deal with the repercussions.