This is too easy, right?
One offseason after the NFL railroaded New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for some elaborate football deflation scheme based on zero facts (and the facts actually pointed towards Brady's innocence) and only circumstantial evidence, the league is now crying foul about the New York Times using circumstantial evidence to paint the NFL has a villainous enterprise on par with the tobacco industry.
The New York Times ran a major front page story showing that the NFL buried evidence of concussions to make "them appear less frequent than they actually were." The Times compared the tactics to those used by the tobacco industry and highlighted connections between the two entities, including the NFL's hiring of former tobacco industry lawyers and that one of the owners of the New York Giants owned a cigarette company.
And who could forget that the NFL hired Exponent, a pay-for-science firm that once served the tobacco industry to argue secondhand smoke doesn't lead to cancer, to concoct an obviously manipulated science experiment to try and prove that the footballs the Patriots used were deflated.
The NFL wants the New York Times to retract the story, making the following statement via POLITICO:
The NFL attorney argued in his letter that the Times piece was based on a "grand total of five pieces of circumstantial evidence, none of which- taken together or individually- comes close to establishing any meaningful 'tie' that reasonably can form the basis of the Times's knowingly false and incendiary charge."
This is wild, right? The NFL used one text from a ball boy during the offseason as their only proof that any ball deflation happened because the nickname "deflator" appeared once over a year of texts. The NFL ignored all of the other texts that showed the Patriots wanted the footballs within the allowed range, but by golly that one text was enough to suspend Tom Brady four games, strip the team of a first and a fourth round draft pick, and fine the owner $1 million.
But now the NFL is trying to claim that circumstantial evidence (and, to be clear, it's not actually circumstantial evidence, but the league is trying to change the terms used in the discussion, and the claims the league is trying to refute were never made by the Times in the first place) isn't enough to validate the Times' article.
In the past two weeks, the NFL has admit for the first time that there is a link between football and CTE, subsequently tried to bury that story as the player association are trying to introduce the admission to court to increase the settlement value, then had multiple owners call the link "absurd", and now the Times is raking the league over hot coals.
Perhaps Roger Goodell would be willing to give up his cell phone to prove that the league hasn't known about head injuries.