Most of the time, when we enter into the Top 5 of our countdown of the Most Memorable Patriots Moments of the previous season, it's a cause for celebration. The next season almost here, every play/moment is amazing, and it's smack dab in the middle of summer. However, in light of recent events, and how eerily it coincides with this particular moment, I don't know how well our first foray into 2015's Top 5 is going to sit with everyone.
The problem is that I make these lists in mid-February, just after the previous season ends, and so I have absolutely no idea what's going to happen between the end of one league year and the start of another. And while I can shuffle a few things around on the back end of the countdown depending on how things shake out, once I get into the home stretch I'm more or less locked in. And plus, in spite of the current climate, our Number 5 Most Memorable Patriots Moment of 2015 was pretty sweet - at least at the time.
But first, the list so far:
20. In the span of two weeks, the Patriots make two trades to acquire and .
19. A decision to kick in OT backfires as the Jets beat the Patriots in Week 16.
18. Otherwordly phenom and greatest player of all time J.J. Watt is held completely ineffective as the Patriots secure a playoff spot against the Houston Texans.
17. Chandler Jones and Akiem Hicks team up for a strip sack touchdown against the Tennessee Titans.
16. Stopped in the backfield, LeGarrette Blount sheds tacklers and rumbles for a 17 yard gain against the Houston Texans.
15. Danny Amendola and Tom Brady connect for some trickery against the Philadelphia Eagles.
14. The Patriots continue to kick in Rex Ryan's world with a season sweep of the Buffalo Bills.
13. A pair of James White catch and runs show off some agility, speed, and elusiveness.
12. The Patriots absolutely destroy the Dolphins on Thursday Night Football.
11. Julian Edelman outruns the entire Cowboys D on his way to the end zone.
10. A huge 1st down conversion on 3rd and 17 helps push the Patriots to victory over the New York Jets.
9. Jaime Collins hurtles the entire offensive line to block a PAT against the Indianapolis Colts.
8. Tom Brady reaches the 400 TD mark with a one yard pass to Danny Amendola.
7. Opening night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
6. The Patriots offense comes back in style against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Round.
This moment now falls completely flat in the wake of recent events, and it isn't worth much at the moment, but last year, we were all celebrating.
5. Judge Berman overrules Roger Goodell and Tom Brady is allowed to play.
I won't get into Deflategate too much here; we all know the story inside and out at this point. What started off as "more probable than not" ultimately ended up as "destroyed your phone" as the NFL continuously shifted the goalposts regarding the reason for Tom Brady's suspension. The league claimed that they would be launching an investigation, but what actually happened was that they chose to build a case instead. When you hire a prosecutor, you ask that prosecutor to craft a narrative that makes the defendant look guilty. The defendant, in turn, hires a defense attorney to craft a narrative that makes him/her look innocent. Both sides then present their case to a neutral judge and jury, and a verdict is reached after both sides have presented their arguments. Overall, it's a pretty solid system - not without it's flaws, but it's the best we have at the moment. The Deflategate case, however, was a trial without a defense attorney, and the judge basically went to Wells and asked him to make enough of a case so a guilty verdict could be rendered. I think it's fairly obvious, from Mike Kensil yelling "you're in big f***ing trouble" on the sidelines during the Colts game to the league leaking false information about the PSI in the footballs to their admission under oath that they had no idea what the ideal gas law was, that the NFL assumed guilt right from the getgo and reverse engineered the evidence based on that assumption in order to justify the harshest penalty the league has ever seen.
Tommy B, however, wasn't going down without a fight. He assembled a legal team, and once all 148 pages of The Wells Report started getting dissected (even all the footnotes and fine print), very little of the science held up. Much of the report was based on circumstantial evidence and there was nothing that proved wrongdoing of any kind. However, under Article 46 of the CBA, Roger Goodell hold absolute authority over league discipline, so after Commissioner Goodell handed out the punishment, Appeals Officer Goodell heard Brady's case and upheld it.
The next step was to take it to court. Enter Judge Berman.
After both sides presented their case (and received more than adequate grilling on their respective opinions), Berman ruled that there were major legal deficiencies regarding Brady's suspension, including but not limited to:
- Inadequate notice to Brady regarding his potential discipline and is alleged misconduct
- The refusal to allow Brady to examine one of the two lead league investigators
- The denial of equal access to investigative files
- The denial of access to witness interview transcripts
Resultantly, Roger Goodell had not acted with fundamental fairness when handing out his suspension, and Tommy B was free to play all 16 games of the 2015 season.
What a sweet day that was.
While he wasn't declared innocent (just as he wasn't recently declared guilty), Berman ruled that Goodell had completely botched the investigation and failed to do his job as commissioner, thus overturning the suspension. Unfortunately, the CBA more or less states that completely botching an investigation and failing as a commissioner is extremely subjective, since the commissioner is judge, jury, and executioner, and so the 2nd Circuit ended up reversing the ruling. Tom Brady is once again suspended. However, last year's ruling was about as satisfying as it got, and it officially kicked off the Tommy B Revenge Tour 2015. The tour was eventually called off due to injury...but there was a feeling, for a while at least, that Brady was going to torch the entire league all the way to the Super Bowl and then clock Goodell over the head with the Lombardi Trophy before running into the locker room without giving a single interview.
Oh what could have been.
Things don't always work out the way you want them to - but that was certainly a good day. And while it doesn't mean too much anymore, it was still a top moment of last year, and thus belongs on this list no matter what's going on right now.
We're on to 2016 and the Supreme Court.