We honestly didn’t expect to be talking about this again so soon. It was just on Monday, when talking about the NFL’s new procedures for football inspections, that we mentioned the fact that Goodell was taking his sweet time in making a decision regarding Tom Brady’s appeal. However, news that has been breaking over the past couple of days suggests that Goodell actually could have decided to uphold the Tom Brady suspension back in June if he had wanted to. Why? Because of a broken cell phone.
In case you missed the Tom Brady suspension updates that have been breaking over the past 24 hours or so, we’re here to fill you in. We’ll walk you through the terrible decision that ultimately sealed his fate, as well as how both Brady and the NFL intend to handle the situation. We’ll also talk a bit about how this news might affect you as a sports bettor when the 2015-2016 NFL season rolls around this September.
He Should’ve Kept His Cell Phone
Before the news broke that the NFL had finally reached a decision on the controversial Tom Brady suspension, there was some question regarding whether or not Brady had destroyed his cell phone. He had refused to turn it in during the Wells investigation, but that didn’t mean that it was destroyed. Besides, Wells was still able to ask other members of the Patriots organization for their cell phones, so it’s not like refusing to turn it in would necessarily have done him any good. If there had been any incriminating evidence on the cell phone such as text messages or other correspondence, then Wells still could have found it by asking the right people.
Unfortunately, while refusing to turn in the cell phone is not necessarily incriminating, destroying the cell phone is another matter. And that’s precisely what happened, and why we say that a decision on the Tom Brady suspension could have been reached back in June. The NFL has reportedly known since June 18 that Tom Brady had destroyed his cell phone on either March 5 or March 6. To be more precise, he had an assistant destroy it, because people with money don’t have to cover up their own evidence. By the way, those dates in March just happen to intersect with the Wells investigation. In other words, it looks likely that his cell phone was indeed destroyed to cover up evidence.
Needless to say, Brady isn’t very happy about his suspension being upheld. He was quoted as saying: “As a member of a union, I was under no obligation to set a new precedent going forward, nor was I made aware at any time during Mr. Wells’s investigation that failing to subject my cell phone to investigation would result in ANY discipline.”
In a lot of ways, this is a sensible argument against the decision reached by the NFL in regard to the Tom Brady suspension. There are certainly some privacy issues to be argued here. And someone like Tom Brady certainly has to struggle in order to maintain privacy. In fact, he has contended that he actually destroys his cell phones every eight months, along with his SIM cards. It does appear that he switches them, having changed cell phones in November of 2014. But since he did not destroy his old phone at that time, his defense that he breaks his phones on a regular basis seems a bit shaky.
Granted, it is technically possible that there is some good reason for Brady not destroying his other phone. Maybe the date on which he destroyed his last cell phone is just a coincidence, and has nothing to do with the investigation. There are some pretty crazy fans out there, so it’s believable that he would not want his SIM cards to be floating around out there when he’s done using them. But in this case, he should have kept the phone. His defense that he should not have been punished for refusing to turn in his phone is defensible. But destroying it was unwise under these circumstances.
He Is Definitely Filing a Lawsuit
Before the Tom Brady suspension was upheld, there had already been rumors that Brady would likely sue the NFL if he did not get his way. One of the major proponents of a lawsuit was presidential candidate Donald Trump, who tweeted that there was “no definitive proof” against Brady and advised the star player to sue the league if they followed through with his suspension. Now, Brady is going to use his federal appeal with the hopes of getting an injunction so that he can continue to play for the team while the case is settled in court.
Fox News wrote last month that, regardless of whether or not the Tom Brady suspension was upheld, he would actually have a pretty good case if he filed a defamation suit. Granted, there are some issues with this. He would have to prove that the NFL was not only wrong about his involvement in the deflation of game balls during the AFC championship, but that they knew they were wrong when they filed their report. This is going to be a little bit more difficult. Whether he has a good case or not, the suit is certainly going to be a source of frustration for the league.
It may, however, be a source of frustration for Brady as well. First of all, it won’t help his reputation much. Second, he might not even get the injunction he’s hoping for. In other words, the Tom Brady suspension decision may be upheld whether he goes to court or not. But then there’s the issue of New England equipment managers John Jastremski and Jim McNally. They’ll have to be involved in Brady’s federal appeal, and some believe that they might throw Brady under the bus in order to save their own hides.
Really, the whole thing seems like it’s just a bad idea. It all goes back to his destroyed cell phone, which contained around ten thousand text messages at the time of its destruction. Not only was it responsible for the decision regarding the Tom Brady suspension to begin with, but it might hurt him in federal court as well. And again, he really can’t believe with any element of certainty that he’s going to get that injunction. Forbes outlines the many problems facing Tom Brady in an article which states that to get the injunction, “he must show that he is likely to be irreparably harmed if he is forced to sit out four games.”
Whether Brady has a chance of winning or not, the NFL isn’t going to take this lying down. They’ve already contacted the Manhattan federal court and requested that they confirm their appeal ruling. This is a pretty smart move, because it would keep Brady from having any chance of getting his injunction. It may seem extreme for them to have moved on this before knowing for sure that Brady would file a federal appeal. On the other hand, the possibility had been reported for months. It’s not like Goodell didn’t know what he was getting into when he upheld the suspension.
He Had Been (Sort of) Willing to Settle
We had stated earlier this week that Brady would not be likely to accept a settlement offer for a reduced suspension, unless the number of games was wholly reduced to zero. But the NFL Players Association had, in fact been speaking to the league on Brady’s behalf. After all, it is the duty of the NFLPA to ensure that players are treated fairly, even if the definition of “fair” does not entail said players getting exactly what they want.
In fact, while news broke on Tuesday that the NFL and Roger Goodell had reached a decision that they would uphold the Tom Brady suspension in light of his broken phone, it had previously been expected that settlement talks would otherwise continue that same afternoon. Of course, news of their decision put an end to that. Even before that, however, many were skeptical that a settlement would ever actually be reached. It had been made very clear by Tom Brady amongst others within the New England Patriots organization that the team (and Brady himself) wanted to play during those first four games. As far as everyone was concerned, that was pretty much the end of any talk regarding a settlement.
Or was it? Now that the Tom Brady suspension decision has been upheld, Brady is telling a different story. Brady is now saying that he had most definitely been willing to settle. In his words: “I authorized the NFLPA to make a settlement offer to the NFL so that we could avoid going to court and put this inconsequential issue behind us as we move forward into this season.” Note that he says he had authorized the NFLPA to make an offer, but there is no statement regarding whether or not he was willing to except any offers made by the league.
This is probably because, as we had originally suspected, he really wasn’t willing to accept their settlement offers. To be more precise, he was not going to accept their offer if it involved any type of suspension whatsoever. In other words, Brady’s above statement does not indicate that he made a plea for the matter to be resolved as quickly as possible. Instead, it indicates an ultimatum. The NFL could either give him the settlement offer that he was willing to make, or he would take them to court.
It is not known what type of settlement was offered by the NFLPA on Brady’s behalf. What is known, however, is that the NFL did not give much of a response. There is a solid chance that Goodell already knew by that time how he was going to handle the situation. With other team owners pressuring Goodell to drop the hammer and uphold their decision vis-à-vis the Tom Brady suspension, it might have been unwise to accept the type of settlement that Brady was willing to offer. This is pure conjecture, but it likely involved no suspension and a fine that Brady could easily afford. That’s not what the league or other teams wanted to see. They wanted to see an act of contrition. Instead, they’ll be seeing a legal battle.
This May Affect Sports Bettors
With the Tom Brady suspension upheld, and the possibility that Brady may not get his injunction, sports bettors will likely not be able to factor Brady’s stats into their handicapping efforts when the 2015-2016 season rolls around. Instead, they’ll have to factor in Jimmy Garoppolo, his replacement whose longest stint on the field resulted in three sacks and seventeen attempted passes with only ten completions.
Naturally, this has a lot of Pats fans worried that the team may suffer their first few games as a result of Brady’s absence. But does Garoppolo’s seemingly inferior game experience really mean that he isn’t ready to fill Brady’s shoes? After all, just because he’s failed to deliver in the past does not mean he hasn’t improved. Coach Bill Belichick was asked about Garoppolo’s improvement, and he had this to say: “I think everybody learned a lot in the spring. I think the rookies learned a lot. I think the veterans learned a lot. It’s the start of a season. It’s a preparation for training camp. Now is when we really get to go out there and execute and work on it at a higher tempo and higher level.”
In other words, Belichick said a lot of things that sound pretty good but are ultimately meaningless. Without any knowledge of Garoppolo’s potential improvement, we are forced to go with what we know. SportsLine ran a series of simulations (ten thousand, to be exact) and found that the Pats are still likely to win without Tom Brady. But that likelihood drops by between fourteen and twenty percent for each of the four games affected by the NFL’s decision in the Tom Brady suspension case.
One of the big issues will be whether or not Belichick knows how to use Garoppolo. We won’t bother listing stats, because those are easy enough to find. What’s really important is what types of plays the team runs, and those plays are not the same plays that the Pats would run with Brady. In some ways, this gives the Pats a possible advantage with Garoppolo as quarterback. Unless their opposition has done their homework fairly extensively, they might play the same defense they are accustomed to playing against the Pats. And that might bite them, because New England’s offense will be changed as a result of their new quarterback. Most opposing coaches should be able to key into this fact, but there may be some slip-ups that make it surprisingly beneficial to wager on the Patriots for at least a couple of those first four games.
If you want to go on the numbers rather than the chance that Belichick might use Garoppolo properly, and that Garoppolo might have improved, and that the other teams might not know how to adjust, then you can find Jimmy Garoppolo’s stats here. If you choose to do this, then you should compare them to Tom Brady’s stats, which can be found here. You can also read our guide to handicapping football and our complete beginners guide to sports betting for more information on how such stats should be utilized in making your wagers.
Or, better yet, you can take advantage of our handicapping consulting services so that we can do all of the heavy lifting for you. You have a while to prepare for the beginning of the season in September, so feel free to have a go at our free trial if you’re not sure that handicapping consulting services are the right thing for you. Until then, keep your ear to the ground for more sports and betting-related news.