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Here’s the big problem with the underinflated ball matter. The NFL is happy to have it hanging around believing that it will increase the viewership of the Super Bowl which results in increased revenues down the line for it. In a week when the NFL news usually falls into the doldrums this matter has kept the talk of the Super Bowl match-up very much alive and the smiles on the NFL owners getting ever more wide.
The NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell having had bad happenings this year that reflect badly on his leadership thinks he is cleverly handling this situation. He knows that during his dark days he could count on the support of Bob Kraft an influential NFL owner and recognizes it is pay back time. He put out the standard press release about protecting the integrity of the NFL which also told us that we should not expect a quick answer. That suggests there is an ulterior motive in conducting the investigation because this is really a very simple matter.
Goodell told us he’s hired outside lawyers from a big New York law firm, which anyone who can regularly put his right shoe on his right foot knows is another way of saying don’t expect anything to come of this quickly. Lawyers bill by the hour and by the number of lawyers they can add to the hourly billings so just assembling the legal team should take a fortnight. It’s in the lawyers interest to delay and drag out the matter. If you think that things have changed in the law profession since the days of Jarndyce v Jarndyce then check your shoes.
The NFL responds to the Patriot Underinflated Football Furor (PUFF). This PUFF is not the magic dragon. It is another kind of silly matter. It involves an investigation of an event where the alleged wrongdoing had no effect on its result. Also, where the rule that was violated has no real practical purpose.
What the NFL statement tells us aside from the usual of how thorough its investigation will be as well as giving the Patriots a pat on the back for its cooperation is: (a) there is a rule relative to the inflation; (b) “game officials inspect the footballs . . .and confirm this standard is satisfied, which was done before last Sunday’s game;” (c) other people are on the investigation team; (d) “nearly 40 interviews have been conducted, . . . [of people] with relevant information and expertise;” (e) they are examining other relevant evidence; (f) they will continue doing what they have been doing; and (g) “the evidence thus far supports the conclusion that footballs . . .[used by the Patriots] were under-inflated,” in the first half and properly inflated in second half and at the end of the game. It said its goal was to determined why the balls were underinflated.
In sum the report tells us nothing more than we already knew prior to its release. But the news media tells us that it learned from “sources” that the referee Walt Anderson inspected all 24 Patriot balls “with a pressure gauge supplied by the league, . . . “ We must ask what is the source of it and why should we believe it. Hopefully, there is some visual or solid evidence to support it other than the words of the referee and his team (whose jobs are at risk, and like the gangsters looking for a deal from the federal government, will say anything to protect themselves.) Without firmly establishing this then there will be no way the NFL will be able to come to any conclusion. What gives credence to what they say is that the 12 footballs that were kept behind had the proper amount of air in them.
It seems a little too big to call it a tempest in a teapot. That’s because it involves the NFL which for many is bigger than life. The NFL, like horse manure in the days prior to the automobile, seems ubiquitous at this time of year. So I give the tempest a little more room to play out while keeping the alliteration. But it all amounts to the same thing which is much ado about nothing.
I know I posted a couple a days ago about the sad need of the Patriots to cheat. But as some pointed out to me that maybe I was too quick to a conclusion because the investigation was ongoing and perhaps I was making too much out of the cheating. As time passed I saw the wisdom in their suggestions and accept this for what it is, a grand publicity ploy.
I did write based on media reports that the defensive back Jackson who intercepted the ball immediately noticed it was under inflated and turned it over to the equipment manager to check out. That proved wrong. Jackson denied noticing that was the case.
A reporter at the Boston Globe inflated one ball to 12.5 pounds and another to 10.5; he tested it on others and some in the sports department noticed the difference immediately, others didn’t. That would account for others who handled the ball during the game not to pick up on the difference since it isn’t dramatic.
We can eliminate the weather, game conditions, and other factors as affecting the ball pressure since the other team’s balls used during the same period when tested showed no loss of pressure. What we have then is a situation where the Patriots used a football that did not meet the league rules. Whether deliberate or not this amounts to cheating.
I know I said I would stick to crime and stay away from sports like the NFL so that is the reason I write today. When you represent yourself as doing something according to the rules but you are cheating then you are defrauding the other side. Here we have a clear case of action that may amount to a crime and on top of it a cover-up. Remember Martha Stewart got inside information on some stock and having all the money in the world wanted more so she traded on it which was illegal. They could not prove she actually got the information but they could prove she covered up some of the things she did so she went to the slammer for a bit. Here we have another situation like that.
No one will go to the slammer because it’s an in-house cheat. The Commissioner and the Owner are buddies so it’ll all pass. It’s probably the reason it happened again after the 2007 Spygate matter because even if they break the rules there are no serious consequences.
As Jack Webb would say: “just the facts ma’am.” The Patriots went into the championship game against Indianapolis on a relatively warm and rainy night and used footballs that were inflated to two (2) pounds less than the minimum weight required by the rules. Eleven of the twelve balls checked by the NFL official came back with that measurement.
Now here’s the big problem. Before the game, especially a championship game, the officials check to see that the balls are correctly inflated. The idea is that we have an even field for each team. When the officials checked the balls prior to the match they met the league standards; when they were checked after the game they didn’t. Someone on the Patriots messed with the balls. The Patriots are noted for being an extremely disciplined team. If a player shows up late for practice he is sent home. So no one does nothing, as my friends would say, without the big OK from the top.
I’m reminded by some of my readers that I should stick with the law and criminal stuff and stay away from sports. As you know I predicted the Super Bowl teams (Sea Hawks/Patriots) a while ago and explained why that would happen because nothing else made sense from a financial point of view. However, the truth is I know little more about sports that a below average fan. My expertise lying in the criminal law area perhaps caused me to look at the NFL setup differently than most and there seemed to me every indication that things were preordained to a specific outcome.
Agreeing that I should keep my sports opinions to myself, I’ll get back to the criminal arena. In the two previous posts I wrote about the cruel way some are trying to deprive Mark Wahlberg of a pardon recommendation from the Advisory Board of Pardons (Parole Board). Even if the Parole Board recommends against the pardon the governor can still give one. The governor now in line to do that is Charlie Baker. Whether he does it will tell us a lot about the man.
The right to pardon is granted to the governor by the Massachusetts Constitution. The Massachusetts Supreme Court (SJC) noted that it: “is found in the Constitution of the Commonwealth. Article VIII, Section I, Chapter II of Part the Second provides that “The power of pardoning offences, except such as persons may be convicted of before the senate by an impeachment of the house, shall be in the governor, by and with the advice of council.””
Last Friday I wrote about Mark Wahlberg. I noted how a woman at the Harvard Divinity School, Judith Beals, was given a prominent public platform from which she spewed out half-truths if not outright lies opposing Wahlberg’s request for a pardon. I wondered when writing it what part of the Divine she is associated with. Being from a Catholic tradition myself I grew up with the idea of forgiveness and being pardoned for my sins. She apparently is from the school far removed from those who pray the Lord’s Prayer preferring that Wahlberg go through life with a mark of Cain of as another Hester Prynne never able to erase the folly of his youth.
That is a particularly egregious aspect of her opposition to Walhberg’s request . He did not commit the act as an adult but as one captured in his teenage age years where foolish judgments are common. Abetting his puerile thoughts and behavior was his involvement in illegal drugs like marijuana and cocaine, substances further impairing the ability of a kid to act as a responsible adult.
I mentioned that juvenile misbehavior was treated differently than that of adults. If it is decided a juvenile committed a crime he is not found guilt, he is found delinquent. Traditionally we separate the acts of youngsters from those who are supposedly mature. Ms Beals callously uses Wahlberg’s actions as a 15-year-old to triumph her command that he never be forgiven. Surely, MS Beals has no idea what it is to grow up in gangs and on the streets.
Judith Beals wrote an op-ed in the Boston Globe on January 12, 2015, headlined: “Don’t Pardon Mark Wahlberg.”
Why the Boston Globe decided to publish an op-ed written by her on Mark Wahlberg’s pursuit of a pardon is baffling. She writes: “I prosecuted Mark Wahlberg for his actions 26 years ago when I was an assistant attorney general.” She was admitted to the bar on December 17, 1985. She is now a resident at the Harvard Divinity School. She states she has retired from the practice of law. The end of the article says she “served in the civil rights division under Attorney Generals Jim Shannon and Scott Harshbarger.” I find many problems with accepting her views on Mark Wahlberg’s request for a pardon.
Here’s the first problem I found. The incident occurred on June 15 and 16, 1986. The attorney general at the time was Frank Bellotti. I wondered if she knew that.
Here’s the next problem: if she was involved in the case under Bellotti, her role was pretty much no more than that of a secretary. That was six months after she passed the bar. It was Assistant Attorney Gen. Joan Entmacher, the chief of Bellotti’s Civil Rights Division, who brought the case. Why did Beals exaggerate her role? Aren’t there any checks made on specious claims?
Another problem is neither she nor anyone in the attorney general’s office ever prosecuted Mark Wahlberg for a criminal act. Bellotti filed a civil complaint (not criminal). A civil trial was held on September 4, 1986, after which an injunction issued finding that “15-year-old Dorchester boy” violated the state’s Civil Rights Act. In the Boston Globe article about this they did not name the boy because he was a juvenile. Beals tells us the boy is Wahlberg having little problem disclosing his identity.