Stephen A. Smith
In the wake of the NFL’s upholding of Tom Brady‘s suspension for his involvement in Deflategate, ESPN radio and TV host Stephen A. Smith called in to Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday to talk about the ruling and its fallout. To listen to the interview, go the the D&C audio on demand page.
After a failed appeal of the suspension with the NFL, Brady is prepared to take the league to court in an attempt to get his suspension reduced or eliminated. According to Smith, who cited NFL sources, that isn’t a good idea.
“Somebody from the NFL, connected to the league office, told me yesterday: ‘Let him bring it on. If you get deposed, you give sworn testimony, we can then open the floodgates and ask anything. If he wants to open that Pandora’s box, be our guest. We will be waiting,'” Smith conveyed. “I’m telling you, he needs to drop this or it could potentially get ugly for everybody.”
On Wednesday morning, Brady issued a statement on his Facebook page with defenses and explanations for infractions that he stands accused of by the NFL. According to Smith, Brady’s reasoning was believable, but very predictably so.
“The way Brady sounds makes a lot of sense,” Smith said. “When you have time and you write down an explanation months after the fact and your lawyers and your representation and everybody looks over it, you can come up with a lot of plausible explanations. Or [NFL commissioner] Roger Goodell may very well be wrong. It depends on what side you believe.”
Smith said that the controversy goes well beyond the suspected deflation of footballs and is more an issue of preserving the authority of Goodell.
“The NFL could have resolved this so long ago,” Smith said. “They not only dragged it out, they paid $5 million [to investigator Ted Wells] on top of it, so, clearly, this is not about deflated footballs.
“This is about something significantly more, and one would venture to guess, it’s about the power the NFL wields and sending a message to the Patriots, to Tom Brady and the players association that, ‘You don’t have dominion over us, it is definitely the other way around, and you had better recognize that.’ “
According to Smith, there is a sense within the league that, “We got him. He lied. He tried to cheat and gain an unfair advantage and he got caught.”
Though owner Robert Kraft has been criticized by Patriots fans for relenting in his defense and accepting punishment imposed by the league (a $1 million fine and loss of a first-round draft pick), Smith said that NFL owners have a primary obligation to the league, not to their own franchises.
“As great as Tom Brady is and as much as you love your organization and you own your team, it is your obligation first and foremost to look out for the best interests of the league, and it is not in the best interests of the league if you fight on behalf of your coach and fight on behalf of your quarterback at the expense of the commissioner’s power, which the 32 owners bestowed upon him, because that works against the best interests of the league,” Smith said.