Peter King, on the two draft picks the NFL took from the Patriots – Based on the weight of the evidence from the past 13 months, and that weight being circumstantial and not convincing, there’s one conclusion I’ve reached entering the 2016 draft season: Roger Goodell needs to give back the picks.
Mike Florio – The NFL should do that, but it won’t. … A 333-game database of evidence could have shown that the Patriots were clearly guilty or (more likely) that the results were inconclusive. The league chose not to do that, for the same reason folks choose not to get on the scale the day after Thanksgiving.
Stephanie Stradley – It is in my immediate personal interest to have the Patriots draft picks taken away because I root for a different AFC team. However, it is in my long term personal interest for the NFL to have logical, sensible, fair processes that do not adversely affect fans. … The Patriots punishment is huge. Two draft picks and a million dollars. After they ‘totally cooperated,’ and there was no evidence of any sort that anyone wanted footballs deflated outside of the ranges prescribed by the rules.
Jemele Hill – They never should have gotten the punishment in the first place. [The NFL] went far and above what they should have done. …. If you can’t even prove they did anything wrong, then why are they fined a million dollars and missing draft picks? For what?
And there you have it. The war drums New Englanders started beating when Roger Goodell’s onerous, draconian punishment was first handed down are beginning to echo around the sports world. Some of the same influential media voices that swallowed the NFL’s line of bull hook, line and sinker have come to their senses. Just as I predicted all those months ago, America is waking up from Deflategate like it was a drunken bender it went on and saying “What the hell was I thinking?” And coming to the realization that the only cure for the hangover is to give the Patriots their draft picks back. Science is winning out over science fiction.
But don’t just listen to me. Or these national media people. Let’s go back to the Patient Zero of the Deflategate virus:
The Wells Report – In particular, we do not believe there was any wrongdoing or knowledge of wrongdoing by Patriots ownership, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick or any other Patriots coach in the matters investigated.
And yet, those draft picks are gone. Now, does this groundswell of reasonable people demanding justice mean those picks will be reinstated? Hell to the no. That would require Goodell to demonstrate a quality he’s never shown before: Integrity. But by no means does that make the cause not worth fighting for. Even in the face of insurmountable odds, a lost cause is still a cause if it’s just. And it’s people who carry on after they’re told they’re wasting their time that change the world. Right makes might and all that.
I suspect in the weeks leading up to the draft we’ll hear from more and more of these right-minded people fighting on the side of the angels, and the pressure on the league will mount. But even if it doesn’t get those picks back, anything that makes every other NFL fan base uncomfortable while galvanizing Patriots fans is a pure good. So keep up the fight. And of course, Defend the Wall.