And my response is this: The battle is on. And it is glorious.
Some will argue that it’s too little too late for the Patriots to fire this shot now, but I disagree. This is fight is not over, not by a damned sight. The odds are long and the night is dark and full of terrors and all that. But what more can we ask than the Krafts set a legal precedent by being the first plaintiff to file a petition on behalf of the opposing side? As far as anyone can tell, that’s never happened before in the history of jurisprudence. The Pats are 1/32nd of the NFL’s side of this beef, and they’re acting like a double agent, undermining the case from within.
Sure, you can demand they sue the league, but they can’t. Period. It would get thrown out of court and solve nothing. This has a chance to actually work. And for those of us who’ve wanted Mr. Kraft to stop playing well with others and go on the attack, how’s this little nugget grab you?
From the outset of this matter the League’s conduct reflects less a search for the truth than pursuit of a predetermined result and defense of a report which, despite no direct evidence of tampering or Mr. Brady’s involvement, was relied on to impose penalties with no precedent or correlation to the alleged offense. The League’s commitment to the conclusions of the Wells Report on which the penalties were based was so absolute that in Mr. Brady’s appeal one of the chief Paul Weiss investigators and an author of the Report, Mr. [Lorin] Reisner, served as the League’s counsel and examined witnesses. In addition, at the very outset of the investigation the League leaked materially incorrect PSI information and refused to correct it for months, allowing public misperceptions to fester. At the AFC Championship Game itself, and despite having no knowledge of the impact of weather on PSI (as admitted under oath), League personnel were already accusing the Patriots of cheating. …
The Commissioner publicly praised the Wells Report, imposed penalties based on it, and then insisted on hearing and deciding Mr. Brady’s appeal himself despite the authority to appoint an independent person to do so. When evidence at that hearing did not provide support for enhanced findings against Mr. Brady (to go beyond ‘general awareness’ of violations by others), the Commissioner made new findings and changed the basis on which Mr. Brady was being penalized.
Boom. Shots fired! Man down! Call the paramedics!
Isn’t this more or less the case Pats fans, sports law experts, bloggers and other Wall Defenders have been making all along, only in well-written legalese? Not to mention all the other arguments contained within. From the way the league refuses to hand over Ted Wells’ notes, even though they’re not privileged communication but part of an “independent” investigation. Or the way he completely sandbagged Dorito Dink and the Deflator, despite having all their texts and the context they provided him.
The bottom line is this filing shows the Patriots aren’t now and never have been trying to go along and get along. They’re pissed as hell, and are willing to do something no one’s ever done in a court of law to undermine the league’s case, even if it means carpet bombing the commissioner’s right to abuse his absolute power.
Best of all, it means the real leader of the Night’s Watch lives again. Welcome back, Mr. Kraft:
Baseball is in full swing and you can be a part of the action all season long at DraftKings! Play for FREE in the $10K fantasy baseball contest TODAY with your first deposit. Just draft two pitchers and eight position players, stay under the salary cap and outscore the competition to turn your love of baseball into CASH! To draft your team today, CLICK HERE.
THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Rockies at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Marlins at Rays, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Cardinals at Nationals, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA playoffs: Thunder at Warriors, 9 p.m. (TNT)
NHL playoffs: Lightning at Penguins, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
AROUND THE WEB:
— Jets receiver Eric Decker commented earlier this month that the AFC East — which the Patriots have dominated the past decade and a half — is “up for grabs,” and the Jets are “ready to make the run now.”
The cash-strapped Jets have been negotiating with Fitzpatrick for a while but have yet to reach an agreement, despite Fitzpatrick’s optimism that it will happen.
Last week, Decker showed some of his frustration in an interview with Sirius XM NFL Radio, saying he felt like the drawn-out negotiations were some kind of prank.
“We’re waiting for that day. It’s like April Fool’s, wondering when he’s coming back,” Decker joked. “All I have to say is we have to move on without him right now. They’re stuck where they are. It’s a business decision. Where do they want to go with the money? Who’s going to break?
“We have a job to do and that’s to field the best football team with who we have in the locker room right now. I have a lot of respect for Ryan Fitzpatrick, but we don’t have a ton of time left. We’re all getting older.”
Meanwhile, Geno Smith, the likely starter if Fitzpatrick does not return, became annoyed with questions about the unsigned veteran. Speaking to reporters after the team’s second OTA practice Wednesday, Smith made it clear he had no interest discussing Fitzpatrick’s situation.
“That’s up to the front office,” he said. “Why would I speak on that.”
— Bills general manager Doug Whaley backtracked Wednesday, one day after questioning what football does to players’ bodies.
During an interview Tuesday morning on Buffalo radio station WGR 550, Whaley was responding to a question about whether Bills receiver Sammy Watkins is injury-prone, and he replied, “This is the game of football. Injuries are part of it. It’s a violent game that I personally don’t think humans are supposed to play.”
After that quote took off, Whaley issued a statement playing down the issue.
“Clearly I used a poor choice of words in my comment yesterday morning,” the statement read. “As a former player who has the utmost respect and love for the game, the point that I was trying to make is that football is a physical game and injuries are a part of it.”
Added Whaley: “Playing football no doubt is very physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging, and that is all part of what makes the game so compelling to play and watch. The game has more protection for players now than ever, thanks largely to the safety advancements and numerous rule changes made by our league and promoted to all levels of football.
“I believe our game continues to have a bright future and I hope that this statement provides clarity as to the intent of my earlier comment.”
However, with the team playing well in his absence, there are questions about how much he should play. Despite a loss to the Blue Jays on Wednesday, New York is 13-6 in its last 19 games, erasing its worst start in a quarter-century.
The 40-year-old Rodriguez, who homered for Double-A Trenton on Wednesday, was batting .194/.275/.444 with five home runs and 12 RBIs in 20 games when he went on the DL May 4.
“I think it’s been funny the way everyone’s been talking about what’s going to happen,” Rodriguez said Wednesday. “You know, one of the things I’ve learned from playing on a championship team is that depth and options are a great thing for Joe [Girardi]. Joe does a great job of not only communicating with us but also shuffling everybody around. Whoever is hot, plays. That’s pretty good.”
Added Rodriguez: “It’s funny when people talk about what’s going to happen if Alex plays or not. Those are awesome issues. The fact my team is playing so well, guys are swinging the bat well, you just want to go in and contribute when you can.”
ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On May 26, 1987, in the Celtics’ 108-107 victory over the Pistons in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, Larry Bird stole Isiah Thomas’ inbounds pass and fed which player for the game-winning layup with one second remaining?
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Unbelievable, especially to do it at home. These guys have been waiting 25 years for this. . . . It’s pretty sweet.” — Sharks forward Joe Thornton, after San Jose advanced to its first Stanley Cup final in franchise history with a 5-2 victory over the Blues