John Dowd, attorney, former special counsel to ex-MLB commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti and author of the Dowd Report that led to Pete Rose’s lifetime ban from baseball, joined the Dale & Holley show Wednesday to give his take on Tom Brady‘s situation. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Dowd read the Wells Report and said he had trouble nailing down what the report itself was saying.

“As they say in the ‘Seinfeld’ show, it’s all about nothing,” Dowd said. “I just could not figure out what it was about, and I read the Wells Report, and I read the subsequent studies that sort of shredded the science in the report, but I couldn’t find anywhere where Tom Brady directed anybody to do anything. So I’ve sort of been troubled watching this thing and how it’s been put together and so I’ve not seen a basis for the punishment of Tom Brady, and I didn’t think the Wells Report was very well done.”

He also said the way the league has thus far handled the issue of Brady destroying his cell phone was an “ambush,” and that the NFL “blindsided” him.

“[Brady] explained, as I understand it, that he couldn’t turn over his phone, but he would do everything else to cooperate and that was apparently acceptable to Wells,” Dowd said. “I mean, Wells noted in his report it was not helpful, but he didn’t charge him or recommend he be charged with failing to cooperate with the commissioner, which can be a big deal. You don’t cooperate with the commissioner in baseball, and you’re going to sit down, you’re not going to play ball, so it’s a very serious charge, which was not made. So Tom went up on appeal and continued to cooperate, continued to try to get the messages. They had already concluded that they had enough so I don’t understand.

“And apparently in some conversation, he described how his assistant handled his phone, and my own theory is that they had taken such a beating on the Wells Report, that it had been shredded by all kinds of experts, that they had to grab something to save face. And as you know, this commissioner has had great difficulty with his disciplinary decisions, and so that’s just my theory. I don’t know if that’s a fact or not, but I do know one thing. It was very unfair to cite that phone and its destruction as evidence of consciousness of guilt or obstruction of justice. He was never charged with that, and fair play and due process require that you receive notice of that and you have a chance to answer that, so that’s what struck me.”

Dowd noted that everything regarding the phone read as though the NFL was just looking to find a way to get to Brady.

“It appears that they were trying very hard to find something adverse to Tom, and because of the weak standard, the weak facts, the lousy science, etc.,” he said. “The other thing, if I were commissioner, or counsel to the commissioner, and given how controversial that Wells Report was, I would make sure the public got an answer and a response about all the science, but it doesn’t look like Goodell looked at that critically at all, and that’s troubling to me.

“The one thing we did in the Rose case was everything we did that was recorded was handed over to the Rose lawyers and to the public, including all of my notes and all my colleagues’ notes. There was nothing that wasn’t put out there, because a lot’s riding on it, particularly the confidence of the public and the fans who are so important to this game.”

Dowd took issue with the fact that the standard for this case is “more probable than not” when his report was based on the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” as well.

“The idea that you would injure someone’s career or affect it in some way, some adverse way based on more probable than not is nonsense,” he said. “I don’t know such a standard in the law or anywhere else so that was very troubling to me.”

He added that as he understands it, “Every team in the league was doing what the Patriots were doing.” Dowd offered that if the league is really this concerned about how footballs are taken care of, it should follow in baseball’s footsteps and have officials be the only ones touching the balls.

Blog Author: 
Judy Cohen
How will the Patriots replace Vince Wilfork? (Elsa/Getty Images)

How will the Patriots replace Vince Wilfork? (Elsa/Getty Images)

As training camp approaches, we’€™€™ll offer a position-by-position breakdown of the 2015 Patriots. We started with the offensive side of the ball and now we’€™ve shifted to defense with the cornerbacks, linebackers and safeties, now we take a look at the defensive line.

Depth chart (regular-season stats via Pro Football Reference): Rob Ninkovich (53 tackles, 8 sacks), Jabaal Sheard (25 tackles, 2 sacks), Chandler Jones (37 tackles, 6 sacks) Dominique Easley (6 tackles, 1 sack), Sealver Siliga (21 tackles, 2.5 sacks), Alan Branch (14 tackles), Jake Bequette, Chris Jones (16 tackles, 3 sacks), Joe Vellano (4 tackles, 1 sack), Zach Moore, Malcom Brown (rookie), Trey Flowers (rookie)

THREE THINGS WE KNOW

1. It’s a different group than a year ago. While they may have lost only one player, it was their leader Vince Wilfork. Without Wilfork it will surely be a different group and they will need someone to step up and take on a leadership role, which will likely be Ninkovich. The team also went out and signed Sheard, who was a free agent after spending last season with the Browns. While they will be without the biggest guy in the middle, the talent is still there to keep up the success.

2. Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones, Jabaal Sheard will be good. The Patriots could have one of the best outside pass rush grouping in the entire league with these three. Ninkovich has had eight sacks in three straight seasons, Jones had six in an injury-plagued 2014 season and Sheard will benefit from having the other two players with him. These three rotating in-and-out will likely create matchup problems for opposing defenses and allow the Patriots to get constant pressure on opposing quarterbacks when they choose.

3. They will need to make more of an impact. Last season the secondary was the group which led the defense and this year it will be the front-seven with the departures of Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Kyle Arrington in the secondary. It will likely be the opposite of things from last year, as this year it will be the front-seven taking some pressure off of the secondary rather than the other way around like last season.

THREE QUESTIONS

1. How will they replace Vince Wilfork? This is the biggest question with this group. While not one player can replace the leader that Wilfork was and have the impact that he had in the locker room, Ninkovich is as close as you can get. A soft-spoken player by nature, but he has the experience and work ethic it takes to be considered a leader. It is also a group of players who will all work together to make up for the loss of Wilfork in the middle, although Branch and Siliga specifically will need to step up and play a bigger role in stopping the run.

2. What kind of impact will Dominique Easley have? After playing in only 11 games last year and starting this season on PUP, it will be interesting to see what kind of impact Easley has. The 2014 first-round pick has plenty of upside, but is still working his way back from his ACL injury he suffered at Florida. At 6-foot-2, 285 pounds, Easley has plenty of potential, but the biggest key for him is staying healthy.

3. How fill Malcom Brown fit in? For the second straight season the Patriots used their first-round pick on a defensive lineman. The Texas product has the potential to make an impact right away if he can learn the system and adjust to the NFL quickly. He could be another guy, if he picks things up quick, to fill Wilfork’s place on the middle of the line. It’s unlikely he steps in and starts right away, but he could potentially see a good number of snaps this season.

By the numbers: 6. The Patriots allowed six rushing touchdowns in 2014, which was the second-fewest in the entire NFL.

Key new player: Sheard. The former Cleveland Brown could make a huge impact in his first season in New England. Provided he can learn the system, he will be a major piece on the Patriots defense when it comes to getting after the opposing quarterback. And with more of an emphasis on the front-seven, Sheard was just the player the team needed to get this offseason.

The skinny: While the biggest thing to monitor is the loss of Wilfork, the unit should be just fine. Ninkovich, Jones, Sheard and Branch will be good players for Brown and Easley to look up to. As has been mentioned, the front-seven will be asked to do more than last year and will be asked to come up big in the red zone once again, as holding teams to field goals instead of touchdowns will go a long way with winning a number of games this year.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

In a lengthy interview with CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, Tom Brady‘s agent Don Yee gave more details into the Deflategate case, specifically Brady

In a lengthy interview with CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, Tom Brady‘s agent Don Yee gave more details into the Deflategate case, specifically Brady’s cell phone.

When it relates to what is next in the case, it seems a federal court battle is on the horizon.

“We’re still trying to digest this decision and determine the best course of action at this point,” Yee said. “The decision is very disappointing. It’s misleading subterfuge, and it actually insults the intelligence of fans and the media. I will give them credit for completely shifting the focus from psi, and they have invented a new shiny object for everybody to look at and be distracted by. Notice how we’re not even talking about psi anymore. The league essentially admits this through this decision and its media leaks — the psi issue is dead and their science is junk.”

Yee said Brady offered to provide detailed records to the NFL from AT&T that indicated where every call and text message were sent, which would have given them access to see if he communicated with Jim McNally and John Jastremski.

“Tom’s phone billing record from this timeframe shows that he never spoke on the phone or texted with [Jim] McNally, ever,” Yee said. “Tom’s phone billing record shows that nearly every communication with Jastremki was already in possession of Wells’ team with exception of three texts between Tom and Jastremski on Feb. 7. Every other communication he ever had with [John] Jastremski in that time period was already in the hands of Wells’ team. They also had any communication between Tom and the equipment manager (Dave) Schoenfeld.”

Yee said Brady got a new phone prior to his meeting with investigator Ted Wells and it is regular practice for him to delete text messages and emails from the phone.

“Given Tom’s public status, to ever lose phone and have texts and emails on there would be significant consequences from a publicity standpoint,” he said.

Brady got a new phone after the Super Bowl — early March to be exact.

“I don’t know why we had access to that one phone, but he normally cycles through phones regularly and upgrades phones, but keeps the same phone account for billing purposes,” Yee said. “Why did Tom happen to cycle through another phone the first week of March? He just got back into the country after celebrating a Super Bowl victory and I believe he wanted a new phone and the iPhone 6 had just come out shortly before that.”

The agent said it wasn’t until Feb. 28 that an associate of Wells’ sent an email request for information from Brady’s phone. They said they didn’t need the actual phone and Yee pointed back to Wells’ conference call with the media where he said he didn’t need Brady’s actual phone. It was then on March 2 Brady’s team told the investigators he would not be turning over his phone or information from it, which meant Wells knew that week Brady would not turning over any copies of texts or anything else on the phone. He said Brady did not decide to destroy his phone as a reaction to having to speak with Wells.

“They knew four days prior to Tom’s interview they weren’t going to get the phone anyway,” Yee said.

Yee was not pleased to hear the NFL had already filed a preemptive lawsuit in New York.

“It is virtually unheard of for party in the position of the NFL in a dispute like this to file a preemptive lawsuit simultaneously with the issuance of the decision,” Yee said. “That demonstrates tremendous weakness. The inference is that they do not believe that their evidence and reason could withstand scrutiny in any jurisdiction in America.”

 

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

The NFL Players Association announced Wednesday that it would file a lawsuit in federal court in Minnesota challenging the four-game suspension commissioner Roger Goodell gave Tom Brady.

The NFL Players Association announced Wednesday that it would file a lawsuit in federal court in Minnesota challenging the four-game suspension commissioner Roger Goodell gave Tom Brady.

The NFL, meanwhile, attempted to beat the union to the punch — and keep the case out of labor-friendly Minnesota — filing its own suit in New York Federal Court asking for the suspension to be upheld.

The NFLPA released a statement after Tuesday’s confirmation of the suspension that read in part:

The fact that the NFL would resort to basing a suspension on a smoke screen of irrelevant text messages instead of admitting that they have all of the phone records they asked for is a new low, even for them, but it does nothing to correct their errors.

The NFLPA will appeal this outrageous decision on behalf of Tom Brady.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar
Judy Battista

Judy Battista

NFL.com’s Judy Battista joined Middays with MFB on Wednesday afternoon to talk about the potential settlement between the NFL and NFLPA along with Tom Brady‘s chances going forward. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Battista wrote in her most recent article that there had been settlement talks between the NFL and NFLPA to try to avoid going to court, but whether they got close to reaching an agreement is another story.

“I don’t know if I would call it a near settlement,” she said. “I don’t know if it got near to ever being accepted but sort of the conversation was perhaps a one-game suspension and then maybe a three or four-game fine, three or four-game check fine, but one of the requests from the union side was that the record be sealed of the appeal and that was interpreted by people who were privy to the conversations as the Brady representatives being concerned about the appearance of the cellphone, the destroyed cellphone.”

Reports came out Tuesday that Brady had destroyed his cellphone prior to talking with Ted Wells, though the quarterback defended his actions Wednesday morning on Facebook. Regardless of the reasoning, Battista said the league certainly will bring the issue up in federal court.

“The union is going to argue about the procedure and that it was flawed and that there’s no precedence for it,” she said. “Obviously the league is going to raise the issue of they don’t believe that the Patriots and Brady cooperated fully with the investigation … because he destroyed a piece of evidence that they has asked for, so there’s no question it’s going to come up. I don’t pretend to get into the mind of a federal judge and how they would look upon that, but that’s something that inevitably is going to come up.”

Battista also stressed that while there is no smoking gun right now pointing to Brady, the NFL doesn’t need one, though the cellphone doesn’t help.

“That’s not the standard of proof that they need, and that’s in the bylaws,” she said. “There’s no smoking gun. There is not going to be a smoking gun ever. It’s just things sort of point to him somehow knowing what was going on, what the two guys were doing to the football and certainly destroying the cellphone looks bad. If nothing else, it just is a bad look.”

One way Brady and the Patriots could go is filing for an injunction, but Battista said that could be relatively risky considering what goes into getting an injunction and how little control the team would have over it.

“The key to an injunction, I’m told by people who know a lot more about this than I ever do, is that you have to prove that you have a pretty good chance of winning the case in court,” she said. “The high bar that they have to reach to get the injunction, I’m not sure, if you’re a Patriots fan, that you necessarily want him to get the injunction, here’s why. You lose control of the calendar a little bit. Now his lawyers will either try to speed this up and get it settled all before the season, or they will try to slow play it and let it extend into the offseason. That’s not entirely in their control though, and so if they don’t have control of the calendar, they run the risk that this whole thing comes up in the middle of the season.

“If the rule goes against him, and any of that suspension is upheld, he would have to serve it whenever that would be and that could conceivably be in the middle of January, which is obviously much worse than serving it in September, from a Patriots perspective. So this is a tricky decision that they have. If they’re going to get the injunction that allows them to play in September, they’ve got to be really, really sure that this is not going to get into court and be settled at some point during the season.”

The NFL has already filed Brady’s case in the New York courts, but the NFLPA doesn’t necessarily want it there. Battista said that while New York is generally more favorable to the league, a place like Minnesota with judge David Doty, who often rules favor of the union, is preferable for Brady.

“It’s all legal maneuvering, which court is this going to be in, and this is just the beginning, because you still don’t know the most important question is, is he going to try to get an injunction to play those first four games,” she said. “Will he be successful getting an injunction, and frankly, if you’re a Patriots fan, do you even want him to get an injunction or do you just want him to serve the four games now so that you don’t run the risk that he has to serve them in December or January.”

Blog Author: 
Judy Cohen

FOXBORO — To Matthew Slater, blood runs thicker than water, and in the case of Deflategate and Tom Brady, the Patriots quarterback is family.

Matthew Slater speaks to reports Wednesday at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Matthew Slater speaks to reports Wednesday at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — To Matthew Slater, blood runs thicker than water, and in the case of Deflategate and Tom Brady, the Patriots quarterback is family.

On Wednesday, the special teams captain made it clear how much he supports the signal-caller he’s known since he was drafted out of UCLA in 2008.

“I think it’s safe to say that Tom is the heartbeat of this team,” Slater said. “He’s been here longer than any player. He set the standard. He’s earned everything he’s accomplished in this league. You respect the way he approaches his craft. With that, you have 89 other guys that try to do the same thing and really try to buy into what we’re doing here. We realize that we have to work hard in order for us to have success. Nobody is going to give us anything. Nobody cares what we did last year. It’s all about taking it year to year and I think Tom is a great example of that.

“All of us in here are part of a family. We come from a family and the guys in this locker room, we feel as those we’re family in there. Good or bad, things happen in life and you stick with your family, no matter what the outcome. I think that’s the way we’re going to approach it.”

Slater also threw his complete support behind the comments from team owner Robert Kraft and appreciated the owner speaking up hours earlier, taking some of the heat off players and coaches.

“Look, Mr. Kraft is the captain of this ship,” Slater said. “He’s the captain of this organization so he speaks for all of us when he speaks. I think he said everything that needed to be said.

“In the meantime, we’re just going to focus on playing football. We’re going to focus on improving ourselves through training camp and take it one day at a time.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price explain why Patriots owner Robert Kraft came out on the offensive Wednesday and hit back at the NFL for upholding Tom Brady‘s four-game suspension.