Deflategate: Don’t Blame Players for Roger Goodell’s Power

Feb 8, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reacts during Super Bowl LI press conference at the Moscone Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 8, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reacts during Super Bowl LI press conference at the Moscone Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Because of Deflategate Tom Brady is suspended again, and people think it’s the NFL players’ fault for giving Roger Goodell and the league too much power in the first place.

With the news of Tom Brady’s four-game suspension being reinstated on Monday, there’s a bizarre idea that’s suddenly exploded, for the second time – the players should have seen this coming, because they gave Roger Goodell absolute power.

No, really.  That’s a real thing that’s actually happening.  Apparently, the players should have known that giving Roger Goodell limitless power would end up with enough suspensions, fines, and sanctions to fill a whole season of 30 For 30, and a lot of them would be over things that may have not even happened.  Kind of like how we all should have known that Batman Vs. Superman was going to be a terrible movie, and then went and paid to watch it in IMAX anyway.

Related Story: LaFell Burns Colts with Deflategate Tweet

Some of the best sportswriters on the planet have lost their damn minds and somehow got to the conclusion that players getting regularly screwed over in league discipline is their own fault.  Observe!

"Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports declared that Monday’s Deflategate verdict “…reasserted, or even increased, the astonishing disciplinary powers of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell – powers the players’ union naively handed him, of course.”  His next conclusion is “Goodell is God and the players have to accept that.  They helped make him that way after all via that last collective-bargaining agreement.”SB Nation’s Louis Bien titled his piece “Tom Brady’s Deflategate suspension was reinstated because that’s what players agreed to”.  Bien also casually notes that “Here, the court admits that Goodell’s unilateral authority is ‘unorthodox’, but given the nature of a CBA it has to assume that all parties mutually granted him that authority.”Business Insider simply finished off their take on the ruling with “We may never know if anybody attempted to deflate footballs.  But this is clear: When it comes to the suspension of Tom Brady, it no longer matters.  The NFL thinks he did, Roger Goodell has the right to punish him for it, and it was the players who gave him that power.”Tom Curran of Comcast Sports Net New England – who’s been firmly on the Patriots’s side since Day 1 of Deflategate, wrote on Monday night that “Like Brady Ruling or Not, the Players Agreed to Goodell’s Power”."

You get the idea.

The players should have seen this coming, because that’s what they signed off on.  It’s their fault they agreed to it.

It takes a lot for anything Deflategate-related to qualify as the most blatantly laughable part of the whole thing, but this idea is pretty close.

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The players of the NFL should have expected that Roger Goodell would be dealing out suspensions with little to no basis in fact?  They should have known that the commissioner of the league would sabotage, and occasionally destroy a player’s career (see: Rice, Raymond) because THE COMMISSIONER misjudged a situation?

Consider this outstanding-yet-devastating piece from Rolling Stone that bangs off a few times Roger Goodell has shot first and aimed later, like:

  • The New Orleans Saints BountyGate scandal, in which most of the “evidence” leaked to the media turned out to be false, or logically impossible.
  • Re-suspending Ray Rice after his casino sucker-punch video made the news, and then lying about Rice telling Goodell the truth about what happened (a judge determined later that it was Rice who told the truth, and Goodell was lying about Rice lying.  Got it?).
  • Calling Adrian Peterson’s “lack of remorse” a new violation under the conduct policy, after being initially punished for child abuse.

One notable instance of Goodell’s YOLO approach to discipline that Rolling Stone doesn’t bring up is Washington and Dallas in 2010.  If you remember, that year had no salary cap due to the expired CBA, so Washington and Dallas set up a lot of their player contracts so their bigger cap hits would be in the year that didn’t have a cap.  Seems logical in hindsight, right?

Nope.  The ‘Boys and ‘Skins both got a combined $46 million in cap space taken away.  For managing their salary cap.  Based on the salary cap.  That didn’t exist.

So, back to the point – the players should have seen this coming?

They should have expected that the commissioner of the league would be so obsessed with fining and suspending players that he wouldn’t let evidence, facts, or precedent stop him – just because the CBA technically gave the commissioner the legal ability to do it?


It seems like forever ago, but was anyone saying stuff like that when NBA commissioner David Stern vetoed the Chris Paul trade to the Lakers because the other owners thought it would make the Lakers unstoppable?

Of course not!  David Stern got mercilessly barbecued by fans and in the media – and rightfully so – for screwing a team over so they wouldn’t dominate the league.

Sound familiar?

The players should have seen this coming, huh?

Maybe if the commissioner had seen the way players would react to getting thrown under the bus for whatever the agenda of the week is, the NFL could have saved a few bucks in lawyer’s fees.