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If you’ve been hoping for closure in the NFL’s Deflate-Gate saga, you are out of luck. Probably way out of luck. Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady is appealing his four-game suspension. The New England Patriots once pledged to accept the findings of attorney Ted Wells’ investigation. But now the team has created a website to challenge in great, even exhausting, detail the Wells Report.
It's not certain that cooler heads will prevail. So we turned to The Wall Street Journal’s exceedingly cool columnist Jason Gay.
BL: Jason, in a column published on Monday, you imagined a scenario where Tom Brady accepts his suspension and spends the month of September relaxing — probably in a hammock outside a classic Maine farmhouse while sipping an Old Fashioned. I assume that you’re disappointed that Brady has lawyered up?
The one thing that we have learned through all of these travails, all of this sort of ham-handed, bureaucratic, management mismanagement, failure to understand societal opinions about things, is that football always figures out a way to win.Jason Gay, WSJ columnist
I know all of New England is ready to march on down to the NFL office and demand to get Tom Brady back for the season opener. But, you know, long view here, Bill: you want to have this guy around for four or five more years in New England, don't they?
BL: Jason, you also wrote “The Patriots vs. the NFL vs. the NFL’s overwrought self-regard is a drama especially depleted in lovable protagonists.” Does anybody in this end up looking good?
JG: Not really, not really. And can we talk about what the Patriots did? Their kind of point-by-point rebuttal of the Wells Report — there was a brilliant excuse in there with regard to what the "deflator" text means. The Patriots are stipulating that "deflator" in these texts refers not to any sort of monkey business with regard to footballing but with regard to weight gain and weight loss — that these gentlemen like to get in the weight room, they sometimes bulk up a little too hard and they like to bring their weight down, thus deflating themselves.
BL: I want to know, if they're going to stand by this deflate-means-weight-loss strategy, why those guys were suspended?
JG: Right, if these guys were simply just trying to lose a few pounds, Bill, which probably we all can, why are they out of a job? Also, Bill, who is the first person to open up a chain of fitness establishments in the greater-New England area called "Deflators." I mean, it's just a million-dollar idea waiting to happen.
BL: Yeah, absolutely. Maybe you and I should just do it after we're finished with this conversation.
JG: That's right:
"Bill and Jason, whatever happened to those guys?"
"Well, you ever heard of Deflators?"
"Oh, my gosh, wow."
"1,500 gyms all around the world."
BL: We learned on Thursday night that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will hear Tom Brady’s appeal himself. Goodell could have chosen somebody else to review the case. Are you surprised that he didn't do that?
JG: No, I'm not surprised. But if we're going to be forced to watch four rounds of the NFL Draft live on TV, if we're going to have regional combines televised, can’t we have this on TV? Can’t NFL Network show this? You know, pre-hearing show? Maybe a musical guest? Get Keith Urban in there, do a song? I think the NFL is leaving a lot of money on the table not optimizing this for network TV.
BL: Jason, the NFL has had many public relations failures in the past year or so. Most of them — all of them — dealt with issues much, much more serious than the air pressure of a football. But Deflate-Gate helped make the Super Bowl one of the most talked about in years. It now has us discussing the NFL in mid-May with no mention of concussions. At some level, isn’t this a master stroke of self-promotion?
JG: The one thing that we have learned through all of these travails, all of this sort of ham-handed, bureaucratic, management mismanagement, failure to understand societal opinions about things, is that football always figures out a way to win. You only have to look at that Brady suspension. He is going to miss four games. That puts him back on the field Oct. 18 in — where Bill? Where are they going to be playing? Indianapolis! The Colts, who yapped to the league office and got this whole thing started.
That is a revenge game. It is as if they script this long in advance. It is just so absurd. And you mention the kind of seriousness that the NFL has been through. There are a lot of reasons to be very agitated with football and the future of football. I think anytime you are able to discuss something like deflated footballs, I think they welcome that kind of conversation. I think they cherish the ability to continue the football talk outside the regular season.
This segment aired on May 16, 2015.
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