The Great Stadium Caper… What Brady Haters and St. Louisans Have In Common

I’ll just start with this meme I saw on social media after Judge Berman slammed Roger Goodell’s pathetic case presented to the federal court in Manhattan.

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This was posted by one of my social media connections, who happens to be a St. Louisan.  Now we Mid Westerners have had beef with New England since 2002.  The Rams lost to the Patriots 20-17 in the Super Bowl.  The world found out later that the Patriots were secretly taping the Rams practices.  (Spygate) Personally, I will never believe that was the determining factor of the game.  Mike Martz’s refusal to give the ball to Marshall Faulk cost the Rams a second Super Bowl.  Martz bought into his ‘genius’ accolades, and had Kurt Warner throwing the ball 44 times leading to 2 interceptions  (Brady only threw 27 times for a conservative 145 yards, 1TD, 0 Int)  Look, Antowain Smith carried the balls more times (18) than Faulk (17).  But giving the ball to the 3 time MVP and 2001 Offensive Player of the Year would have taken the shine off of coach’s ego.

This doesn’t mean the Patriots didn’t cheat.  They cheated so bad the league destroyed the evidence before anyone else could see it.  The Patriots got off with a slap on the hand.  With that reputation St. Louisian’s weren’t the only ones to remember how the league favored The Golden Boy (Brady) and influential owner Bob Kraft.  I say favored because when other issues such as Bountygate came up, The New Orleans Saints were basically given the NFL’s version of the death penalty.  The league suspended the head coach, (1Year) the GM, (8 Games) an assistant coach (6 Games) and gave an indefinite suspension to another assistant coach.  The NFL is an anything but precarious industry.  It’s America’s favorite sport to watch, analyze, and gamble on.  Fantasy football is as fundamental to Americans as Christmas.  For 49 years the league had enjoyed tax-exempt status as a not for profit organization.  It’s 32 owners are billionaires in an exclusive club that money alone can’t buy into.  Their salary for Commissioner Goodell was $45 million last year.  This atmosphere creates a breeding ground for arrogance.  Being a billionaire doesn’t exclude one from being petty.  This is why the other owners we so hell bent on getting Tom Brady to sit for 4 games.  They have grown tired of seeing Kraft, the Taylor Swift of owners, enjoy so much team success, even through sometimes dubious circumstances.

But often pettiness breeds sloppiness.  The league has bungled and lost their last 5 court battles with player discipline because of a total lack of jurisprudence discipline of their own.  This latest debacle with  Deflategate was no different, if not worst.

Was Brady in charge of having balls deflated?  Of course!  No NFL quarterback, especially one of Brady’s caliber not have say about the state of his money maker.  Brady and Peyton Manning led a charge years ago to have more control of ball conditions including ball pressure.  The Patriots said the team did nothing wrong, but fired the equipment managers in charge of balls.  Brady himself refused to turn over cell phone text to Special Investigator Ted Wells relating to communication with said equipment managers. He eventually destroyed said telephone before showing up to federal court.  Initially he said he cooperated fully with the Wells investigation.  In court, not only did he admit that he lied and didn’t fully cooperate, he was willing to take a suspension for not fully cooperating.  And finally, you wonder why the equipment managers, McNally and Yastremski haven’t been on CNN or Good Morning America?  I mean they’re fired, right?  They aren’t under legal obligation to keep silent.  It’s because they are not worried about bills and their next meal.  Think about it.

But no.  That was not good enough for the league.  In spite of the circumstantial evidence of a massive Patriots cover-up, Goodell’s Kangaroo Court didn’t have the smoking deflate needle it needed to secure total victory.  Instead, they orchestrated a system in which defense could not cross examine key league witnesses against Brady, including the man interpreting the official Wells report. Instead of settling for a compromise on the failure to cooperate, and letting public opinion decide whether Brady by definition had reason to not cooperate, namely guilt, they forged ahead into Judge Richard Berman’s dance floor and got served.  And rightfully so. You know why? Because PROCESS MATTERS!  This means we can’t adjudicate issues and decide fates merely on charges, whether true or not, with insufficient evidence.  Berman never said the footballs were not being deflated.  He dismissed the NFL’s PROCESS.  Those of us who believe in the ideas of process understand, even if we believe fully that Brady cheated.  Those of us who are not, care little about the process, only getting what they want out of it.  This describes the meme above.  It’s so illogical and simple minded as often memes are.  First of all, Rose never cheated, he gambled.  Second, he didn’t admit to cheating till over a decade after he was found out.  Third, Brady won because the NFL’s process was wrong, not merely because he denied it.  I liken it to the OJ Simpson trial.  Most Americans believe he’s a murderer.  But we are not supposed to put people in jail because of something we believe.  The LAPD bungled the evidence, lied on the stand, and the DA got beasted by some of the best defense attorney’s in the world.

This brings me to the publicly funded stadium being proposed in St. Louis.  Rams owner Stan Kroenke, wants the citizens of St. Louis to build him a stadium for his team to the tune of half a billion publicly funded dollars.  He claims that unless we build it for him, he will move team to Los Angeles and build his own stadium with his own money.  *Imagine that.  We’ve been here before. We built a domed stadium downtown with the hopes of getting an NFL team after Bill Bidwell moved the Cardinals to Phoenix in 1987.  It was sold as a jobs program and a key to revitalize a decaying downtown.  It worked.  We convinced Georgia Frontiere to bring her team here with a promise of a windfall for personal seat licences, season ticket profits and a sweetheart deal of a lease.  She also gave Kroenke 40% of the team.  Now the majority owner, Kroenke wants to cash in on St. Louis once again.  It’s par for the course and personally I don’t have a problem with it. He’s doing what billionaires do; looking to expand his wealth and power as much as he can he can and using other people’s money to do it.  What is disappointing however, is the many locals who want to give him the desires of his greedy heart without so much as a whimper, critique, or push-back.

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In 2002 the City of St. Louis enacted an ordinance that mandated a public vote for any new stadium funding projects.  The motivation was in large part because of the continuous cost the city is burdened with from the aforementioned dome.  This didn’t mean that residents would not approve new stadium funding.  It merely put the burden on an NFL owner and marketing department to sell it to us; convince us that it makes fiscal sense.  Further, the state law that allows for public funding for stadiums says that the structure has to be adjacent to a convention center.  But instead of having to having to sell this idea, Kroenke is holding a gun to the city’s head threatening to move the club if his demands aren’t met.  Public officials have helped him in his crusade by circumventing the voting process.  They got a judge to defy the voting ordinance, and give an entire new definition the word adjacent.  In other words, though I live 35 miles west of the downtown convention center, a new stadium could be built in my neighborhood and still be considered ‘adjacent.’  Sounds like something Goodell would make up doesn’t it?

Unfortunately many STL football don’t give a damn about the process.  They just want an NFL team in the area regardless of the cost.  It’s a classic buy now, pay later/devil may care attitude.  I expect this from local sports writers and broadcasters.  Having an NFL team equates to job security and supporting the stadium means team favor and access.  But for the general fan, (short for fanatic) to think so little of the process, being willing to bend over for the sake of having NFL status is mystifying.  Their excuses are equally as lame.  They range from downtown revitalization, tax revenue and jobs.  Well, we’ve had the Rams for 20 years.  They got a new stadium initially and if downtown wasn’t revitalized then how will it be by building a new structure?  The tax revenue while good, will not pay for the tax spending on the building itself, just as it hasn’t for the Dome the Rams are playing in now.  The jobs are mostly minimum wage, and seasonal at that.  Truth be told, most Rams season ticket holders, like the baseball Cardinals season ticket holders don’t hang out downtown anyway.  They come to the game and afterwards jam Highway 40 to West County.

I’ve had this debate with several of the Kroenke sycophants.  After these points are made, it all comes down to the fact that they just want a team.  They talk echo Joe Buck’s ridiculous assertions about Cincinnati and Indianapolis passing St. Louis as some sort of Midwest powerhouse.  This is both a sad and pathetic argument.  For one, every city has it’s strengths and weaknesses.  Indy has a football and an NBA franchise, but no baseball team.  St. Louis has the premier baseball franchise in Major League Baseball.  I’ve been to Cincinnati a few times.  No shade, but that city isn’t something to brag about.  It’s actually St. Louis East to me.  Their downtown have similar political, crime and racial issues.  Besides this, what great city makes it’s mark by comparing itself to another?  While I give Buck credit for taking Kroenke to task, he’s still willing to bypass the process and give the Rams cart blanch tax payer welfare.  So what difference does it make? Stan Kroenke is a business man.  He doesn’t owe St. Louis anything.

Lastly, if there is a new stadium, what is supposed to fill the Dome that we are still paying for?  The sycophants talk of  ‘conventions,’ but seriously, there aren’t that many damn conventions and events in the dome now.  It’s huge and expensive.  There just aren’t that many organizations in need of a 50,000 plus seat stadium. Explaining this to the Kroenke sycophants doesn’t register however.  It’s not that they disagree in theory.  It’s just that their ravenous desire to have the Rams here renders them unable to think past the moment.  It’s a mentality that says in effect, “Just give me the pu##y.  Protection?  Naw.  Pregnancy, HIV, hell we’ll deal with that later.  It’s as illogical and inaccurate as the meme above.  Truth be told, I believe the Rams are leaving regardless.  I also believe local and state government know it too.  They want to build the stadium regardless.  The Rams threats is a way to sway the public and get it done.

Middle class Americans can be just as arrogant as billionaire owners.  We claim to be a nation of ideas and democracy.  We brag about it to other countries.  That is unless it serves our own purpose to be oligarchs.

It’s just a damn shame that Judge Berman doesn’t hold court in St. Louis.

 

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Several Reasons Fidel Goodell Has to Go

They say the cover up is always worst than the crime.  Roger Goodell’s malfeasance and subsequent cover up of his handling of the Ray Rice incident puts him square in the middle of the chopping block as NFL commissioner.

1) When the initial video came out of Rice dragging and unconscious Janay Palmer out of a casino elevator, part of his ‘investigation’ was to interview both Ray and Janay in the same room at the same time.  She married Ray so what in the hell did Goodell think she was going to say?  I wonder what Ray Rice told Goodell, as the commissioner made a huge deal of Michael Vick telling the complete truth to him regarding his dog fighting allegations.  Did he admit that he struck her?  Did he lie?  My educated guess he is told the truth.  Rice never said once publicly that he didn’t strike Palmer.  Janay went on national television and claimed she contributed to the left hook that sent her down for the count.  Goodell decided that two games was enough of a suspension.  FAIL

2) When the backlash of the two game suspension hit, the commissioner was M.I.A.  Instead of defending or explaining it himself, he waited days before rolling out NFL Sr. VP Adolpho Birch via a call to ESPN’s Mike & Mike In The Morning Show.  Said Birch, “The discipline that was taken by the NFL is the only discipline that occurred with respect to Mr. Rice in this case. Were he not an NFL player, I don’t know that he would have received punishment from any other source … We believe that the discipline we issued is appropriate — it’s multiple games, and hundreds of thousands of dollars. It doesn’t reflect that we condone the behavior.”   Weeks later during Hall of Fame Weekend, Goodell having no other choice defended himself.  “We have a very firm policy that domestic violence is not acceptable in the NFL, and there are consequences for that.  Obviously, when we are going through the process of evaluating an issue and whether there will be discipline, you look at all of the facts that are available to us.”… “”We have to remain consistent,” he said. “We can’t just make up the discipline. It has to be consistent with other cases, and it was in this matter. … I take into account all of the information before I make a decision on what the discipline will be,”    More outrage ensued and on yet a few weeks later on August 28th, Goodell announced a new policy for stiffer penalties regarding domestic abuse; six games for a first time offense and a lifetime ban for a second.   While some applauded Goodell for changing his stance, I was reticent to do so.  Goodell has never been transparent with the public nor had he ever changed his mind about a policy he’d put in place.  There was something else to this.

Birch NFL VP Adolpho Birch

3) On Monday morning we all found out what the something else was.  TMZ released the video explicitly showing how Janay Palmer ended up on the floor of the elevator.  From the moment I saw that announcement in the wee hours of the morning while watching the aforementioned Mike and Mike show, I said to my wife, “This is why they changed the policy.  They knew this video was going to surface.”  Initially again there is no comment from the NFL to the media.  The Baltimore Ravens did a u-turn cutting ties with Rice altogether terminating his contract.  Soon afterwards, Goodell suspended Rice indefinitely.  Speaking of lack of leadership, how about the Ravens rolling head football coach John Harbaugh out to speak to the media while owner Steve Bisciotti and GM Ozzie Newsome, adamant supporters of Rice and their own sources of what really happened were noticeably missing.  Talk about cowards?  Neither of them have my respect.  But I digress.  The issue now with the commissioner’s office is, 1) Did the league see the video.  2) If not why not.  Goodell claimed that not only had the league not received the video, but that they were rebuffed by the New Jersey State Police.  (NJSP)  It only took minutes for the NJSP to respond that not only was that a lie, but that they were not the ones handling the investigation in the first place.  The NFL issued a follow up statement attempting to wiggle their way out of being previously busted in the first lie.  Goodell appeared on CBS Tuesday evening with the following statements:

On why he made a decision without seeing the tape: “That’s why we asked for it on several occasions. Because when we make a decision we want to have all the information that’s available. And obviously that was the — that when we met with Ray Rice and his representatives, it was ambiguous about what actually happened.”

Let’s examine that statement for a moment.  Basically he’s saying that Ray Rice and his people gave the NFL the runaround and he realized that when they were in his office.  Rice’s lawyer had the tape.  Goodell didn’t press?  So he’s saying he was punked into giving him a minimum suspension of two games.  Does that sound like Fidel Goodell to you?

You can see the rest of that foolishness in the interview, especially in his BS explanation about how TMZ got the video but the NFL offices couldn’t.

But let me tell you something about NFL security.  They are pretty much second to Homeland Security in terms of resources and connections.  Many of their personnel are former FBI, military and other government workers.   There isn’t a player who is drafted who has not had an in-depth background check right on down to the friends they hang with as well as their family interactions.   As an example we can look at former Miami Dolphins executive  Jeff Ireland’s asking then draft prospect Dez Bryant if his mother had been a prostitute.  The NFL can get their hands on any tape or information they choose to.

Ray and Janay Ray and Janay Rice

There may be a few folk who believe Goodell when he says he didn’t see the video.  For him to say that he suspected there was a second video (in a casino no doubt) insults all of our intelligence.  He also said he was made aware of the video from his staff after he got in the office on Monday.  This is the final straw to me.  As I said before, I suspected he not only saw the video, but he new the video was coming out, which is why he changed the policy.  Furthermore, if I’m in my bedroom getting this news from ESPN shortly after 6 am EST. you mean to tell me Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL didn’t receive a call from ANYONE before he got in the office regarding the video’s release?

Now we have word that the NFL had the tape in April.  I mean how incompetent and arrogant can this dude be?  The ass covering operation is an epic fail.  I guess next he will go Ronald Reagan on us and say, “Well apparently we HAD the video in the office, but I didn’t see it.  They kept it from me.”  Maybe the female on the tape who answering the phone will be the NFL’s Oliver North.

4) Roger Goodell’s salary for last year was $44.2 million per year.  Many fans talk about the worth of players and whether they should make the money they make.  The same people don’t even consider a salary like Goodell’s when they pay for tickets, a hot dog and a beer at a game.  This is because most of us can toss a football around so we think we can relate.  The same people cannot fathom owning or running a team.  Like the players, I couldn’t care less about what Goodell makes.  That’s between he and his NFL bosses.  That being said, from his handling of Spy Gate, Bounty Gate, and this latest fiasco, it’s clear that this job is too big for him to handle.  It’s clear though he said he couldn’t ‘make up discipline’ in earlier interviews, he did just that in suspending Rice indefinitely after the second video became public.  He didn’t act because he saw the video, he acted because WE ALL saw the video.

Finally, the NFL had been soft on domestic violence for years.  For the first time there was an incident that got national exposure because of the initial surveillance video.  If the commissioner had done his job and suspended Ray Rice to 8 games, 12 games, or an entire season without pay nothing happening this week would have made a difference to the NFL.  A harsh penalty befitting the first video evidence, people would shown Goodell to be a great leader.  Rice could have had a chance to make amends with his wife, get some help, perhaps become an advocate against domestic violence and appeal to the public for a second chance.  Donte’ Stallworth and Josh Brent killed people driving drunk.  Stallworth played again and Brent will soon play again.  Instead, he handled the investigation like Barney Fife, gave Rice a slap on the wrist knowing Rice knocked Janay unconscious, defended it several times over,  and then once the second video became public re-sentenced Rice to lifetime penalties while acting pompously indignant.  I don’t see how the collective bargaining agreement with the players union would allow a second sentence to slide by.  Think about it, even if Goodell wanted to make some additional show of Rice, what happened to his second plan for first time offenders of 6 games?  He just skipped that.  If Rice doesn’t get back in the league, seeing how all of this fallout is on Goodell in the first place, Rice is in a position for a helluva lawsuit against the NFL… especially since he had been forthright with Goodell in telling him he struck Janay in the first place.  That doesn’t make Rice a hero, its just not his job to punish himself.  The commissioner should have laid the hammer down on Rice that he deserved in the first place.  There is no excuse.  Roger Goodell has failed miserably and there is no CEO of any company that would survive such a salacious scandal brought on by pure arrogance and stupidity.

Where’s Donald Trump when you need him?