It seems that virtually everybody has offered his or take in response to the publication of The Wells Report in Context Thursday, written by Daniel Goldberg, an attorney for the New England Patriots, but perhaps the most interesting that I read yesterday was that of former Cleveland Browns general manager Joe Banner.
Banner suggests that the nature of the Patriots’ response—a full-on information dump in the form of a near point-by-point rebuttal of the Ted Wells investigation’s findings—indicates that the organization does not have the intention of pursuing legal recourse in the matter.
In other words, they are currently in the process of throwing haymakers in the hopes of perhaps saving face, or at least presenting the consistent position of maintaining their innocence, whether they believe in their own innocence or not.
Banner reasons that “if they were” planning on pursuing legal action, “they would not have wanted to lay out their arguemant [sic]”. And that is precisely what the document penned by Goldberg is, virtually on a line-by-line scale.
Mind you, this is of no substance to the obviously related by separate matter of Tom Brady’s suspension, which, as of yesterday, he has formally appealed via the NFLPA. While obviously supported by the Patriots, this is a matter involving the player, and not the organization.
Any recourse that the Patriots would hypothetically pursue with regards to their own institutional punishments, namely a fine of $1 million—the most in league history—and the forfeiture of a 2016 first-round draft pick and a 2017 fourth-round draft pick, would come as an alternative process outside of Brady’s arbitration.
It certainly is a very interesting idea that Banner presents, and one that appears to have some credence. After all, there is a good deal of sense to what he says. Presenting the seeming entirety of your defense to the plaintiffs in advance of any type of legal action is objectively terrible and counter-productive practice.
In light of that, then, the repeated public defiance from Patriots president Robert Kraft, Brady, and Brady’s agent, Don Yee, culminating in the coup de grâce that is the data bomb of The Wells Report in Context, seems to be, at its nucleus, a point of pride.
Kraft and his organization is under attack, its reputation badly tarnished, with public perception rapidly escalating, perhaps to new highs of negativity. Assuming that he knows pursuing legal recourse will ultimately accomplish nothing of significant value, it is conceivable that the next-most favored course of action is righteous indignation.
And they have clearly gotten that down to a science, with perhaps my favorite example coming in Kraft’s statement in the wake of the announcement of discipline in which he states that the punishment “far exceeded any reasonable expectation” and “was based completely on circumstantial rather than hard or conclusive evidence”.
The cherry on top? “We recognize our fans’ concerns regarding the NFL’s penalties and share in their disappointment in how this one-sided investigation was handled”. That is some delicious outrage.