Monday, August 31, 2015

Richard Berman. Incompetent or lazy?

Pretty much everybody in the civilized world -- and I use that term loosely -- has been aware of the still on-going Brady v Goodell case, sometimes called Deflategate.

We know the New England Patriots blistered the Indy Colts in the AFC championship game way back in January to the tune of six touchdowns worth in a driving rainstorm. In sportspeak -- it was a blowout.

We also know shortly thereafter a concern was raised as to the possible underinflation of the footballs used by Tom Brady in the first half of that contest. Nevermind his stats were actually better in the second half, when the "error" had been corrected. There were those that pounced. Brady and the Pats had cheated.

Enter Roger Goodell, lord and high master of the NFL, sometimes called the Commissioner. By thunder, he would not tolerate even the slightest perception of hanky-panky going on in his beloved game. So he commissioned one Ted Wells to do a thorough investigation. Six million dollars and two months later, Wells came back with his report. Two hundred pages which, in the end, had come to the earth-shaking conclusion, or non-conclusion, that Brady "was more likely than not to be at least generally aware of some 'wrong-doing'".

Good enough for Roger. He zapped the Patriots with a million dollar fine, took away a couple draft picks, and suspended Brady for the first 4 games of the 2015 season.

To be sure, a million bucks to any NFL owner is chump change, and losing a couple picks isn't the end of the world, especially for a team like the Patriots. Owner Robert Kraft decided to be a league team player and accept the penalties. Initially. But the cheese man would later come to regret it. He had based his decision on the probability Brady's suspension would be reduced, if not totally thrown out upon the appeal that was sure to come. Bad call, Bob.

Brady and the players' union indeed appealed his suspension, but it went right back to the guy that originally imposed it. Denied. In this respect, the players' union is culpable. How dumb did they have to be to sign a collective bargaining agreement that said Roger Goodell could hear and rule on appeals of matters he had already decided on earlier? That's not true arbitration -- it's a kangaroo court. Look for this to change the next time the CBA is negotiated, but it's in play right now.

Having been thwarted by the Commish again, Brady and his minions headed to federal court to seek justice. Enter one Richard M. Berman. Here come da judge. He was faced with quite the dilemma. Though the original Wells report contained no hard incriminating evidence of any wrong-doing by Brady (and their representatives admitted as much under oath), there was and is still the contractual matter of Goodell having been given the authority to decide such matters under the terms of the current CBA. What a mess.

But a lawsuit is a lawsuit. If the two parties can't agree, take it to court and let a judge or jury sort it out. It's their job to do so.

Initially, Berman wanted Brady/Goodell to resolve the matter between themselves. Rather than jump in, he even appointed a mediator to help them hash things out. Didn't work. That was back in July.

On to Plan B. Berman had both sides appear in his courtroom to hear arguments. That was in early August. Didn't work either.

On to Plan C. Bring them together again in the courtroom for another go-around, and even have a long talk "in chambers" with both sides still seeking a compromise. In mid-August. No dice. Then still another hearing just yesterday. Nobody's budging. Both sides are dug in and there will be no plea agreements. One way or the other, it's all or nothing.

But in hindsight, Judge Berman's competence and/or willingness to do his job would seem to be a relevant issue as well.

After all, he's heard the same testimony not once, not twice, but three times, and he STILL hasn't made a decision. Maybe it will come tomorrow, or the next day, or for sure by Friday, says Berman.

Well gee, that would be nice, seeing as how the NFL regular season is on the proverbial doorstep. The Pats still don't know who their starting QB will be and their opponents don't know who to prepare for.

[So here's a suggestion to Judge Richard Berman. Get off thy lazy arse, do thy job you're making big bucks for, and maketh a call.
Translation? Pick one or the other, but give somebody the heater Rickey.
Hell, whatever you say or do will likely be appealed anyway. So what's been the problem for the last couple months? Are you up to this or not?]

Setting his robes on fire would likely be a bit over the top, but somebody at least needs to give this procrastinating clown a judicial hotfoot to get him moving......

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