From both media and fans, I’ve been receiving the question: “Did Roger Goodell lie about Tom Brady and Deflategate events?”
When I get a question repeatedly, it is easier to write a more complete answer in a blog post.
Personal note to put this in context. I feel very uncomfortable with the term “lie” and judging people in general. For me, fair commentary about anything–football, business, law, etc–is the sort of commentary that I would feel fine saying to them personally.
More fair, less cowardly.
Let’s walk through the above question and various related questions:
Did Roger Goodell lie about Tom Brady in his arbitration ruling?
After the NFL – Tom Brady Deflategate transcript was not sealed by the judge, it made it easy to compare what was actually said under oath, and how the NFL represented to the world what was said.
Clearly, Roger Goodell did not write the actual arbitration ruling himself. He would likely not do that even if he were a lawyer-commissioner because that wouldn’t be a good use of his time.
Arbitration rulings of this sort are crafted by lawyers with the intention of helping defend future litigation. They typically try to show that they considered all the evidence fairly, rejected some of it for whatever reasons, and then rule a particular way.
Roger Goodell signed it. So, that would suggest that he at least read it and endorsed its contents.
There are any number of commentators who believe that the NFL and Roger Goodell were ___words used to suggest less than truthful___.
Dan Wetzel from Yahoo Sports:
Roger Goodell’s manipulation of Tom Brady’s testimony leaves NFL on slippery slope
Wetzel: Goodell’s Egregious Mischaracterization Of Brady’s Testimony Worse Than Any Deflated Footballs
Dan Steinberg – D.C. Sports Bog/The Washington Post:
Roger Goodell misled me on Tom Brady. I won’t trust him again.
Doug Nyed – NESN:
Roger Goodell Made Tom Brady Seem Dishonest In Deflategate Appeal Ruling
(I leave these things here as a time capsule of sorts. I’m sure there’s more stuff but, you get my point here).
The genteel, lawyerly way “lie” is usually said is, “misstates facts.” Or as Ted Wells might say in the Wells Report, in my judgment “lacking candor,” or “not credible.”
These lawyerly words are often used to avoid saying “lie” because it is hard to judge what is in someone’s heart. And various defamation things. (We will revisit defamation sorts of things later).
One reason why the judge wants to get the NFL and NFLPA to talk settlement in person is to get the lawyers more out of it. Lawyers act as weapons and buffers and shields and often serve as the blame point when settlement is going on. Sometimes they are actually to blame. Then the parties can play the ego-filled, face-saving “Hey, this is not me, this was the lawyers” game without saying it that plainly.
Getting the lawyers out of the room makes the parties get more real.
One thing for an arbitration ruling to say more probable-than-not-legalblurghy-stuff-not-credible. It’s another to get together in a room. And for one man to tell another man in essence they are liars to their face.
Not hiding behind legal standards, and burdens, and inferences, and bought scientific-sounding endeavors.
Frankly, the fancy pants way of best describing the truthiness level of this entire NFL enteprise is this:
Disingenous: /disənˈjenyo͞oəs/adjective – not candid or sincere, typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does.
Beyond how the arbitration hearing characterized the evidence, here’s the boilerplate fiction that is a crock:
Plain as day.