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Venkataraman: Three things I think

Apologies for the uninspired column topic — it has been a long week, I’m a bit under the weather and there is just so much going on in the world of sports!

No. 1: I think Roger Goodell is somehow going to win his (sorry, the NFL’s) appeal of the DeflateGate court case, if only to force me to write about this nonsense one more time. According to relevant sources, the three judges assigned to the appeal grilled, marinated and consumed Brady’s attorney, Jeffrey Kessler, during the court session on March 3, with one Judge Chin going so far as to say that the evidence of ball tampering was “compelling, if not overwhelming.”

The DeflateGate case has stretched on for over a year now, and no resolution appears to be in sight. It has stopped being about the specter of deflated footballs on the field and started being about a power struggle off the field.

The NFL spent the past football season quietly measuring football pressures in response to DeflateGate and subsequently refused to release the data in any capacity, which certainly doesn’t make it look good. The Wells Report continues to be one of the most heinously incompetent pieces of writing I have ever ingested. I doubt that it would get even a C in a freshman PWR class, with its lack of evidence and the tenuous threads by which it connects said evidence (for instance, <sarcasm> the ball boys suspected of deflating footballs per Brady’s command texted the word “deflator” sometime in 2014, which clearly means that they deflated the footballs in Jan. 2015, when the AFC Championship Game was held </sarcasm>).

Apparently, the optics of Brady destroying his phone are not lost on the judges, who believe that Brady must have something to hide, forgetting for a second that all evidence on said phone had already been turned over to Ted Wells, and that Wells himself told Brady he didn’t want the phone when offered it.

When Judge Berman issued his ruling siding with Brady, he pretty conclusively stated that he believed Goodell had overstepped his authority as commissioner when suspending Brady for four games for what is disclosed in the NFL rulebooks as an equipment violation and therefore subject to a fine.

The idea that a majority of three federal judges would look past all that and suspend Brady for something he may or may not have done (the evidence is still pretty flimsy) is flabbergasting. If the NFL does win the appeal, Brady is clearly going to appeal, which means this case is probably going to the Supreme Court. Maybe Obama can appoint a Patriots fan to fill the vacancy.

No. 2: I think I should have waited another week to write my Stephen Curry article from last week. When I submitted my column, Steph had just nailed a half-court shot to beat the third-quarter buzzer. He proceeded to up his scoring total to 51 points in the fourth, which would itself have been worthy of writing about.

But then last Saturday’s epic game in OKC happened. For those who missed it, the Thunder were well on their way to victory when the Dubs stormed back, forcing overtime on two clutch free throws from Andre Iguodala (a barely-over 60 percent free throw shooter this year). In overtime, the Thunder jumped out to an early lead before Curry broke his own record for most threes in a single season with 24 games to spare, nailing his 12th three — from just a step inside the Thunder logo at mid-court with under a second left — to win it for the Warriors.

I was at BJ’s when this game took place, and not a single person in the restaurant wasn’t watching the TV. The wild swings in momentum, coupled with the intensity and the passion of the players, lent the proceedings a postseason vibe, which is pretty uncommon for regular season games in February. The real story of this game, however, was undoubtedly Curry, who had hobbled to the locker room with a tweaked ankle before returning to clinch the dramatic victory. Given his otherworldly shooting ability, at some point teams are going to have to start defending him as soon as he steps over the half-court line. He’s shooting better from around half-court than Andre Drummond is from the free throw line.

No. 3: I think that networks should start covering Super Tuesday as a sporting event. ESPN already owns FiveThirtyEight — it would take very little effort to get Nate Silver and his cronies mic-ed up, along with Mel Kiper, Jay Bilas, Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless for comedic effect. Silver could talk about the sabermetrics of polling and predict winners, his FiveThirtyEight friends could talk about the candidates and their various platforms, Kiper/Bilas could rate the candidates on a Big Board and talk about their measurables and Smith and Bayless could talk over each other a lot. You can’t argue with me when I say this would be must-watch TV, especially if candidates deigned to appear on the show. Could you imagine plopping Donald Drumpf — sorry, Drumpf — into this combustible mix? Punches might be thrown. ESPN, please make this happen when the next election cycle rolls around, if our country is not in shambles by then.

 

Tell Vignesh Venkataraman that even if Donald Drumpf doesn’t get elected, the country would still be in shambles with a Patriots fan on the Supreme Court at viggy ‘at’ stanford.edu. 

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