Daily Special, August 16, 2012
8 Posted on August 16th, 2012 by Himself
Something big is about to happen, and I think I know what it is, and I think I know why.
First, the why: because I’m going to be away again for a couple days. Big things always happen when I’m not around to comment on them, either on Canal Street Chronicles or here at the Club. Always. As in, “without fail.” So this can be yet another test of that principle, one which I fully expect once again to pass.
Now, as to the what: beginning yesterday, Mike Florio has been hammering the case in Ginger Berrigan’s courtroom. First, he explained what he found in the transcript of the proceedings so far. Here’s the money quote, but you should definitely read the whole thing:
Don’t be surprised if [Berrigan] dismisses the defamation lawsuit but overturns the suspensions. Whatever she does, whoever loses will appeal.
Later that day, he explained—in somewhat convoluted and obscure, i.e. legal fashion—why it is that Berrigan ordered the league and the NFLPA both to provide her with a timeline for the union’s request to Goodell to hold off on suspensions last March. Essentially, if Goodell actually hadn’t yet made a determination on the players’ discipline, as he said he had at his March 21 interview with NFL Network and ESPN, then the statements he made at that time may be actionable, and Vilma’s defamation suit can proceed.
Today, Florio expanded on that theme:
Complex litigation often turns on the manner in which a single domino falls. In the bounty cases pending before Judge Helen G. Berrigan in a New Orleans federal court, the NFL could be headed for a bad outcome if she ultimately concludes that there was exaggeration, embellishment, and/or fabrication regarding one specific fact…
I don’t want to take away from Florio’s page views by telling you too much here—he deserves the click-throughs. Yeah, Mike Florio. Our friend Mike. Seriously, to use a different sport’s metaphor, he’s been crushing Goodell’s pitches for months now. Nobody else has come close to Florio’s analysis, because no other reporter is a lawyer by training.
Both the NFL and the NFLPA have until noon on Friday to identify the date the NFLPA requested Goodell to hold off on imposing player discipline, in order for the union to conduct its own probe of the matter. But it’s been reported that, a full week before the press conference, the NFL had informed the NFLPA that there was “no reason” to delay the player suspensions. Then, a week later, it did do so. And later still, in an April 24 interview, Goodell said, regarding player discipline, “I hope to reach those decisions very soon.”
What this means is two things: first, that Goodell hadn’t yet made a determination when he publicly bad-mouthed Jonathan Vilma; and, more importantly, that the NFL lied to a federal judge. I can’t claim any personal experience in such a case, but it’s my guess that’s somewhere on the “things not to do” list, right before “don’t sleep with crocodiles” and right after “don’t blitz Drew Brees.”
Except that (we’re done with the lawsuit stuff now, by the way) it turns out that last might not be true. According to Football Outsider’s Almanac, last year Brees’ yards-per-attempt fell significantly when opposing defenses blitzed.
This is not what we expected. It is not what opposing defensive coordinators expected either, or they would have blitzed more. No quarterback saw fewer “big blitzes” in the NFL than Brees. This is not a new trend either; Brees has been better against four rushers than a blitz for three years running.
You can bet there are a lot of people in the league right now who are paying close attention. I hope Aaron Kromer has that offensive line practicing against a lot of blitzes, because they’ll be coming for Drew this season. When that happens, don’t make the mistake of thinking every team has a bounty on him: it’s just math.
On the Jukebox
Goodness me, could it be that Roger finds himself in dire straits?