According to a joint report from ESPN and Outside the Lines, NFL owners heavily pressured league commissioner Roger Goodell to treat Deflategate as a “makeup call” for “the widespread perception that Goodell gave the Patriots a break on Spygate,” back in 2007.
Interviews by ESPN The Magazine and Outside the Lines with more than 90 league officials, owners, team executives and coaches, current and former Patriots coaches, staffers and players, and reviews of previously undisclosed private notes from key meetings, show that Spygate is the centerpiece of a long, secret history between Goodell’s NFL, which declined comment for this story, and Kraft’s Patriots. The diametrically opposed way the inquiries were managed by Goodell — and, more importantly, perceived by his bosses — reveals much about how and why NFL punishment is often dispensed. The widespread perception that Goodell gave the Patriots a break on Spygate, followed by the NFL’s stonewalling of a potential congressional investigation into the matter, shaped owners’ expectations of what needed to be done by 345 Park Ave. on Deflategate.
It was, one owner says, time for “a makeup call.”
Though Judge Richard Berman would overturn Tom Brady’s four game suspension last week on the grounds that Goodell overstepped his authority, many league owners appear to be pleased with the hardline stance the commissioner took. (RELATED: Judge Overturns Brady’s Four Game Suspension)
But to the many owners who saw the Patriots as longtime cheaters, it really didn’t matter that Goodell appeared eager, perhaps overeager, to show the rest of the NFL that he had learned the lessons of Spygate. One team owner acknowledges that for years there was a “jealous … hater” relationship among many owners with Kraft, the residue of Spygate. “It’s not surprising that there’s a makeup call,” one team owner says. Another longtime executive says a number of owners wanted Goodell to “go hard on this one.” …
“Roger did the right thing — at last,” one owner said after Goodell upheld Brady’s punishment. “He looks tough — and that’s good.”
“Pleased,” said another longtime owner.
“About time,” an executive close to another owner said. “Overdue.”
“The world has never seen anyone as good as Roger Goodell as a political maneuverer. If he were in Congress, he’d be majority [leader],” one owner says.
You can read the report in its entirety over at ESPN.