TIME NFL

‘Here’s Why Deflategate Is Still Ridiculous’

Four takeaways from the latest Deflategate news

Not-so-great news, football fans: as training camps kick off this week, pressure gauges and needles are still a hot topic. Did you ever think, upon waking up the morning after the AFC championship game in January, a Patriots romp over the Colts, and hearing about New England possibly deflating footballs, that a few months later this silly-sounding scandal would result in the NFL suspending its Super Bowl MVP, best player, and biggest celebrity for a quarter of a season? That NFL commissioner Roger Goodell would hand down the original four-game suspension to Tom Brady back in May, refuse to recuse himself as appellate judge, and uphold his original ruling upon appeal? That the story of the 2015 NFL season now involves injunctions and smashed cell phones and lawsuits?

Seemed ridiculous at the time. But then again, the NFL seems to specialize in off-field rumpuses. Below are four takeaways from the NFL’s decision to uphold Brady’s suspension.

1. The NFL Created This Mess. Fundamentally, the NFL volunteered to make this a scandal. First off, if mucking with air pressure gives a player a competitive advantage—as Goodell’s decision released Tuesday afternoon contends—then why didn’t NFL rules dictate that someone keep a close eye on the game balls before kickoff? (The NFL is correcting the flaw this year, an acknowledgement that the old policy made little sense).

As Ted Wells’ Delfategate report points out, the Colts gave the NFL office a heads-up about their suspicions that the Pats were deflating footballs. So why didn’t the NFL issue the Pats a warning, or more closely watch the Pats ball attendants to prevent them from allegedly cheating in the first place? And third, why did someone, presumably from the NFL camp, leak PSI information—which turned out to be wrong—to the media in the first place, helping propel the scandal in the Super Bowl walkup?

2. Roger Goodell Says Deflation is Like Taking Steroids. To justify the length of the four-game suspension, Goodell likens deflating footballs to inflating your body via steroids, since both presumably offer a competitive advantage. Yes, he went there, comparing shooting yourself up with body-altering substances to letting some air out of a football.

Goodell also notes that, under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, “the first positive test for the use of performance enhancing drugs has resulted in a four-game suspension.” So, Brady’s alleged attempt to cheat should also warrant four games. But where’s the positive test in Brady’s case? Goodell is basing his punishment on circumstantial evidence, but no accepted smoking gun like a positive test. The NFL can punish PED users without a positive test—a so-called non-analytical positive—but this is rarely done. In 2007, New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison admitted to using a banned substance and was hit with a four-game suspension. But Brady is not admitting to anything. Is this a fair standard for the Pats QB?

3. Tom Brady Needs A Better Cell Phone Plan. In his decision, Goodell said Brady destroyed his cell phone right before investigators interviewed him, so they could not look at potentially incriminating texts. This looks ridiculously suspicious, and will help plenty of fans conclude that Brady is guilty. Brady also said that he regularly smashes phones, and this particular destruction just happened to coincide with the date of the Deflategate interview. This stretches credulity. From the beginning, the NFL has said it offered Brady the chance to cherry-pick any correspondence from his phone to hand over investigators. So why destroy it in the first place?

4. Tom Brady Needs A Grip. One of the weakest parts of the Wells report was its incrimination of Brady based on his mere texts, phone conversations, and meetings with ball attendants after Deflategate broke. Brady wouldn’t communicate directly with them after any other game: suddenly, they’re in constant contact. Must be getting their stories straight, right? That conclusion, however, never felt convincing. If you’re in Brady’s shoes, and you’re a superstar whose clean-cut image is taking a beating because you allegedly cheated, you might be talking to ball attendants more than usual just to find out what the heck is going on. However, according to Goodell’s decision, Brady suggested that they were talking about the upcoming Super Bowl. “I think most of the conversations centered around breaking in the balls,” Brady testified.

Brady turned a weak portion of the Wells report into a strength for Goodell. The commissioner could now say that if breaking in the balls was so important, why didn’t Brady conduct such communication during other regular season or playoff games? Sure, the Super Bowl is important. But it seems off that Brady would suddenly be so fanatical about the grip of the football, to the point that he had to huddle with ball attendants pronto.

Neither the NFL nor Brady did themselves huge favors in this whole appeals process. And it doesn’t look like this story is going away. Where’s Week 1 when you need it?

 

TIME Baseball

Mets Pitcher Suspended for a Year After Positive Drug Test

Jenrry Mejia
Mike Stobe—Getty Images Jenrry Mejia #58 of the New York Mets walks off the mound after being pulled in the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City, on September 9, 2014.

He tested positive for Stanozolol and Boldenone

(NEW YORK) — Just back from an 80-game drug suspension, New York Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia has been banned for an additional 162 games following a positive test for Stanozolol and Boldenone.

Mejia was suspended April 11 following a positive test for Stanozolol and said in a statement then “I can honestly say I have no idea how a banned substance ended up in my system.”

He returned July 12 and was 1-0 in seven games, pitching 7 1-3 scoreless innings. Because of the first suspension, he would have been ineligible for the postseason, if the Mets make it that far.

The Mets said in a statement Tuesday they were “extremely disappointed.” New York acquired reliever Tyler Clippard from Oakland on Monday.

TIME Football

Tom Brady Had His Assistant Destroy His Cellphone After Deflategate

The Patriots quarterback had sent and received more than 10,000 text messages on the phone

Tom Brady told his assistant to destroy a cellphone he had used during the Deflategate scandal around the time investigators interviewed him about his involvement, the NFL found.

The details emerged in an NFL decision released Tuesday, in which NFL commissioner Roger Goodell upheld Brady’s four-game suspension for his role in the Patriots’ use of underinflated footballs during the AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts in January.

The report revealed that “on or before March 6 — the very day that he was interviewed by [independent investigator Ted Wells] and his investigative team — Mr. Brady instructed his assistant to destroy the cellphone that he had been using since early November 2014.”

Brady had refused to turn the phone and his emails over during the Deflategate probe, investigators said.

The NFL report found Brady had sent and received more than 10,000 text messages on the phone from November 2014 to March 2015.

Brady said at a recent hearing that he always destroys, or tells his assistant to destroy, his old phones when he gets a new one, according to the report.

TIME Nike

How Nike’s Medieval Ice Pack Helmet Will Cool Athletes’ Skulls

Or, how to be cool without looking cool.

According to Nike, pouring a bottle of water on your head isn’t a good enough way to cool down after finishing a decathlon. The sporting goods company’s solution? A super-cooling piece of headgear, which doesn’t have a price tag yet, but is surely more expensive than a water bottle.

The device fits snugly like a hat on the forehead, head and neck, then drapes over the face with loose mesh. It may make athletes look straight out of a Friday the 13th set, but the cooling effect might be worth the bad photos. The hood is like a head-shaped ice pack, which surrounds the athlete with chilled water.

In a Nike [fortune-stock symbol=”NKE”] press release, Olympic decathlete Ashton Eaton, who is partnering with Nike to create the headgear, explains why he wants to wear a medieval ice pack helmet: “A perfect scenario would be to fell like you’ve just started on every event. There more you do, the more attrition you experience.” For Eaton, cooling off quickly isn’t a matter of comfort: it helps him regenerate between his ten events.

Eaton is testing the prototypes for Nike in the months leading to the 2016 Summer Olympics, according to Wired. Olympic athlete Brianne Theisen-Eaton, who is married to Eaton, will be testing out the hood during her summer training as well.

TIME Football

NFL Upholds Tom Brady’s 4-Game Suspension

The NFL and the New England Patriots' quarterback will head to court over the star's 4-game suspension

(NEW YORK) — Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for his role in using underinflated footballs during the AFC championship game has been upheld by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

The league announced the decision Tuesday, with Goodell saying that the New England quarterback told an assistant to destroy Brady’s cellphone on or just before March 6. Brady met with independent investigator Ted Wells on that day.

“He did so even though he was aware that the investigators had requested access to text messages and other electronic information that had been stored on that phone,” Goodell said in his decision.

“During the four months that the cellphone was in use, Brady had exchanged nearly 10,000 text messages, none of which can now be retrieved from that device.”

Brady acknowledged in his testimony he was aware of investigators’ request for information from the cellphone before he had it destroyed, the appeal decision said.

Wells’ investigation had no subpoena power and Brady was under no legal obligation to cooperate.

The text messages were critical to Wells’ investigation because they could have shown details of Brady’smessages with equipment managers blamed for deflating footballs.

The four-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback was suspended by NFL executive Troy Vincent in May following the Wells report. The Patriots were fined $1 million and docked a pair of draft picks. The team didn’t appeal its penalty, but Brady and his lawyers made their case during a 10-hour appeal hearing on June 23.

The NFL Players Association has previously said it would challenge the decision in court if Brady’s suspension wasn’t erased. The union said Tuesday afternoon it would have a statement later in the day. The Patriots said they had no comment on the decision.

Moments after announcing Goodell’s decision, the league filed action in U.S. District Court in New York against the union, saying the NFL commissioner has the right under the labor agreement to hand out such discipline “for conduct that he determines is detrimental to the integrity of, or public confidence in, the game of professional football.”

Goodell mentioned exactly that in the conclusion of his appeal decision.

“Especially in light of the new evidence introduced at the hearing — evidence demonstrating that he arranged for the destruction of potentially relevant evidence that had been specifically requested by the investigators — my findings and conclusions have not changed in a manner that would benefit Mr. Brady,” Goodell said.

Brady and the Patriots have denied knowingly using deflated footballs in the AFC title game win over Indianapolis. The Patriots went on to beat Seattle in the Super Bowl and Brady was the MVP.

The NFL announced in late January that Wells would head an investigation into New England’s use of underinflated balls against the Colts. More than three months later, the 243-page Wells report was issued, saying it was “more probable than not” that Brady was “at least generally aware” that footballs he used were improperly deflated by team personnel.

Brady appealed and the union asked Goodell to recuse himself from hearing the appeal because he could not be impartial and might be called as a witness. But Goodell said it was his responsibility to oversee the hearing to protect the integrity of the league.

Scientific arguments were a major part of Brady’s defense. Brady’s lawyers tried to shoot down the findings of an independent firm hired to provide scientific analysis of the air pressure inside the footballs used by the Patriots and Colts.

Brady, who turns 38 on Aug. 3, took nearly every snap last season. But he’ll miss the first four games this season unless the case goes to court. Jimmy Garoppolo, a second-round pick in 2014, would replace Brady, the two-time NFL MVP and three-time Super Bowl MVP.

New England hosts Pittsburgh on Sept. 10 to open the regular season. It then goes to Buffalo, hosts Jacksonville, has a bye, and is at Dallas in the last game of Brady’s suspension. Brady would return against, yes, the Colts on Oct. 18 in Indianapolis.

 

TIME Surfing

Watch Surfer Niccolo Porcella Survive One Of the Biggest Wipeouts Ever

"I got annihilated"

Big-wave surfer and all-round adrenaline junkie Niccolo Porcella has survived what some are calling the heaviest wipeout in surfing history.

Footage shot by videographer Tim Pruvost shows 27-year-old Porcella dropping down the face of a seriously big wave in Teahupo’o, southwest Tahiti, before being sucked back up and slammed toward the reef below.

Speaking to Surfing Life magazine, Porcella, who was born in Hawaii but raised in Sardinia, Italy, described how it felt to be hurled over one of the world’s biggest waves and live to tell the tale.

“It was the most violent thing — I got annihilated,” he said. “I was bounced, pinballed on the reef, the whole 9 yd. Just up and over and up and over. It held me under pretty long. My life vest got blown off right away, and then the second wave drilled me — I actually hit the bottom even harder. Hit my back, my knees, and then I got about four more waves on the head after that … washed over the reef.”

Porcella said when he miraculously resurfaced, he spat blood “a couple of times” and incredulously went back out to catch another wave.

“The best day of my life was marrying my wife, but this, for sure, was second best. I’m coming back every year,” he told Surfing Life.

Teahupo’o, also called Chopes, is renowned for having some of the heaviest and most dangerous swells in the world and has attracted big wave surfers since the late 1990s.

Porcella’s wipeout was so gnarly that Pruvost submitted it as an entry in the TAG Heuer Wipeout of the Year category of the 2016 WSL Big Wave Awards.

TIME Baseball

Colorado Rockies Trade Troy Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays for Jose Reyes

Cincinnati Rads v Colorado Rockies
Dustin Bradford—Getty Images Troy Tulowitzki reacts after flying out in the seventh inning of a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Coors Field in Denver on July 25, 2015

The talented but oft-injured Tulowitzki is a five-time All-Star

(DENVER) — Troy Tulowitzki has been traded by the Colorado Rockies to the Toronto Blue Jays for Jose Reyes and three pitching prospects in a stunning swap of star shortstops, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity early Tuesday because the deal had not yet been announced.

In addition to Tulowitzki, the Rockies sent 42-year-old reliever LaTroy Hawkins to the Blue Jays.

Along with Reyes, the Rockies picked up reliever Miguel Castro and two minor league pitchers.

Neither team had confirmed the blockbuster deal. FoxSports.com first reported the sides had agreed to a trade involving Tulowitzki, Reyes and minor leaguers.

The talented but oft-injured Tulowitzki is a five-time All-Star who is hitting .300 with 12 homers and 53 RBIs in 87 games this season.

He was replaced on defense in the bottom of the ninth inning during Colorado’s 9-8 loss to the Cubs in Chicago on Monday night. After the game, the slugger spent at least 30 minutes in manager Walt Weiss’ office at Wrigley Field, but was unavailable to reporters.

The deal gives Toronto another powerful, right-handed bat in a dangerous lineup that includes Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion and Russell Martin. The Blue Jays are tied for second place in the AL East, seven games behind the New York Yankees.

Reyes is batting .285 with four homers, 34 RBIs and 16 steals. He was acquired by Toronto in a November 2012 trade with Miami.

The face of Colorado’s franchise, the 30-year-old Tulowitzki has spent his entire career with the Rockies (42-55) but has been the subject of trade speculation for some time. Still, the Blue Jays seemed an unlikely destination.

Tulowitzki is in the middle of a $118 million, six-year contract that runs through 2020. The deal includes a $15 million team option for 2021 with a $4 million buyout.

Before the game, Weiss was asked if he’s talked to his star shortstop about handling distractions leading up to Friday’s non-waiver trade deadline.

“I’ve talked to these guys as a group about all the distractions that come with the trade deadline,” Weiss said. “Basically, I told them to control what they can control. There are always distractions at this level during this time period.”

The speedy Reyes, a four-time All-Star with the New York Mets, has struggled with injuries throughout his career. In 69 games with the Blue Jays this season, he is hitting .285 with a .322 on-base percentage. He has four home runs, 34 RBIs and 16 stolen bases.

Reyes is signed through 2017 on a $106 million, six-year contract.

The 42-year-old Hawkins is 2-1 with a 3.63 ERA in 24 games.

___

AP Sports Writer Jay Cohen and freelance writer Brian Sandalow in Chicago contributed to this report.

TIME Football

There Is a Female Coach in the NFL for the First Time Ever

Jen Welter will be coaching inside linebackers for the Arizona Cardinals

In a historic move, the Arizona Cardinals have announced that they have hired the first-ever female NFL coach.

According to NFL.com, Jen Welter played rugby at college and then 14 years of professional football in the Women’s Football Alliance. She is currently a member of the Indoor Football League. Welter will complete an internship with the team, coaching inside linebackers during the preseason training camp.

It’s not the first time she’ll be making history in football. At the Indoor Football League, she was the first woman to play in a nonkicking position on an all-male team, NFL.com reports.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, who made the decision to hire Welter, said that gender shouldn’t come into play when it comes to coaching. “If you can make me better, I don’t care if you’re the Green Hornet, man, I’ll listen,” he told NFL.com.

[NFL.com]

TIME

Boston Will Be Better Off Without Olympics

The gamble just wasn't worth it

The people got this one right. Boston’s Olympic bid, which came to an abrupt end on Monday, never attracted high enough approval ratings in Beantown. Both the United States Olympic Committee and Boston’s political leaders realized that moving forward in the face of widespread public opposition to the bid would embarrass everyone long-term. Might as well cut bait now. It was a mess, but at least now it’s over.

Boston joins cities such as Oslo, Stockholm, Lviv, Ukraine and Krakow who have all recently reconsidered Olympic bids — and then dropped them. (These international cities all bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics, which will be awarded on July 31 to either Beijing or Almaty, Kazakhstan). Many people, it seems, have wisened up to basic sports economics: the Olympics are just as likely to produce eye-popping cost overruns as they are canoeing medals.

“There’s a lot of evidence that people are Olympics and World Cup weary,” says Andrew Zimbalist, author of Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting The Olympics and World Cup. The book includes ample academic research showing the gamble, indeed, is a losing one. “Billions of dollars are spent on a giant party, and the public gets nothing back,” says Zimbalist.

Zimbalist studied the Boston bid, and is convinced that both the city and state of Massachusetts are better off without it. “I don’t think it made a lot of economic sense,” Zimbalist says. Other cities will still compete with one another to convince the International Olympic Committee to award them the 2024 Summer Games: Hamburg, Rome, Paris and Budapest have all announced intentions to bid. Toronto, fresh off hosting the Pan American Games, may jump in.

Will another U.S. city emerge to replace Boston by the Sept. 15 bidding deadline? All eyes are now turning to Los Angeles, a city with a built-in advantage: L.A. has hosted the Olympics twice before, in 1932 and 1984. In ’84 Los Angeles did not have to dazzle the International Olympic Committee with a sparking, and expensive, bid book. Tehran dropped out, so L.A. had enormous leverage since the city was essentially bidding against itself. According to Zimbalist’s book, the ’84 Games produced a $215 million surplus (and not coincidentally, landed the organizer of those Games, Peter Ueberroth, on the cover of TIME as 1984 Man of the Year). The city’s existing Olympic infrastructure could defray some of the cost. “It’s not unthinkable that Los Angeles can do it the right way,” says Zimbalist.

Still, predicting the cost of an event that will place almost a decade from now is a very tricky business. If recent history is any guide, Los Angeles should take a pass too. It’s already got plenty going for it. Why bother with such a gamble? If a city like Paris feels the need to go all in, well…Paris sounds nice enough in summer.

 

 

TIME Music

Houston Astros Bump Taylor Swift From Ballpark Concert

Taylor Swift The 1989 World Tour Live In Chicago - Night 2
Daniel Boczarski/LP5—Getty Images Taylor Swift performs during The 1989 Tour at Soldier Field on July 19, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.

The singer was forced to reschedule a gig ahead of a potential postseason clash

Taylor Swift has been forced to reschedule an upcoming Houston concert — and fans have only their local team’s success to blame.

When Swift announced her tour dates for her 1989 album, including an Oct. 13 concert on the Houston Astros’ Minute Maid Park, the team said it reserved the right to move the date if it needed the field for postseason games. Those familiar with the team’s struggles in recent years laughed the clause off as an unlikely scenario.

But the Astros have outperformed expectations this season, and the Houston Chronicle reports Swift’s tour date has been changed so the team can have the field if they need it on Oct. 13. Instead, she will perform “Bad Blood,” “Style” and the rest of her recent hits for Houstonians on Sept. 9, when the Astros will be playing an away game in Oakland.

Ticket holders will automatically get the same seats for the new dates, and if the revised schedule doesn’t work for them, they can shake it off—they’ll get a refund.

[Houston Chronicle]

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