NFL's response to ball incidents with Vikings, Packers differs from Patriots
Part of the transcript released Tuesday from the Tom Brady appeal hearing included the testimony of Troy Vincent, VP of Football Operations for the NFL. And there are some interesting discrepancies in there with relation to how the league handles various football- and equipment-related controversies.
Without reaching, it feels safe to say the league reacted aggressively in the Patriots issue. The team was given a $1,000,000 fine, lost a first-round draft pick and Tom Brady was suspended four games for being \"generally aware\" of something an equipment manager allegedly did.
This greatly differs from Vincent's testimony with how the league handled issues in Minnesota and Green Bay.
The Vikings sideline ball-warming incident happened in Week 13 in late November when FOX cameras caught sideline attendants warming up footballs with heaters during the game, which was played in 12-degree weather.
The NFL alerted the teams, ceased the action during the game and said Monday the league would remind teams during the week not to alter footballs.
Vincent was asked by NFLPA lawyer Jeffery Kessler about the league's follow up:
Q. Did you start any investigation of any player regarding that incident?
A. There was no need because it was addressed immediately. It was a natural break in the game and our office called the sidelines to ask the question and to make sure that there wasn't any other misconduct.
Vincent also described the Vikings incident as \"a game ball employee that took it upon himself to warm a football.\"
Then there's Vincent's reaction to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers discussing his preference for inflating and how Rodgers likes \"to push the limit\" on inflating the football.
Q. ...you will see that Mr. Rodgers was quoted as saying, \"I like to push the limit to how much air we can put in the football, even go over what they allow you to do and see if the officials take air out of it.\" ... Do you see that?
Q. Did you or anyone in your office conduct any investigation of Mr. Rodgers for making that statement?
A. No, sir.
Q. Would you agree with me that if Mr. Rodgers was pushing the limit of how much air could be in a football, that that would be him at least being generally aware of activities to try to violate the NFL rules regarding pressure for footballs?
A. The way I'm reading, this is a post-game comment and there is no need for us to react or overreact.
This was actually a PRE-game comment made by Rodgers to CBS Sports' Phil Simms, who relayed the quote during the Packers-Patriots broadcast.
Rodgers later said in a radio appearance, while lamenting the rules that keep footballs at a lower inflation, that \"every game [the officials] taking air out of footballs I'm throwing.\"
There is as much actual, concrete evidence against Rodgers attempting to inflate the football as there is against Brady attempting to deflate the ball. (Circumstantial evidence? Totally different situation.)
But Brady and New England are subject to a multi-million investigation over the course of many months, while Rodgers is considered unworthy of a follow up.
The methodology for deciding when to conduct an investigation feels very arbitrary.