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Bill Simmons and Dan Patrick: Goodell Gauging Public Reaction Before Brady Discipline [UPDATE]

Bill Simmons was a guest on the Dan Patrick Show today. Clearly, the Ballghazi report was the topic of conversation. Having had some time to digest everything, Simmons was not in as much of full-on homer mode as yesterday, and, while impugning the NFL for a characteristically haphazard investigation, did not come out in total defense of Tom Brady. Some highlights:

  • Simmons started: “I’m glad you’re bringing on Tony Dungy. That will be a balanced take. All these people whose butts were kicked by the Patriots over the last 15 years, now in the media, coming out and acting hysterically about deflategate — Bill Polian, Tony Dungy, Marshall Faulk.”
  • He thinks Brady should have handled this better in the immediate aftermath. Maybe the balls were at the low end of regulation and there were various, “illegal-but-legal” ways to bring their PSI’s down?  “This shouldn’t be something that haunts him for the next 60 years, but we know how sports works. This is gonna be brought up with him for the rest of his career. And it seems like such a low stakes thing. I wish he had just come out from the beginning — clearly he knew something was going on — I wish he had just been a little more forthright in the first week.”
  • “He just handled it badly,” Simmons said. “And I don’t know how you fix that. Because, as you know, this is a very unforgiving sports culture in 2015. It’s all about extremes. Everything’s either the best or the worst. You’re either the most dishonest person ever, or you’re the best person ever. This is just the way sports is now. This is how we consume it.”
  • Simmons didn’t find the Wells Report to be profoundly convincing in the evidentiary sense, and didn’t blame Brady for not turning over his cell phone, especially in light of the NFL’s habit of leaking everything.

Simmons and Patrick agreed that the NFL is gauging public reaction to the Wells Report in order to determine how they should proceed with discipline. Otherwise, wouldn’t they announce it when the report was released? “They’re basing things off of reaction now, and they never used to do that,” Patrick said. “So the tail wags the dog with the NFL, which is kind of surprising.”

“I’ll go further than you,” Simmons said. “I think it’s pathetic. Roger Goodell has handled so many things so poorly that it’s reached a point now where you have something like this, where it’s taken four months to release the report, and he knew everything that was in it. He knows the results before the report is released to the public, and yet doesn’t have the testicular fortitude to do anything about it until he gauges the public reaction.”

If Goodell is indeed basing punishment based on some of the fire takes I’ve seen (Woody Paige, for example, said Brady should be suspended for an entire season), the announced, pre-inevitable-appeal discipline is going to be of the fire and brimstone variety.

UPDATE: Since this post went up, Simmons and ESPN parted ways. Our site reported that the split had a lot to do with money; multiple other reports (here and here) have cited this interview from yesterday as the tipping point in the fissure.