Sportress of Blogitude

Some suggest Patriots’ online rebuttal conceivably could be NFL rules violation


As people continue to read, digest and interpret — not to mention attempt to make sense of the occasionally nonsensical components (“Deflator” was a nickname in reference to weight loss?) included therein — the 20,000-word deconstructive diatribe against the Wells Report, some pundits are suggesting that the methods utilized by the New England Patriots conceivably could be a violation of NFL rules.

One of the first to offer up this theory is Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post. He posted a link and excerpt from a specific league rule on Twitter containing language that prohibits teams from publicly criticizing the NFL and/or teams.

Pro Football Talk notes the the full language of Article 9.1(C)(4) and excerpted it as follows: “Teams shall not ‘[p]ublicly criticize any member club or its management, personnel, employees, or coaches and/or any football official employed by the league.'”

Further, Article 9.1(C)(4) also indicates — as again excerpted by PFT — that “[a]ll complaints or criticism in respect to the foregoing shall be made to the Commissioner only and shall not be publicized directly or indirectly.”

The Patriots’ thorough deconstruction of the Wells Report on a website launched this week, appropriately entitled, “The Wells Report in Context,” doesn’t necessarily run afoul of the conditions of the Article referenced, as the team’s criticisms centered around the work performed by Ted Wells, not the NFL, nor one of its employees.

And yet, at this stage of the showdown between the league and the Patriots — especially in light of the announcement that Commissioner Roger Goodell will hear Tom Brady’s appeal of his four-game suspension — the fact that the team arguably is playing relatively fast and loose with league rules conceivably is a risky move.

Either way, the Patriots’ online rebuttal lambasting the Wells report likely should be considered a battle cry in the initial stages of what could evolve into a bitter and protracted legal war.