Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that’s taken over our lives.
The New England Patriots had tried science to block charges of equipment tampering. That didn’t work.
Their quarterback, Tom Brady, was still suspended for four games. This for allegedly knowing that footballs allegedly were being deflated in an unbecoming manner before the AFC Championship game at the start of the year.
I use all the allegedlys because it doesn’t seem that the NFL has any actual proof. It doesn’t even seem as if the NFL has a consistent, scientifically sound procedure for testing ball pressure. (The accusation was that Brady, preferring a softer ball, persuaded certain people in the Patriots employ to tamper with vetted balls to get them beneath the league-mandated range of 12.5 to 13.5 pounds per square inch.)
Which is why the NFL wanted Brady to hand over his cell phone, so it could look for incriminating messages of one sort or another. This he didn’t do. And then on Tuesday, in upholding his four-game penalty, the league’s dispensers of justice (or “justice,” if you prefer) dropped the bombshell that Brady had even gone so far as to destroy his cell phone, implying that he had covered up important evidence.
On Wednesday morning, Brady struck back in a very modern way: with a Facebook post. His explanation was stunningly familiar.
He wrote: “Look, everyone knows that the iPhone 6 is better than anything Samsung. So I switched from one to the other. All my friends liked me a lot more after that.”
No, I don’t have that quite right. In fact, he explained: “I replaced my broken Samsung phone with a new iPhone 6 AFTER my attorneys made it clear to the NFL that my actual phone device would not be subjected to investigation under ANY circumstances. As a member of a union, I was under no obligation to set a new precedent going forward, nor was I made aware at any time during Mr. Wells investigation, that failing to subject my cell phone to investigation would result in ANY discipline.”
This has become, you see, a labor dispute as much as it is a matter of alleged individual indiscretions.
It surely seems curious that the NFL thought it could demand Brady’s private cell phone when all its investigator, lawyer Ted Wells, could muster was that it was “probable” that Brady was “generally aware” that balls were being deflated. Allegedly. What is it about privacy that the NFL cannot grasp?
The quarterback added in his Facebook post that he’d tried to contact his unnamed cell provider to see if texts could be retrieved. Which seems a curious thing to do if you’re already insisting that you won’t be handing over your phone. It’s also curious that he didn’t actually explain what was so wrong with his Galaxy that he had to change to an iPhone 6.
Still, he wrote: “I have never written, texted, emailed to anybody at anytime, anything related to football air pressure before this issue was raised at the AFC Championship game in January.”
He added one sentence, though, that might ring heartily for many who enjoy aggressive employers — those who might believe that all the employee’s time and property belongs to the organization. Brady said: “I respect the Commissioners authority, but he also has to respect the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) and my rights as a private citizen.”
I translate this as: “The Commissioner is a mendacious donkey. He has no evidence. And my phone is my phone, whether Samsung or iPhone.”
I have contacted the NFL to invite its reaction to Brady’s post and will update, should I hear.
At heart, though, even the Supreme Court believes that your cell phone is private and cannot be searched by the police without a warrant.
There may have been all sorts of negotiations between Brady’s legal team and the NFL. But there’s a certain charm in a glamorous quarterback using the example of his cell phone to defend his rights — and that of other players — as a private citizen.