of the greatest pieces of advice I ever heard was presented in
a very simple sentence:
you find you’re in a hole, stop digging
I recall, my first encounter with the proverb came in 1990 at
a commencement address from William Safire. That said, the overall
concept seems to have existed in some form for quite a while,
including being attributed in part to Will Rogers.
advice itself is really brilliant though. In fact, as a life lesson
for all purposes, it matches up quite nicely with years of experience
I’ve had with first aid and medical scenarios, which more or less
can be generically summarized this way:
first order of business should always be stabilizing the situation.
Don’t let it get worse.
this comment is mine. My words. My summary of thoughts. Kind of
a simple definition of first aid.
you arrive on a scene and find someone with a broken bone, the
trick of first aid, of initial care, is making sure things don’t
get worse. The hospital and doctor can apply a cast, perform surgery,
and do anything else that might be part of improving, healing
and offering long-term treatment. The ambulance crew, the person
offering first aid, needs to address bleeding, keep the patient
as calm as possible, and… to use the words I used above… stabilize
things and make sure they don’t get worse.
could pass along more examples and information and explanations,
but I think you see where I’m going… and to that I mean bringing
this to the real world, real life concepts… once you realize you
have a problem, whether big or small, the very first thing to
do is everything possible to make sure it doesn’t get worse.
that folks, is where the huge issue is to be found with the whole
Tom Brady air in the footballs story. Because, in my opinion,
the NFL has proven itself to be amazingly inept at providing general
first aid to some of their biggest emergencies in recent years.
And the Brady situation is now the biggest example of all.
we go any further, we need to establish something. Basically,
two directly opposing viewpoints, and yet distinctly two sides
of the same coin.
number one ~ Brady is innocent.
number two ~ Brady and the entire New England organization are
a bunch of lousy cheaters.
many people, one of these views isn’t available for debate. Some
are convinced that Brady is unquestionable in this. And for some,
Brady is guilty, guilty, guilty.
thing is… for those that do fall into either of these camps, their
opinion is absolute and without compromise. And, in part, that
is absolutely something to know exists. Brady will never, and
I do so mean the complete and definitive use of NEVER, clear his
name with the group convinced he had everything to do with the
pressure of the footballs.
group also tends to blame him for subjects such as every penalty
flag thrown throughout the league, the price of gasoline, their
dislike of lobster rolls, and global warming. However, I’m trying
to remain impartial here, and not point fingers or throw around
baseless accusations about a group of whining crybabies. I mean,
really… I, umm… ok… back to the topic at hand…)
point is, this issue is already decided for many people. Not necessarily
a majority of people. But many people. No matter how it was (or
is) investigated, resolved, punished, or presented… Brady’s image
was beyond accusation and, more accurately stated: “How DARE they
say this about him!”… or… Brady was guilty, and any effort to
say otherwise was yet another campaign to bow down to the Patriots
and give them whatever they want if they stomp their feet and
am not here to convince anyone that their prevailing thoughts
tangent… I will say to those convinced the NFL is without a doubt
at all acting appropriately, you might want to call all the schools
you’ve attended and see if you can get any sort of settlement
concerning your education. Honestly, have you read the reports
about the undisputed parts of this story? No system for testing
footballs during or after games, no system for logging readings
and retaining information, gauges providing conflicting results
and no consensus on which gauges were even used when, footballs
from the Colts also registering as underinflated, a long-time
official stating he knows defective footballs are possible and
would lose pressure, and… well… the list just keeps going.)
what I want to say is directed more toward the NFL… the league
offices… the commissioner. And it’s a very basic question.
any point, did it occur to you to stop digging?
my lord, I cannot believe how every passing wave of attention
and stage of the process makes Roger Goodell look like an absolutely
dumbfounded imitation of Moe Howard.
ago… MONTHS ago… this is what should have happened. (Completely
One, Scene One -- Roger Goodell brings Tom Brady into his office
and speaks privately to him)
here’s the deal. This entire investigation stinks. The league
obviously needs to establish some strict guidelines and procedures
for how the footballs are tested, handled, and secured. I am not
happy by the details I am seeing. Not happy by the measurements
that were recorded.
not thrilled by the feedback I am getting from other teams about
the actions of you, your coach, and your organization. I’m not
saying anything specific. I’m just saying there are a lot of people
that, out of jealousy that is petty or experience that might be
justified but they just can’t prove, don’t like or trust the New
England Patriots. And what I see here I don’t like.
the fact is, no accusations can be proven. And there is plenty
of questionable information that has scientific evidence for being
plausible without foul play. We’re going address that. We’re going
to take our medicine and make every attempt possible to protect
the integrity of the game now and going forward.
said, I will not let a player, no matter how talented, celebrated,
decorated or important, defy the NFL. You and I both know some
of the difficulties created by your actions in this investigation.
And I cannot let that stand here on its own, or as an example
for the future. So I’m giving you a choice. You do not have to
admit any guilt. You do not have to say anything publicly. You
are either going to pay a fine that equal’s four games worth of
pay, or, you’re going to be suspended for the first game of the
season, with the explanation being violations of the personal
conduct policy due to lack of cooperation in a league investigation.”
Two, Scene One -- Roger Goodell holds a press conference)
want to thank you all for being here today. I have a statement
to make, and I will not take any questions at this time. There
will be official materials handed out to you at the conclusion
of this press conference, and they will also be made available
from our league offices.
you know, there have been questions raised about the equipment
used during the AFC Championship game, specifically as this relates
to the air pressure of the footballs being used during play.
events, and our investigation into them, has demonstrated that
the NFL, our personnel and our policies, have been insufficient
and in many ways inadequate. We have found that there is a need
to better test equipment before, during and after games. We have
found that there is a need for better and more consistent tracking
systems, monitoring processes, and then more, right down to the
calibration of gauges being used and the security of the footballs
from the time of measurement through the completion of the game.
National Football League accepts our responsibility for improving
in these areas, raising our level of knowledge about these situations,
and protecting the fair and level playing field that makes the
competition found in our sport so great.
have found no verified or definitive evidence of improper action
by anyone, from league officials to team personnel, in this matter.
And as such, no punishments will be handed down against the New
England Patriots in this matter.
we are disappointed by the actions of Tom Brady during the investigation
process. And as such, we have expressed our concerns, explained
our expectations, and for his conduct Mr. Brady has been fined
a total of a four game suspension, where he will be allowed to
play without pay.”
it perfect? No… of course not. This two act play is an outline,
and not a true solution. But…
is absolutely nothing about this entire situation that is getting
better. Nothing. From the stories, tweets and reports during the
first days after the AFC Championship game… through the Wells
report… through the appeal process… and now marching into federal
court… this has been a parade of increasing stupidity. (You guessed
it… an ever-growing hole.)
the group to blame is the NFL. It is their actions that allowed
the initial fires to grow and spread without action. It is their
actions that allowed a Super Bowl to be, at times, overshadowed…
their actions that have unleashed the major story of this offseason…
their actions that threaten to watch it take over the next season.
summary, the NFL just keeps digging. And they keep digging even
though it was obvious there was a hole… they keep digging even
though it was obvious the hole was getting bigger… and they keep
digging even though it is becoming evident that hole cannot be
before you go all crazy… defending Brady and his innocence… challenging
the non-admission fine I’m suggesting… whatever… consider…
NFL has released a program for the monitoring of footballs that
will be put into place this very season. And, by the time the
next Super Bowl is played, results will be in. Results and data
the league has never before had available. Amazingly, all signs…
from the materials in their own Wells Report on this situation,
to the very laws of physics and the natural world… indicate that
they will find the pressure in footballs does change during a
contest, and does drop in cold weather. Which means…
that any of us that have stepped outside while holding a bunch
of balloons for a party on a cold December day could have provided
them for free -- The NFL will have paid lawyers and staff an unreal
amount of money to find out that, as noted in The Breakfast Club,
“the world’s an imperfect place”… and so are footballs.
this happens, Tom Brady may have been suspended for multiple games…
potentially altering the results of the season in dramatic ways…
only to learn that, amazingly, those readings might not be that
far out of line after all.
is going to get those numbers. And if they support what defenders
of Tom Brady and the Patriots have been claiming, the size of
this hole will be beyond belief. You think it’s funny now? Just
wait… because NFL staff seems to still have shovels in their hands…
and the data seems to say that digging will continue.