Tom Brady just got suspended again. Here’s why this should’ve never happened.


It’s the NFL offseason, and once again, Tom Brady’s in some shit. On Monday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated Brady’s 4-game-suspension from the end of the 2014-2015 season, which was originally thrown out by a lower federal court. ESPN obtained the full ruling, which reads, in part:

“We hold that the Commissioner properly exercised his broad discretion under the collective bargaining agreement and that his procedural rulings were properly grounded in that agreement and did not deprive Brady of fundamental fairness.”

So, then, the ruling is on the scope of the Commissioner’s power, and not on other factors, like, say, whether Brady actually deflated the footballs or not. If the federal courts were ruling on that point, however, science—as we must be reminded again—tells us the evidence is not in the NFL’s favor.

Joe Nocera of the New York Times wrote of a MIT professor back in January who dove into the data of the deflated balls, and came out with a surprising conclusion: the Ideal Gas Law explained the drop in the pounds per square inch (psi) of the footballs, even though the original report released by the league stated otherwise:

He bought the same gauges the N.F.L. used to measure p.s.i. levels. He bought N.F.L.-quality footballs. He replicated the temperatures of the locker room, and the colder field. And so on. When he was done, he concluded that Exponent had made a series of basic errors. Leonard’s work showed the exact opposite of Exponent’s conclusions: The drop in the Patriots’ footballs’ p.s.i was consistent with the Ideal Gas Law; the smaller drop in pressure in the Colts’ balls was not. (Leonard surmises that because the Colts’ balls were tested after the Patriots’ balls, they had warmed up again.)

Nocera quotes the professor saying that he would make his undergraduate students “repeat the experiment and correct the analysis” if they messed up as badly as the Wells Report’s hired firm, Exponent.

So—just a quick reminder: if scientific evidence had its place in court, Brady would likely be walking free. But even if the case someday reaches the Supreme Court, not even this MIT professor will be able to help Brady out.

Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.

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