Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Supremely Bored, if a Trifle Amused

It is the right of every citizen of the United States to appeal their case in litigation to the Supreme Court.

Few get to do so, however. It is also the right of the Supreme Court to tell said citizen to get lost, a right the court exercises regularly and frequently.  That's why the case of Tom Brady v. the NFL will almost surely peter out into one of the following two endings, neither satisfactory for him.

Ending 1: Brady considers the odds and decides to accept the decision of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. He cuts his losses, cuts loose from the Players' Association legal team, and serves a four-game suspension at the start of the 2016 season.

Ending 2: Brady fights on. He appeals to the Supreme Court, which has its clerks read the briefs, enjoys a hearty chuckle, and sometime after the first Monday in October when it resumes session, issues a one sentence ruling telling Brady to get lost. Sometime could be anytime. It could be that first Monday. It could be after Super Bowl 51. It could be before the final four games of the regular season, or before the start of the playoffs. Whatever time the ruling came, it'd be either really or desperately inconvenient for the Patriots.

I suppose fairness requires we consider Ending 3, in which the court takes Brady's case and we'll parse the fine points of constitutional law with Scott Zolak for months on end. I give Ending 3 one chance in 10,000. It takes the vote of four of the eight, used to be nine justices to accept an appeal. Unless half the Court has Brady in their fantasy leagues, that won't happen.

Don't know if you've ever noticed this, but Supreme Court Justices have somewhat outsized egos. Compared to them, Cristiano Ronaldo is plagued by doubt about his worth. It's not their fault, really. The combination of being really smart, having oodles of power and a lifetime job would breed an extreme sense of self-importance in any human. Our Constitution sets them up to become jerks.

Somehow, I don't see four of those folks voting to hear extended arguments involving gas laws, football air pressure, or even the finer points of the NFL and NFL Players' Association Basic Agreement. The Court likes to envision itself debating constitutional principles that could alter the destiny of the nation, not some case whose practical effect would be to give Rex Ryan and the Bills false hope of winning the AFC East.

As I said, the Justices take themselves (and to be fair, their job) very seriously. As I also said, they're all very intelligent, more than smart enough to know that taking Brady's appeal would immediately uphold the unwritten constitutional principle "America is ridiculous." It'd be a head-on slide into the national freak show. I bet we'll see Anthony Kennedy on "Dancing With the Stars" before that happens.

Brady never gives up in a game It's a big part, probably the biggest, of his greatness. So maybe he'll appeal and take his chances.

But Brady does give up on a play from time to time. We've all seen him go limp to protect himself when the rush closes in and a sack is inevitable. There's always another play coming up. Why tempt disaster.

Brady would have a lot more plays left with 12 games to go in the season than he will on the first Monday in October. Not to mention the first Monday in December.


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