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Deflategate+#039;s Ultimate Lesson: The NFL Needs a Whistleblower Program Deflategate's Ultimate Lesson: The NFL Needs a Whistleblower Program

- (Huffington) - 2 years ago...

Sure, we have some resolution in the whole Deflategate scandal now that New York federal judge Richard Berman vacated the NFL's 4-game suspension of New England star quarterback Tom Brady. Brady -- largely redeemed, Hall-of-Fame legacy safe and sound. The NFL -- another legal smackdown, highlighting its rudderless direction and need for serious self-correction. The problem is we still know nothing about what really went down. Did anyone actually tamper with the footballs? Was Brady involved? Did the NFL have it out for Brady and the Patriots? Did the NFL fan a little bit of firestorm? Unfortunately, Judge Berman's decision skips over all of that -- leaving us in the dark once again in the latest NFL scandal. As Judge Berman made clear, we certainly cannot count on the NFL to clear things up. The league and its fearless (feckless to some) leader seemingly did everything in their power to go after Brady hard, truth be damned, and yet still coming up empty. So where does that leave us. In short, it's still a complete mess with neither side as a practical matter able to prove what they need to do in order to be fully vindicated. The NFL cannot establish what actually happened to the footballs because the Patriots' insiders who know the truth have no incentive to come forward and every incentive to stay quiet if they ever want to work (or, for that matter, order some clam chowder and a whoopie pie) in New England again. Similarly, although the Patriots have circumstantial evidence of an NFL smear campaign, they have no way to force the NFL to disclose who has been leaking false information to the press. And, whether this was all just a set-up orchestrated by NFL employees with loyalties to other teams who cannot regularly beat the Patriots on the field. This is a dilemma that often occurs in situations where a powerful entity is involved -- be it the multi-billion dollar enterprise that is the NFL or the most successful quarterback in the history of the game. Those who know what happened face incredible personal and professional risk if they come forward. Even worse, once they blow that whistle, they can do little to force a full-fledged investigation. If we have learned anything from this latest pro-football kerfuffle, it is the NFL needs a full-fledged whistleblower program modeled after the False Claims Act (FCA) laws. These are the laws that the federal United States, and many states and cities have enacted to help guard against fraud and foul play. They protect whistleblowers from retaliation and give a financial incentive (a portion of any Government recovery) to step out and be heard. They have resulted in billions of dollars being returned to the Government and exposed serious dangers to our health and well-being with a steady stream of courageous individuals blowing the whistle on wrongdoing in the health care, defense, securities, banking, construction and many other industries. Why not the NFL too? With this type ...

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