BRISTOL, Connecticut: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t just punish the New England Patriots when he took away their first-round draft pick — he broke the heart of one of their littlest fans.
And her dad, superfan Todd Orsatti, says no one gets to do that to plucky pint-sized Pats fan Maddy, his 7-year-old daughter. That’s why he has filed suit, along with six other diehards, claiming emotional distress.
“She’s definitely upset,” Todd Orsatti told the Herald last night in his memorabilia-festooned home in Bristol.
“I try to educate my daughter about this stuff. I want her to be a smart fan,” Orsatti said. “She’s like, ‘How come they didn’t just fine them $50,000?’
“I said ‘I don’t know.’?” Orsatti said. “?‘Because they’re going to get them. It’s almost a conspiracy.’
“She said ‘If that’s the way it is, and it’s not going to be a level playing field, and it’s not going to be fair, then how is that fair?’
“I said — and this is a little messed up — I said, ‘Because people hate winners and sometimes people get jealous when people aren’t as good. They try to knock them down.’?”
It’s one of those ugly facts of life he hated having to tell his little girl.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Boston yesterday, claims that the NFL made an “arbitrary and capricious decision to revoke the Patriots first round draft choice in the April 28, 2016 NFL Draft.” Seth Carey, an attorney licensed in the loyal Patriot states of Maine, Connecticut and Massachusetts, bases his case on the notion that the league failed to implicate the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady in a scheme to deflate footballs before the 2015 AFC Championship Game.
Orsatti, 47, has been a season-ticket holder since 2011, and a diehard fan since his grandfather took him to his first game in 1976.
He said when he first heard talk about suing the NFL over Deflategate, he wasn’t sure. Then he thought of something his daughter said.
“She told me a story about a kid on the playground who tried to knock her down a peg. And she said, ‘But I stood up for myself.’ And I said ‘You know what Maddy, that’s good. I thought, ‘Let’s stand up. Let’s say something.’?”
Visitors enter the Orsatti home across a Patriots doormat, and are immediately greeted by three massive framed posters on the living room wall commemorating three of the team’s championships. One closet is crammed with his collection of 41 Patriots jerseys. Another contains his DVD collection — 700 discs that includes nearly every game the Patriots have played dating to 1960.
“I’m missing 63 and 67,” he said. “And some of the older ones are just highlights.”
Then, there’s the life-size cardboard cutout of Tom Brady in the kitchen, by a wall covered with gameday posters.
“I think these guys forget about the fans,” Orsatti said about the NFL. “These owners are making a lot of money and it’s an owner faction that’s going after Kraft. If Kraft can’t sue them, maybe we can and that’s how I look at it.”