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Brady deflates his own legacy

Tom Brady is a dirty, rotten, lying, cheating scoundrel who should be suspended from football and removed from the record books. Better yet, order him to Faneuil Hall at high noon for a public hanging. The evidence against him is irrefutable based on the 243-page Wells Report released this week.

Is that what you want me to say?

A few months ago, when the story first broke about Brady using footballs that were underinflated in the AFC Championship Game against the Colts, I suggested the controversy was overblown. Brady played to a higher standard than most and, therefore, was unjustly held to a higher standard than most.

If it involved Austin Davis and the Rams in Week Two, for example, it would have been two paragraphs in Around the NFL. Because it was Brady and the Patriots leading into the Super Bowl, it turned into a national story. Networks broke into afternoon programming to bring you the latest on Deflategate.

The biggest infraction, as it turned out, wasn’t Brady using underinflated footballs to gain an unfair advantage in a 44-7 blowout. The Wells Report confirmed what many had thought all along, that Brady either demanded, or knew, that footballs he used failed to meet NFL inflation specifications.

Brady should have been punished. It was a rules violation but nothing more. He turned an infraction into a felony in the Court of Public Opinion when he defiantly denied any wrongdoing when he knew otherwise. He misled, refused to cooperate, flat-out lied during the investigation or, most likely, D) all of the above.

At least that’s what the report suggests.

Looking back now, Brady was no different than President Clinton claiming he didn’t have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky, or Rafael Palmiero waving his index finger at Congress while denying he ever used steroids or Alex Rodriguez lying through his pearly whites to Katie Couric.

Rather than come clean and rectify the problem, Brady added layers of lies to protect his shiny image and made it worse. If this case was blown out of proportion, and it was, Brady has nobody to blame but himself. We’ll wait for his response, but it sure sounds like he’s sticking to his story no matter what the evidence showed.

He’s intent on digging a deeper hole.

I’ll say it again: Athletes have been messing with equipment for 100 years, with pitchers doctoring baseballs and goaltenders using oversized pads and offensive linemen greasing up their jerseys and heaven knows what else. While that would be considered cheating, and it’s not right, it’s often passed off as, well, sports.

Brady probably wasn’t the only quarterback in the NFL who tinkered with the inflation of footballs. It wouldn’t surprise me if he offered the same advice to, or accepted similar tips from, other quarterbacks.

Athletes often will do whatever it takes to win, even if it means cheating. It doesn’t mean he’s a cheater in the real world. You don’t see hockey goons brawling on street corners. If the NFL suspended everyone for lying, there wouldn’t be enough players to field a team or anyone to coach them.

For the most part, the general public understands.

Brady took lying, as they say in sports, to the next level. The Wells Report suggested that he even lied to Pats coach Bill Belichick. For proof Brady knew balls were doctored, nothing was more damning than text messages between locker room attendant Jim McNally and assistant equipment man John Jastremski.

In conversations during the season both thought would be kept private, they implicated Brady and themselves. McNally, who referred to himself as the “deflator,” seemed like he was getting annoyed with Brady. Their conversations made it easy to believe Brady was very much involved rather than “more probable than not.”

“I would never do anything to break the rules,” Brady said before the Super Bowl at the height of the controversy. “I believe in fair play, and I respect the league.”

Brady’s lawyer can poke holes in the report. I’m sure there are numerous discrepancies and inconsistencies. But it doesn’t change the fact that Brady played a role and, worse, refused to accept responsibility. Brady the player trumped Brady the person. He’s still the same quarterback, but he lost credibility.

Perhaps the strangest part in this mess is that Brady didn’t need underinflated balls to become one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. He won four Super Bowls, played in six, and has a 21-8 record in the postseason. The guy is headed for the Hall of Fame, without or without the proper pounds per square inch.

In the game in question, the AFC title game, he played better in the second half with balls that were properly inflated than he did in the first, when they were underinflated. He completed 37 of 50 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns in the Super Bowl after the balls were placed under lock and key.

So what’s the punishment?

Troy Vincent, who replaced Commissioner Roger Goodell as chief executioner, needs to come down hard. Browns General Manager Ray Farmer was suspended for four games after sending text messages to the bench during games.

Vincent also needs to keep things in perspective. Brady didn’t smack around his fiancée unconscious in an elevator or beat his children. He didn’t test positive for drug use or get charged with street racing after leaving the scene of an accident. It’s hard to put a price on the integrity of the game.

It’s true, Brady isn’t Austin Davis. He’s the name and face of the Super Bowl champions. He should be held to a higher standard and therefore face a stiffer punishment. Three games would send the message. It equates to 30 baseball games. It would be a stiff punishment without going overboard.

email: bgleason@buffnews.com

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