Deflate-Gate Hits Pats Hard
May 14, 2015
First came the Wells Report, an investigation into the Deflate-Gate incident that took place during the AFC Championship Game between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts. Deflate-Gate, in case you missed it, centers around the fact that 11 of the 12 footballs the New England Patriots put into play were under-inflated. And in case you missed this, Tom Brady, the Patriots quarterback, has always let it be known that he prefers throwing softer footballs.
The story almost went dead as I wrote in these pages a few weeks ago. After all, the football season has been over for well over three months now. I also made a mistaken prediction that the NFL would sweep this under the rug, much like they did the Spy-Gate incident that New England got caught doing.
Less than a week after the Wells Report came out, the NFL has announced its punishment. Brady came out looking quite guilty in the investigation and he was suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season. The Patriots were fined a million dollars and they will also lose a first round draft choice next year and a fourth round selection in 2017.
Tom Brady with the 2015 Super Bowl trophy
The story is back on the nation’s mind and the reaction to the penalty is mixed. There are some who feel it is too strong considering the crime. Others feel it fits the crime.
The NFL has made it be known that there were mitigating factors such as Brady and the Pats not cooperating fully throughout the investigation. An example of this is that the league asked Brady for all his text messages to the staff member who actually deflated the ball. Brady refused while citing he did not want anyone seeing his private texts. He and his agent did not tell the public that the league only wanted to see certain texts, not all of his texts. The NFL also spoke of considering this act of cheating a second offense with Spygate being the first.
Though his owner, Robert Craft, and his agent have likely advised Brady against coming clean, I, along with a majority of football fans, would like to Brady to admit his wrongdoing.
Though his offense against his sport does not compare to the acts committed by the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Pete Rose, and Lance Armstrong, I hope he chooses not to follow their path of endless deceit and denial before finally telling the truth. Only a devout New England Patriot fan who is devoid of logical thinking can think Brady is innocent in this matter. If you believe Brady at this point, you have to believe a part-time locker room attendant would secretly confiscate the footballs in a championship game and deflate the balls before returning them to the referees before game time. Brady followers will also tell you the NFL is out to get him. You have to be kidding. The league and the TV networks do not want the game’s top quarterback to sit out any games.
Brady should put an end to this now. Drop his appeal and do the right thing. Admit that he knowingly broke the rules and did not cooperate fully with Ted Wells during the investigation. Admit that he conspired with a couple of low-level staffers to alter game balls to his liking.
One has to believe the punishment would have been much less severe if Brady had gotten out in front of the incident and admitted his part in the caper.
rady’s agent Don Yee
To those who feel the penalty is too severe, I like the letter the NFL sent to Brady. It stated that “The integrity of the game is of paramount importance to everyone in our league, and requires unshakable commitment to fairness and compliance with the playing rules. Each player, no matter how accomplished and otherwise respected, has an obligation to comply with the rules and must be held accountable for his actions when those rules are violated and the public’s confidence in the game is called into question.”
And to those who say Brady and New England did not need deflated balls to beat Indy since they blew them out anyway in the second half after the ball were replaced, you must actually feel that was the first game the Pats played with deflated balls. Come on now. Be objective. And let me throw some numbers at you. Did you know that New England fumbled the football close to 50 % less than the rest of the league over the past few seasons. Everyone knows a softer football is easier to hold on to.
Note to reader: Teams, when on offense, get to use their own balls.
Deflate-Gate changes everything. Brady’s credibility took a major hit. Continuing to deny the obvious will only make it worse. Local fans will stick with him. But the non-New Englanders around the country who respected Brady as much as they respected any athlete will have trouble ever believing in him again. Telling the truth can start the healing.
Thus far, we have not heard anything from Brady and a lot of hot air from his agent. His agent, and Kraft, maintain the Wells report did not show any evidence. In fact, they are attacking the league for conspiring with the Colts before the AFC Championship Game in what amounted to a setup. Even after their employee admitted to deflating the balls.
Again, this is not Rose gambling on baseball or Armstrong and Rodriguez pumping one illegal drug after another into their bodies for a competitive edge. Brady should tell us all that he didn’t realize taking some air out of the ball was a big deal, and that he now realizes it is a very big deal. He should apologize to Kraft for lying to him and for making the owner look and sound like a fool at the Super Bowl. He should apologize to Jastremski and McNally, the part-timers who got fired, for putting franchise-player pressure on employees in no position to resist it, and for effectively costing them their jobs. And he should apologize to the NFL and its players, and the fans everywhere who thought Tom Brady would be among the last quarterbacks to spike the integrity of his sport.
I truly think people would find it a lot easier to root for him to become the first quarterback with five Super Bowl rings.