Tom Brady: Scapegoat? Will He Forever Be Asterisked?

iPhone_2013 06 21_3122Here’s a little something I don’t get. Tom is suspended for four games I assume without pay. I read somewhere that means he will not get 2 million dollars in pay from the Patriots. The Patriots were fined one million dollars. That means the Patriots will end up being ahead one million dollars since they’ll pay the fine out of the money they save on Brady’s contract payment.

It must be kept in mind that all that has been proven is that in one game the balls were not at the psi level they were supposed to be at. All conceded it had no effect on the game since the Patriot’s won in a runaway. Yet the four game suspension and two million dollar loss of money suggests the NFL believes that this was a pattern that Brady was following; in other words that he was cheating in other games, otherwise the penalty for him makes no sense. The NFL used language such as “an ongoing plan;” and “the evidence suggest that January 18th was not the first and only occasion when this occurred [evidence] . . . goes back to before the beginning of the 2014 season.”

The NFL did not stop there. It gave as reasons for the punishment the team’s prior cheating; the failure of the team to cooperate fully with the investigation; and finally, it all but accused Brady of lying “it is significant that key witnesses — Mr. Brady, Mr. Jastremski, and Mr. McNally — were not fully candid during the investigation.’ 

The NFL by taking that position severely tarnished Brady’s legacy. I suggest that because some of the games during the season were close, the advantage he gained using an under inflated football (easier to throw, catch and not fumble) may have made the difference between winning and losing. Or it may have bettered his passing percentage or touchdown statistics not only in 2014 but in every year he played. If that is the case then all of Brady’s achievements will be followed with an asterisk because with this penalty the NFL is asserting he was playing the game one way while the other teams were following the rules.

Those who know him and watched him play over the years know is a gross injustice by the NFL to leave that inference. He achieved those records because of the fire in his belly, his enormous talent and his desire to win. The NFL has wrongly besmirched his fine reputation.

The NFL is totally wrong inferring the balls were not inflated properly in other games because there is no evidence, nada, to show that. In only one game has the football been shown to be under inflated . Only one.

Tom Vincent wrote to Brady that his actions “clearly constitute conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the game of professional football.” I’d suggest what is more detrimental to the public’s confidence is punishing Brady for wrongs imagined. It is putting a cloud over him for sins that are imagined.

Brady is a great football player and person but he got jammed in here not because of the balls that did not come up to standards but because of the people who he has surrounded himself with. They have let him down and given him bad advice. Brady’s agent Don Yee with his outrageous comments during the investigation did nothing to mitigate his punishment. If I were Brady he’d be out the door before sunset.

As I recall Bill Belichick quickly washed his hands of everything pushing Brady out into the line of fire. How does he walk when he takes the credit for the team’s success and he overseas all the personnel on the team? Kraft with his demand for an apology, his defiance, his refusal to make everyone available to be interviewed also hurt Brady. Finally whoever was advising Brady throughout all this also hurt him.

You see everyone ran from Brady and let him hold the bag of blame. A simple mea culpa in the beginning may have saved Brady’s reputation and put this to rest. The Patriots were too big feeling to do that; they pushed back and all they really did was push Brady’s reputation into the Dempsey Dumpster.

Kraft now says Brady has the team’s unconditional support. What good is that now after his actions damaged Brady. If Brady realizes that no one had his back and they were all thinking of themselves and running for cover it will be difficult to imagine his reaction.

Brady, the enormously skilled and talented quarterback, after all the sweat, blood and tears he exerted on behalf of the NFL and the Patriots deserved better. The inference that he cheated all season is plainly wrong since there is no evidence of it. The severity of the punishment supports the inference. At worst it can be said Brady did cheat by not following the rules on inflated balls in that one game.

Brady has to wonder whether it is worth going on. This unconscionable penalty and treatment is a clear message to him that the NFL has no regard for him as a person or for the sacrifices he has made over the years. I wouldn’t be surprised if he told Goodell, Vincent, Kraft and Belichick that they can’t suspend or fine him because he’s going on to better things. It must be clear to him that they think little of him as a person to leave his legacy with this unconscionable verdict.

Goodell took away Brady’s good name for  the good of the NFL. Brady would be smart to give Goodell a good-bye.

11 thoughts on “Tom Brady: Scapegoat? Will He Forever Be Asterisked?

  1. I think it’s fair to say that the NFL hasn’t even proved the Patriots used improperly inflated footballs. This is a good article showing the inconsistencies in the Wells report regarding referee Walt Anderson’s statements.

    Brady is being suspended for 4 games for his lack of cooperation and for the Patriots past transgressions in Spygate. The first reason is valid, however there is no precedent for suspension. Favre got a $50K fine for stonewalling during a sex harassment investigation. Moreover, Goodell wasn’t required to turn over his text messages when Mueller investigated his knowlegde of the Ray Rice video, so its an arbitrary standard he is being held to, one which the Commissioner itself is not. The second reason is not valid because Brady had nothing to do with Spygate. The report exonerates the organization and the coach, yet the league still imposes the loss of 2 draft picks (VERY SIGNIFICANT for the long term health of the organization) and $1 million, the highest ever in league history. Again this boils down to the league being upset McNally was not allowed to be interviewed in person for a 5th time.

    I also think it is entirely plausible Brady never ordered the men to deflate the footballs after inspection. The text messages show the stress these guys were under due to Brady being unhappy about the footballs. Brady is a perfectionist, and is known to lash out at people that he deems to not be living up to his standards. It is not implausible to think these guys deflated the footballs knowing they would catch hell from Brady if they did not feel the same way they did when he did his pregame inspection before turning them over to the refs. Even if he did know what they where doing, but did not specifically order it, should he be suspended for not being a whistleblower on his colleagues? Is there a duty to report others misdeeds? I don’t believe the league has such a rule, otherwise people who know about steroid use could be in trouble. I think its fair to say that if the NFL can discipline a player 4 games for “more probably than not” of being “generally aware” of another’s transgressions, each time a player is suspended for PEDs, all of his teammates must be investigated as well for their knowledge of the players PED use. Both PEDs and deflated footballs benefit everyone on the team.

  2. Matt: I think Brady cheated, but the penalty is too harsh. I think a one- or two-game suspension is about right. The $1 million fine can stand, since the Pats are loaded. One draft choice, a second rounder, next year. I agree that it looks like Brady got lousy advice, but you have to wonder, did he get bad advice or did he ignore good advice? He looks like a strong-minded individual to me.

    Afterthought: Based on the text messages, the two locker room employees strike me as low lifes. The glamorous Patriots should have been able to attract dozens of highly capable job seekers, even for these humble positions. But that didn’t happen.

    1. Dan:

      Agree. The locker room guys talked back and forth but there is nothing to show they altered any footballs before the one date and for the NFL to conclude their idle chatter means Brady was using under inflated balls in other games is wrong; and I suggest the NFL had to conclude that to give him such a harsh penalty that truly exceeded the bounds of fairness.

      I’m not concerned about the draft choices of the million the Pats have to pay; they will do all right without the choices and they’ll increase some prices here or there and make up that million in a nano second.

      You have a good point that maybe Brady disregarded the advice he was given but the way Kraft handled it coming back strong at the NFL and putting a lid on the locker room guys cooperation makes it look like a game plan was developed early on and Brady was required to go along for the team.

      What all these geniuses overlook is as you pointed out Brady is strong minded and he certainly doesn’t need the Patriots as much as they need him. He’ll have to appeal; he’ll probably win because the wrongful assumption this was an ongoing thing with him when there is not proof of it. When he’s exonerated then maybe he’ll move on. I’d love to know what is going on in his mind now.
      Yes, with all their money you’d think the locker room guys would not be morons.

      1. Matt,
        Great point. No choice but to appeal. Hopefully win and retire without the asterisk.
        After reading the lines (and between) them of the locker room morons text messages… seems like Tommy likes his balls a little low on the psi scale (and McNally knew it) and didn’t mind signing balls and game jersies and giving away sneakers to keep them that way.
        If you haven’t read the excerpts of the locker room morons (McNally & Jastremski’s) text messages, I have attached the link to them for your convenience.

  3. I agree with all you said, Matt–but I’ll add –if the NFL officials had done their job; measure, inflate or deflate the balls to specifications, and then guarded them as they should have, none of this would have happened.
    Sad to come to this—

    1. P:

      You are right that the outcome is sad because Brady was given bad advice and others ran from him. True, the NFL did a poor job in measuring and policing the footballs and to be honest I find it hard to believe the ref sat down and measured each one himself. I also don’t think there should be a minimum and maximum for a football – each quarterback should be able to decide what is best of him. But you can’t shift all the blame to the NFL (other than it making more of it than the evidence showed) – if you leave the door or window on you house open and some thug decides to take advantage of that I don’t suppose you’d be happy if the thug walked away with your goods and any punishment because of your action. We know Brady played a game with under inflated balls. He should have admitted that and said he didn’t figure it made much difference. The stonewalling by the Patriots owner, staff, and coaches exacerbated the situation and in effect they pushed Brady off into the frozen Arctic on a small floating ice berg that was sure to sink. Be careful of your friends because for all you know they may be planning to do that to you.

      1. Matt,
        I am completely onboard with your analysis, except for one opinion…
        “you don’t think there should be a minimum and a maximum (psi) for a football. Each quarterback should be able to decide what is best for him.”
        That seems pretty far-fetched.
        NBA Basketballs have to be between 7.5 and 8.5 lbs psi.
        MLB baseballs have strict size, weight, and design standards.
        NHL pucks same thing. And frozen before games.
        FIFA Soccer balls… between 8.5 and 15.6 psi
        One way they could prevent this from reoccurring is to copy MLB and have the league itself provide balls on gameday.

        1. Then we would only see the occasional scuffed pigskin or spit-spiral….Couldn’t resist. : )
          Have a great day.

      2. I agree that Brady has been pushed out on the plank. If you recall, Belichick pointed the finger at Brady early on. Why don’t you ask Tom? the coach said at his first press conference on the matter. The institutional stonewalling has put all the heat on Brady, and deflected attention from Belichick and Kraft. It’s hard for me to believe that Belichick and Brady never discussed the condition of the game balls in advance of games where cold or inclement weather was predicted. It’s also hard to believe that the detail-oriented Belichick hired such nitwits as locker room attendants!

Comments are closed.