Deflategate: Should Tom Brady Be Suspended?

7 May
Tom Brady

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady might face a suspension after his role in the “Deflategate” scandal.
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We didn’t need a 243-page report to tell us Tom Brady probably cheated during the New England Patriots’ 45-7 playoff victory over the Indianapolis Colts in last season’s AFC Championship Game.

But that’s what we received Wednesday.

Ted Wells, the architect behind the recent Wells Report, stated it was “more probable than not” that Brady was “at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities involving the release of air from Patriots game balls.”

Four months of investigating has led us to “more probable than not.” I could have told you that. But we already knew.

The less-than-definitive report simply confirmed Brady might have, potentially, probably had something to do with the footballs being deflated. That’s all the confirmation we need.

The report states locker room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski “participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls after the balls were examined by the referee.”

Am I supposed to believe these were a couple of rogue employees who decided to deflate footballs on their own? Of course not. Why would they without their star quarterback knowing about it?

Now that’s the million dollar question. It also supports the notion that Brady did, in fact, have something – if not everything – to do with it.

Brady handles the ball on every offensive snap. A 37-year-old quarterback of his tenure would undoubtedly notice if a ball was underinflated. Yet he never mentioned anything.

Additionally, Brady refused to hand over his cell phone to aid in the investigation after exchanging phone calls with one of the equipment assistants just days after news broke of ball-tampering suspicions. This suggests he had something to hide.

Intentionally deflating footballs might seem like a petty violation at face value, but it’s all about the principle. In the grand scheme of things, I care a lot more about players taking HGH or other illegal substances to gain an unfair advantage over their competition, as it’s a more prominent league-changing issue. But that remains a conversation to be had another day.

Brady cheated. That’s a fact. You can’t deny it. You can’t defend it. He and his accomplices altered the centerpiece of the game: the football. In doing so, even by the slightest margin, he gained a competitive advantage over his opponent.

Forget about the final score of the Patriots’ 45-7 shellacking of the Colts. Forget about the fact that the Patriots actually scored more points after the deflated balls were replaced at halftime. These points are rendered moot. They don’t condone cheating.

And that’s exactly what Brady did, thus corrupting the integrity of the game. I’m not suggesting the Patriots would have lost to the Colts – not by any stretch. Brady’s indiscretion wasn’t worth a 38-point difference on the scoreboard. But if the Patriots were the better team, why would Brady feel the need to cheat?

Brady likely will, and should, be suspended – a small price to pay for a quarterback with four Super Bowl rings and a spot waiting for him in the Hall of Fame.

If Brady’s actions are any indication, he doesn’t care about his legacy, nor do the Patriots. New England is no stranger to rule infringements.

Back in 2007, the team was punished after a staff member was caught videotaping the New York Jets’ defensive signals, known as “Spygate.” There’s a great deal of irony that eight years later, surveillance videos showed McNally had taken footballs into a bathroom, where he remained for 100 seconds, before taking them back to the field before the game.

There’s an easy solution: have the NFL provide a set of league-mandated footballs rather than allow each team to use its own.

I don’t care whether it’s one game, two games, four games or even an entire season; Brady needs to be suspended. Commissioner Roger Goodell must take action and send a message that cheating, no matter the severity, will not be tolerated in the NFL.

I’d be in favor of further punishment to the Patriots’ organization as well. It starts from the top. Owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick may not have had any knowledge of Brady’s transgressions. But Goodell once said, “ignorance is not an excuse,” regarding the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal in 2012. That resulted in major suspensions for Saints head coach Sean Payton and General Manager Mickey Loomis.

A similar ruling could apply here. Just because Kraft and Belichick were unaware doesn’t mean they should be exempt from punishment. After all, the Patriots have been involved in controversy before.

At this point, the Patriots’ integrity is difficult to question. Why?

Because there’s no integrity left – at least more probable than not.

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