On Jan. 18, 2015, the New England Patriots blew out the Indianapolis Colts by a score of 45-7 in the AFC Championship Game. The very next day, it was revealed that 11 out of the Patriots’ 12 game balls were inflated at a level below that of league requirements. That day marked the very beginning of the seven-month saga now known as Deflategate. Several months after the scandal became public, criminal attorney Ted Wells released a report that documented the results of investigation regulated by him and his team. Facts and evidence gathered from the report then led to the four-game suspension of Patriots’ star quarterback Tom Brady. As expected, Brady appealed the ruling, but on Tuesday the league announced that commissioner Roger Goodell has upheld the suspension, keeping it at four games.
In his final decision, Goodell revealed new information that Tom Brady had destroyed evidence during the investigation process.
“The most significant new information that emerged in connection with the appeal was evidence that on or about March 6, 2015 — the very day that he was interviewed by Mr. (Ted) Wells and his investigative team — Mr. Brady instructed his assistant to destroy the cellphone that he had been using since early 2014,” Goodell stated in his final judgement.
The NFL went on to state that Brady disposed of his cell phone even after investigators constantly demanded access to it. To make matters worse, it was confirmed that over 10,000 text messages were both sent and received during the four months that the device was in use. Brady claimed that it was his routine or practice to discard his old phone whenever he got a new one. The disposal of Brady’s old phone could be linked to his routine, but it seems very strange that he discarded his phone while knowing that investigators clearly wanted it.
Despite all the information released on Tuesday, however, Deflategate is far from over. According to sources at NFL.com, Brady is expected to take this decision to federal court. However, with the rest of the situation yet to pan out, anything can happen. However, everything that has happened up to this point suggests that Brady’s legacy is in danger. Not his legacy as a football player, but as a person.
There is no doubt that Tom Brady is a first ballot Hall of Famer. In his 15-year career, he has gone to six Super Bowls and won four of them. Only Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana, current Hall of Famers, have won that many. Brady also boasts the best playoff record among any quarterback in NFL history at 21-8. To add insult to injury, or in this case praise to excellence, Brady still has at least two years left in the tank, to further make his indent on the NFL record books. Simply by the numbers, it’s clear that Brady is without a doubt the best quarterback to ever play in the NFL.
Yet, situations like Spygate, which arose in 2002, and Deflategate this year are what surround a football player as great as Tom Brady. They shouldn’t. Deflategate and Spygate shouldn’t take away anything from Brady’s football ability or his greatness as a football player.
Regardless of how the footballs were inflated, the Patriots deserved to win that AFC championship game and eventually the Super Bowl. A 38-point deficit in the Championship game simply can’t be the result of under-inflated footballs alone. Tom Brady went on to win the Super Bowl because he is a great football player, not because he and the team cheated. Brady did cheat, but the fact that he cheated has nothing to do with his football ability. His legacy as a football player should and will not be harmed.
Brady’s professional integrity, on the other hand, will be scrutinized because that is what deserves attention. Brady deserves punishment because he was “generally aware” of the whole situation and refused to say anything about it. He also deserves punishment for the disposal of evidence in an investigative process. Both wrongdoings are related to Brady’s image as a person, not his image as a football player. The actual deflation of footballs, which was cheating as well, had no effect on the AFC Championship game. In the same way, it should have no effect on Brady. Brady destruction of evidence and concealment of the truth, however, had an effect on the investigative process. In the same way, it should have an effect on Brady and his legacy off the field.
If the outcome of Deflategate remains the way it is now, Brady will be viewed as a great football player and a person who cheated in life.
Contact Aditya Krishnan at aditya.krishnan10 ‘at’ gmail.com.