Tom Brady may be the best quarterback of this generation. He has more championship rings than Peyton Manning (4), he has more Super Bowl MVPs than Brett Favre (3), and has more Pro Bowl selections than Drew Brees (11). He has been the quintessential winner during his 16-year career with the New England Patriots always qualifying for the playoffs and consistently being a favorite to make a championship run. On just the merit of his statistics and awards, Tom Brady should be a first ballot Hall of Fame selection at the end of his decorated career. However, Brady is not without controversy. At least two of his championships have been marred with the controversy of cheating.
Spygate corrupted the legacy of at least one of Brady’s first three championships, and conceivably affected the outcome of all three of the championships. The New England Patriots videotaped the practices of their opponents and stole their opponents’ plays and signals, giving them a unique advantage over the other franchises. Though Brady himself did not abscond plays from NFL teams, he directly benefitted from having them. Knowing defensive calls prior to the defense setting up meant that Brady could make the necessary adjustments to his offense based on defensive sets and get out of bad plays altogether. And then, there was Deflategate. In the 2016-17 NFL season, Tom Brady will serve a four game suspension for his role in deflating footballs to give him an advantage passing the football. He never admitted to any wrongdoing during the AFC championship game where the deflated balls were discovered, or before that, but he vehemently refused to turn over his phone to NFL authorities when asked. In fact, Brady allegedly destroyed his phone so that the information on the phone was not recoverable.
Here’s Brady’s account of the events:
I am very disappointed by the NFL’s decision to uphold the 4 game suspension against me. I did nothing wrong, and no one in the Patriots organization did either.
Despite submitting to hours of testimony over the past 6 months, it is disappointing that the Commissioner upheld my suspension based upon a standard that it was “probable” that I was “generally aware” of misconduct. The fact is that neither I, nor any equipment person, did anything of which we have been accused. He dismissed my hours of testimony and it is disappointing that he found it unreliable.
I also disagree with yesterdays narrative surrounding my cellphone. I replaced my broken Samsung phone with a new iPhone 6 AFTER my attorneys made it clear to the NFL that my actual phone device would not be subjected to investigation under ANY circumstances. As a member of a union, I was under no obligation to set a new precedent going forward, nor was I made aware at any time during Mr. Wells investigation, that failing to subject my cell phone to investigation would result in ANY discipline.
Most importantly, I have never written, texted, emailed to anybody at anytime, anything related to football air pressure before this issue was raised at the AFC Championship game in January. To suggest that I destroyed a phone to avoid giving the NFL information it requested is completely wrong.
To try and reconcile the record and fully cooperate with the investigation after I was disciplined in May, we turned over detailed pages of cell phone records and all of the emails that Mr. Wells requested. We even contacted the phone company to see if there was any possible way we could retrieve any/all of the actual text messages from my old phone. In short, we exhausted every possibility to give the NFL everything we could and offered to go thru the identity for every text and phone call during the relevant time. Regardless, the NFL knows that Mr. Wells already had ALL relevant communications with Patriots personnel that either Mr. Wells saw or that I was questioned about in my appeal hearing. There is no “smoking gun” and this controversy is manufactured to distract from the fact they have zero evidence of wrongdoing.
I authorized the NFLPA to make a settlement offer to the NFL so that we could avoid going to court and put this inconsequential issue behind us as we move forward into this season. The discipline was upheld without any counter offer. I respect the Commissioners authority, but he also has to respect the CBA and my rights as a private citizen. I will not allow my unfair discipline to become a precedent for other NFL players without a fight.
Lastly, I am overwhelmed and humbled by the support of family, friends and our fans who have supported me since the false accusations were made after the AFC Championship game. I look forward to the opportunity to resume playing with my teammates and winning more games for the New England Patriots.
Whether Brady is telling the truth about his phone or not, he has now been linked to at least 2 scandals and won NFL championships in the subsequent playoff series. If the integrity of professional football is as important as Roger Goodell and the rest of the National Football League management teams say it is, then multiple cheating accusations and being connected to at least one confirmed cheating offense has to tarnish his legacy. Pete Rose, the most prolific hitter in baseball, has yet to be elected into Baseball’s Hall of Fame because of his gambling addiction. Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, and Barry Bonds have been kept out the Hall because the voters believe that these men used performance enhancing drugs (Bonds was never convicted of any wrong doing with PEDs, though it is publicly accepted that he did) to advance and prolong their careers. Admittedly though, Major League Baseball is much harder on baseball players than the National Football League is on football players.
Brett Favre, an NFL quarterback whose career compares well to Brady’s career, was elected into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility despite a few character issues outside of football. Favre held several National Football League records when he finally retired from football, he won one championship with Green Bay, had 3 MVPs, and was selected to the Pro Bowl 11 times. However, Favre also held three separate NFL franchises hostage - the Green Bay Packers, the New York Jets, and the Minnesota Vikings - by teetering between retirement and the starting quarterback position of each franchise. And, simple indecision is not the whole of his indiscretions. Brett Favre inexplicably, explicitly, and inappropriately sent pictures of his penis to Jenn Sterger, a Jets reporter, while his wife Deanna Favre fought against breast cancer, yet he made into Canton on the first try. Conversely, Terrell Owens, a wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Dallas Cowboys, was a malcontent and a loudmouth, but that was the entirety of his character issues. He finished second or third in every statistical category for a wide receiver behind only Jerry Rice, and Randy Moss is the sole receiver who has had a comparable career. TO is ahead of Marvin Harrison in nearly every statistical wide receiver category, and Harrison was taken into Canton on his first try while Owens sits outside the Hall of Fame waiting for his next opportunity for enshrinement. Harrison played his entire career with Peyton Manning and without controversy. He was quiet and soft-spoken in public, and he played with arguably the best regular season play-caller in NFL history. Terrell Owens played with average quarterbacks and put up better numbers, however his personality was extremely polarizing. Where Harrison was professional and understated, Owens was obnoxious and always searching for the cameras. That ultimately negatively affected his popularity with professional football writers and voters.
Unfortunately, public perception plays into Hall of Fame votes much too often. Favre is remembered as a gunslinger with a cannon for an arm. His public visage remains in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin with the green and gold on his back and a smile on his face instead of in New York holding his manhood in an unsolicited sex photo. Marvin Harrison is remembered as a consistent route runner who did not drop the football. Professional football fans can still see him streaking on post routes while Peyton drops the ball right over his shoulder. The same fans have already forgotten that he allegedly shot and killed a man that he publicly fought near the bar and carwash that he owns. To the people who make decisions, Terrell Owens will always be a primadonna who talked more than he played instead of one of the most talented performers in NFL history. And, that brings us back to Brady. Tom Brady is seen as the class of the league despite direct links to questionable and unprincipled behavior. He is regarded as the ultimate winner, and he lives the American dream. Until recently, Tom Brady was the highest paid man in the NFL, he is still considered to be one of the most accurate pass throwers in the league, is married to a Brazilian supermodel who earns more money then he does, and is playing for the best and most popular team in the league when he should be labeled a talented cheat. Will Tom Brady be kept out of the Hall of Fame on his first attempt like Terrell Owens? Probably not. Football is much more forgiving of cheaters than baseball, Brady is beloved despite his actions, and he represents the All-American ideal. He is a tall, good-looking guy, married to a better looking woman, and the best at his profession. After the presumed 3-4 seasons that he will play before retirement adding to his statistics, the five year waiting period before he becomes eligible for the Hall of Fame, and the short attention span of today’s sports fans, Tom Brady almost certainly will be a first ballot induction into Canton. But, he should not be.