When asked if he was a cheater, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said, “I don’t think so.” Who answers a question that way?
Either you play the sport the right way or you don’t. Anyway, I now know, that he is - in fact - a cheater. There is no debate any longer. After the 243-page Ted Wells report came out, we now know that the Patriots deliberately took air out of the footballs at the direction of the quarterback.
Jim McNally and John Jastremski did not go rogue and do it on their own. They did it because they were told to do so. They have those jobs to follow directions and not to do what they want to do.
I don’t want to hear from the Brady apologists who want to tell you that it is not a big deal. Rules are rules, however big or small. Brady can’t smile and get away with this, and he will not. The Daily News reported on Friday that Brady will be suspended and an announcement will come this week. I don’t need to hear from former quarterbacks or former Patriots players saying it is a form of gamesmanship and not that big of a deal.
My co-host on CBS Sports Radio, Maggie Gray, relayed a great example. Someone made the comparison to her that deflating footballs is equated to a speeding ticket. Now, the NFL changed the rules in 2006 that allowed for teams to prepare their own footballs for games. Brady and Peyton Manning lobbied for a change in the rule, ironically enough. During that time, Brady has played in 147 games with the new rule. How about if I told you that Brady was caught speeding 147 times in the last nine years? Do you look at it differently now?
I am sure this season was not the first time that this has been done in New England. Common sense leads you to believe that it has been going on for quite sometime. To Brady, it mattered. The culture in New England leads them to play fast and loose with the rules. That is all we need to know. It was easier for him to throw and it allowed the Patriots quarterback to gain an advantage in his mind. Confidence is always a key for professional athletes. If a quarterback is more comfortable then he is more confident.
During the Jets game on Oct. 16, he “complained angrily” during the game about the inflation of the footballs. The NFL talks about integrity and how important it is to the game. This transgression strikes at the heart of the NFL shield. It is pretty clear and simple.
Someone who tells you it does not affect his legacy, ask them this: In the 96-year history of the league, tell me another player of his stature that has been suspended for cheating? Why is it always the Patriots? If someone tells you that everyone else does it, ask them, “who?” The cover-up might have been worse than the crime in this instance. Maybe, I am writing a different column today if Brady just came clean.
Instead, he played dumb and expected all of us to believe him. However, he is a liar and he did cheat and he deserves everything that is coming his way. At the very least, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell needs to suspend him for four games. Instead of taking air out of the footballs, maybe Brady should try and play the game under the same rules as everyone else. After all, while your busy counting your Super Bowl rings, integrity should count for something. Shouldn’t it Tom? It does in my rule book.