For a guy who thought he’d end up as an insurance salesman until the New England Patriots finally selected him with the 199th pick (out of 254) in the 2000 NFL Draft, Tom Brady has done just fine for himself. Brady is a four-time Super Bowl Champion, three-time Super Bowl MVP, two-time NFL MVP, and the New England Patriots all-time leader in passing touchdowns, passing yards, pass completions, pass attempts, and career wins. His accolades on the field are impressive, as is the allure of him off the field. He’s married to supermodel Gisele Bundchen, has hosted Saturday Night Live, and endorses Ugg boots, Under Armour, Movado watches, and Glaceau’s Smartwater.
Tom Brady is kind of a big deal, as Ron Burgundy would say. If you type his name into a Google search 115,000,000 results appear compared to 18,500,000 results for Peyton Manning, Brady’s top adversary for the title of best quarterback in the game today. Those numbers would be even more impressive if it wasn’t for the Deflategate scandal that placed Brady in the spotlight for all of the wrong reasons and rocked the reigning Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots organization. Brady is appealing his four-game suspension after an NFL report determined that it was “more probable than not” that he was aware that the footballs he used during the AFC Title Game were illegally deflated. The Patriots owner Robert Kraft accepted the league’s punishment – a $1 million fine and the loss of a first-round draft pick in 2016 and a fourth-round pick in 2017.
But why would Tom Brady do such a thing?
The Patriots were a better team than their AFC Championship Game opponent Indianapolis Colts and everyone and their moms knew it. ESPN Stats & Info tweeted before the matchup, “Andrew Luck has played the Patriots 3 times in his career. He’s lost by at least 21 points each time.” The Colts tight end Dwayne Allen tweeted once the Deflategate scandal broke, “@NFLonFOX not a story. They could have played with soap for balls and beat us. Simply the better team. We have to continue to build! #BTM”
Was it fear?
When the Patriots started the season 2-2 after being crushed 41-14 by the Kansas City Chiefs, a game in which Brady was pulled and replaced by backup Jimmy Garoppolo, the media weighed in on Brady’s dismal performance and questioned his ability to still play the game at the highest level. The Boston Globe ran a story titled, “For Tom Brady, the end game has become apparent” and ESPN’s experts analyzed the quarterback’s struggles with a much more direct headline: “What’s wrong with Tom Brady?”
Or is it just another example of an athlete trying to gain a competitive edge and thinking he’d get away with it?
But it’s not like he was taking steroids or betting on the game, people will and have argued in Brady’s defense. There are many worse things he could have done. Other teams and players have received less severe penalties from the NFL for more severe infractions. That may be true, but cheating is still cheating. Tom Brady, charm, charisma, and all, still has to own up to any “more probable than not” wrongdoings he has done and be held accountable.
Patriots fans can claim that the league has a vendetta against the team, that the NFL hired the same research firm that denied secondhand smoke causes cancer, and come up with any conspiracy theories that help them sleep better at night.
However, a closer look reveals that ‘Tom Terrific’ has never really been that terrific of a person. He has a history of berating teammates, yelling at coaches, and apparently doesn’t know the names of people he works with since he claimed not to know the Patriots locker room attendant Jim McNally who is at the center of the Deflategate scandal.
People turn Brady’s negative traits into positives – he just cares so much about the game, he wants the best for his team, and he’s a fierce competitor. Brady is praised as someone to never count out, especially in the fourth quarter when the game is on the line. Tell that to Bridget Moynahan, Brady’s then pregnant girlfriend who he quit on when he started dating Gisele shortly after their breakup. Relationships are tricky. How can you blame him? One of the top athletes in the world deserves to date the top model.
“You want me to help guys be cool?” Brady asked Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly in the 2007 “School for The Uncool” article about how to turn the average guy into someone more like, well, Tom Brady. “I was the little sports nerd in high school who hardly ever had a girlfriend.”
However, he didn’t shy away from telling Reilly (and the rest of the world) his dating secret: “Whatever you do, keep ‘em short. You can’t let them know that you’re interested. I try to get this across to my best friend. He’s really into this girl, but I keep telling him she’s got to leave that date thinking, ‘What’s wrong with me?’”
That’s the guy men and women are defending.
Fans changed their profile pictures on social media to Brady’s jersey as a way to show support for the quarterback. Four Barstool Sports employees were arrested during a sit-in at the NFL headquarters in New York protesting the league’s punishment of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. It’s part publicity stunt for the sports site, part childish behavior.
Then there are those who emphatically believe Brady cheated and deserves what’s coming to him. Former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly said, “There’s no doubt” Brady cheated. Brady’s former teammate, and now New York Jets player, Darrelle Revis has no sympathy for him or the Patriots.
“Everybody’s blowing it up because it is Tom Brady,” Revis told the New York Daily News. “I understand that. But if (the NFL) feels he did the crime or he did something and they want to penalize them, then that’s that. (The Patriots) have a history of doing stuff. You can’t hide that. . . . Tom was there when they did that stuff in the past.”
My buddy from Maine said friendships in New England have been ruined over one friend believing that another friend isn’t showing enough support for Tom Brady and the Patriots right now.
Those people should watch the movie A Bronx’s Tale starring Chazz Palminteri. When a little boy says he feels bad for Mickey Mantle, Palminteri’s character says, “Mickey Mantle? Is that what you’re upset about? Mickey Mantle makes $100,000 a year. How much does your father make? You don’t know? Well, see if your father can’t pay the rent go ask Mickey Mantle and see what he tells you. Mickey Mantle don’t care about you, so why should you care about him? Nobody cares.”
Only everyone does seem to care about Tom Brady and is eagerly awaiting the news regarding his appeal to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, even if his base salary for the 2014-15 season was $14,800,000. And if you were wondering what happened to the two equipment staffers involved in the team’s Deflategate scandal, both were suspended indefinitely by the New England Patriots. Let’s see if ‘Tom Terrific’ comes to their aid when it’s time for them to pay their rent.