Deflategate. If you follow the NFL, you became very familiar with this term over the summer. New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady was accused of knowingly using deflated balls in the AFC Championship game, in which the Patriots romped to a 45–7 victory against their opponents, the Indianapolis Colts.
Now, I don’t believe for a second that these balls were the deciding factor in that game; the Colts were vastly outmatched by the Patriots prolific offense.
However, whether or not that was the deciding factor in the game is irrelevant. Tom Brady should have served a four game suspension to open the season because using the deflated balls is against the rules of NFL play.
I full-heartedly believe that any violation of the rules of play should go punished. No one is above the law, and these rules are in place to make the initial playing field level. If you can’t win within the rules of the game, you don’t deserve to win because you can’t claim to be the best at the game. You’re merely the best at an adaptation of the game that is biased to suit your abilities.
That being said, it still wasn’t clear whether or not the NFL would go through with handing out the suspension. A major factor in NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision to do so was the revelation that Brady had destroyed his phone after the incident.
Conveniently, the phone that Brady was using during the time that could have contained information in correspondence with his equipment managers was broken and inaccessible.
Why did Brady destroy his phone? He claims it to be a regular practice when he breaks his phone or a new version comes out. Destroying the old phone is his standard procedure.
When questioned by Goodell, Brady admitted that in instances besides those, it is not regular practice for him to destroy his phone. He then failed to give either of those two instances as a reason for destroying his phone in this case.
If he was innocent, wouldn’t it have made more sense to keep the phone? He would have had a clear case to present to say that he had no contact with the equipment managers about the deflation of the balls. His ability to present his old messages would have been indisputable evidence in his case, and the issue could have easily been dropped.
As I see it, Brady is certainly guilty, and should have served a suspension. I don’t just say that as someone who has never been a fan of Tom Brady. I’m a Denver Broncos fan, and if this same case was brought against Peyton Manning, I would not back his innocence. I truly believe that Brady did something wrong, and ought to be punished.
Yet, when the case was taken before a judge, the decision was made to vacate the suspension. I couldn’t disagree more with this decision, but there’s an argument I’ve heard from Patriots supporters that particularly frustrates me.
That argument goes along the lines of “it wouldn’t have mattered if he was suspended or not, the Patriots would have won those games anyways.”
Hold on a minute. There are multiple things wrong with that argument that I’d like to address. The first being the intent to dismiss the whole issue of deflategate. As stated above, I don’t believe that Brady is innocent, and believe he should serve a suspension.
Secondly, saying that their star player’s presence or lack thereof in four games wouldn’t have an effect on the outcome is incredibly ignorant. Let’s take a look at the four games Brady would have missed.
In week 1, the Patriots won a close game against the Steelers by a single touchdown. In week two, they defeated the Bills by 8. They rolled over the Jaguars 51–17 in week 3, and beat the Cowboys 30–6 in week 4.
Despite not being a fan of Brady, I still consider him to be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, second to only Aaron Rodgers. He brings a lot of talent to the table. The games against the Steelers and Bills were greatly affected by his presence.
He can engineer drives that an average quarterback could only dream of. He has the highest quarterback rating in the NFL at this point, and has yet to throw an interception. Had he thrown an interception in one of the Patriots scoring drives in weeks 1 or 2, the Patriots could have lost the game.
Backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo would undoubtedly have thrown at least one interception at this point in the season, as even the other great quarterbacks in the league have thrown a few.
Yet, because Brady wasn’t given his rightful suspension, the Patriots currently sit in first place of the AFC East with an undefeated record. If the Patriots two games of the season had resulted in losses behind a backup quarterback, a 2–2 record would only be good for third place in the division.
Brady’s lack of suspension can’t be dismissed as irrelevant to the results of the season, and his lack of reasonable defense against the accusations against him offers nothing to convince me of his innocence.