Maybe the evidence from the Wells reports is circumstantial, but there’s no doubt Tom Brady was more than just an innocent bystander with a conspiracy against him. He might be a great, legendary quarterback. But he’s also one that cheated, got caught, and will forever be marked with that notoriety.
There are two separate questions to this whole ordeal. One of them is whether or not there was actually cheating, and it’s pretty clear that there was, even if it’s not part of an entire organizational corruption and decay but simply two equipment guys and a player. The other question is whether any of this matters at all.
The league is going to punish Brady and maybe the team in some way. How? For how long? By how much? The rumors go from an entire season to a game or two with a substantial fine of around $25,000. The team itself? Probably off the hook, although Roger Goodell loves to say that not knowing doesn’t let anyone off the hook, like he did with Sean Payton and the Bountygate scandal. However, Goodell didn’t use that same judgement on himself when the league screwed up the whole Ray Rice violence incident.
As for Brady, his name and his legacy? There’s an asterisk over this Super Bowl win, just like there are over the first three. Obviously, no one is taking the titles away and for Patriots fans, especially them, none of this actually matters. To them, the whole world is against them and the league is simply sacrificing their name and heritage to protect all the other offenders who may or may not be out there.
The Patriots would have beaten the Colts without tampering with the air pressure inside the balls. The Super Bowl was won because of that last play, goal line interception, not inflated or deflated footballs. But most fans want their champions to be clean, at least inside the confines of the sport itself. Brady was one of the guys who seemed to keep clear of controversy, even when it had to do with his own team. But no more, no longer. There are many who’ll remember the Patriots as cheating champions. Once it was because of their coach, now it’ll also be the quarterback who is thrown into that insult.