After four months of forgetting about deflated balls, the Wells reports comes out and hints very clearly that Tom Brady knew and maybe even was behind the violation, with the help Jim McNally and John Jastremski, something that has probably been going on for more than just that game with the Indianapolis Colts.
The report (which you can review it in fullness) does clear the team, the owner and head coach Bill Belichick of any wrongdoing or knowledge of what happened. But when you go back to Brady’s weird press conference leading up to the Super Bowl, to learn that he was pretty much the only one who didn’t cooperate with the investigation, and to see the text messages between the trio mentioned above, it’s hard to think of Brady as innocent in all of this.
What will the NFL do? The official fine or punishment for ball tampering in the league is $25,000. The Wells report also didn’t clearly point its finger at Brady. It was more of a subtle accusation, using very legal accurate language in order to make it as vague as possible that they’re blaming Brady and the two Patriots employees for the whole situation.
But does it even matter? It probably all depends on your view of the Patriots and Brady. As cheaters, as a person, as a quarterback, as an organization. Many think that the whole deflategate or ballghazi is meaningless and simply the media stirring up controversy where there is none. But the league has no interest in putting a stain on a Super Bowl champion, which has the ‘Spygate’ thing hovering above it as long as Belichick keeps coaching the team.
And Brady himself? Winning a fourth Super Bowl made him equal with Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw. Maybe the greatest quarterback of all-time. And while there were plenty of people who dislike Brady just for being very good and not shying away from a luxurious, in front of the cameras lifestyle, he had no blemishes on his “personal record”. A great quarterback, who might be an arrogant guy, but he was never part of the “cheating” mob. Now there’s probably a stain on him, and maybe on that Super Bowl win. Not great for the integrity of the league. Would have things been different had Brady been suspended before the Super Bowl as punishment, as far as legitimacy is concerned? The test of time will tell.
And now? His legacy is possibly tarnished, for good. Again, it probably depends on how much you liked him and the Patriots to begin with. But while this vague accusation might be all there is to the case and it’ll be the last we hear about it from the league and investigators, the damage has been done. Brady will be labeled by many as a cheater, even if it was for one of the more insignificant things ever to come up and take over headlines before a Super Bowl and as it turns out, almost four months later.