Tom Brady Was Innocent…But That’s Not the Real Issue

(Note: Although I’m literally years late in commenting on Deflategate, I figured better late than never. Also, we’re coming up on the two year anniversary of Deflategate, so in some ways, it’s seems like an appropriate time to talk about these issues.)

I’ll admit that I am far from unbiased when it comes to anything related to the New England Patriots. I grew up a huge Patriots fan and still vehemently follow and support them. So maybe I am not the best person to speak on the issue – I’m definitely not the most objective. However, I contend that Deflategate and the Patriots in general are very polarizing issues, so you’re unlikely to get commentary that is completely unbiased. And unlike many of the journalists that covered this topic, I am clearly stating my bias from the beginning, instead of trying to appear objective and neutral.

This is not intended to be an extensive report on this topic. If you want to read ALL of the facts of the matter and become an expert on this topic, I would point you “The Wells Report in Context,” which is a site created by the Patriots to respond to many of these *false* attacks. My intent, through this post, is to outline some of the main issues and point you all to various other resources so that you at least have to opportunity to become more educated on the topic. So, first things first:

  1. The NFL never cared about PSI levels and still doesn’t care. Let’s get this straight, if the NFL REALLY cared about PSI levels, they wouldn’t give an arbitrary range of PSI levels for teams to use. If cheating in this area was such a big concern, they wouldn’t blatantly disregard comments made by other NFL teams/players about football alteration. If PSI levels in footballs was a legitimate issue, the NFL would’ve actually recorded and kept data on PSI levels in 2015 in order to at least appear like they care about this issue. So let’s not pretend this has been an big issue over the years. The NFL gave this range of PSI, because they wanted quarterbacks to prepare footballs in a way that they liked in order to make the game more high scoring and entertaining. Nobody knew or even cared about PSI until Deflategate came up.
  2. The initial reports on PSI levels were completely erroneous. This is a well known fact, but is somehow completely ignored by many individuals when discussing Deflategate. The first tweet on this issue stated that 11 out of 12 Patriots footballs were under inflated by significant amounts. This tweet set the tone for the initial coverage and the responses to these allegations. Given the severity of these accusations, the Patriots were forced to figure out some way to respond to these charges, which were shown to be almost completely false six months later. But letting false ideas be considered and believed for six months can have serious effects, even when those same ideas are shown to be wrong in the future. These false reports did a lot to sway public opinion in the immediate future.
  3. Tom Brady behaved suspiciously, but that does not prove his guilt. I will admit that there are some things about this whole procedure that confuse me. The fact that Brady destroyed his phone around the time of the investigation is bizarre and admittedly seems suspicious. I’m not a celebrity and I don’t know how they handle their communication, but I wouldn’t say Brady’s reasoning for destroying his phone was terrible. That being said, the fact is we don’t have his phone, we never saw what was on it, and we can only speculate what he might have been trying to hide. This behavior is odd, suspicious, but far from conclusive. It would have been nice if people could have withheld judgment until more evidence came out.
  4. The entire NFL investigation process was a scam. Honestly, if the NFL hopes to maintain any appearance of credibility going forward they need to figure out how to investigate issues in an independent manner. It’s no secret that Ted Wells was not independent when he investigated this issue and that the NFL edited his report before it was published. Having Roger Goodell try to act as arbitrator after bringing these accusations against Brady and the Patriots is quite laughable for those who care at all about due process or fairness. There is definitely a legitimate and widespread concern that Goodell has far too much power and if the NFL wants to remain credible, they need to change these types of processes going forward. And this is hardly an isolated mistake on Goodell’s resumé. He has a history of totally mishandling issues likes these.

At the end of the day, Deflategate was not about Brady’s guilt or innocence, although I would argue that no conclusive evidence was shown to prove his guilt. The primary issues in the Deflategate saga were: poor journalism swaying public opinion, extreme public biases against the New England Patriots, and a terrible, unfair investigation process. This was a blatant smear job! Although I’m sure irreversible damage was done to Brady’s image and public opinion of the Patriots, Goodell actually succeeded in making himself less likable than he already was.

If you hate Tom Brady and think he was guilty, here’s a link to help you come to terms with your feelings. I know these beliefs are often deeply rooted and if you’re a fan of the Jets, Ravens, Bills, Colts, Dolphins or various other teams, there is likely no way that I can change your mind. And I’m okay with that. Hopefully this post has broadened your knowledge on these issues and created or reinforced a distaste for Roger Goodell’s managerial behavior.

If you’re a Patriots’ fan I hope this post provided you with some level of comfort and vindication. At the end of the day our team’s best response to outside hate and jealousy is to keep doing what they’ve been doing for 15 years – winning. Here’s to getting that fifth ring!

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Regardless of your stance on this divisive issue, I would love for you to comment on this post or send me an email (unless you’re a Jets’ fan… just kidding). Thanks for reading!