Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Patriots QB Tom Brady Has Only Himself to Blame

Up front, long before the air started hissing out of his charmed world, Tom Brady should have taken a knee. He should have confessed his venial football sin and admitted to everyone that his never-ending pursuit of a competitive edge got the better of him.

OK, so maybe he should have waited to confess until sometime after the Super Bowl, just in case Roger Goodell had it in him to bench the big star for the big game. But either way, Brady should have come clean about the improper deflation of his AFC Championship Game footballs and then banked on the American public's unbreakable ability to forgive and (pretty much) forget.

Although he enjoys top-of-the-line legal representation and his lawyers will file a brilliantly written lawsuit, Tom Brady's effort to stop his suspension is doomed.

Many teams, players, coaches and executives have run afoul of the NFL's rules. Check out the most recent examples here.

Alex Rodriguez disgraced himself and his sport in ways Brady never has and never will, and now there are millions of New Yorkers itching to throw the revived and allegedly reformed slugger a parade. Did one of the two greatest quarterbacks of all time really believe his standing among New England Patriots fans -- and among neutral observers worldwide who simply appreciate self-made masters of their trade -- couldn't survive the plain truth about Deflategate?

Bill Belichick survived Spygate; he's up there with Vince Lombardi among the all-timers. Brady is up there with his idol, Joe Montana, and his decision to destroy a cell phone that likely implicated him in a low-rent scheme with two team flunkies doesn't destroy his legacy as a four-time champ.

But it does make Brady look like a liar. A liar in this case, anyway. In announcing his ruling to uphold Brady's four-game suspension, Goodell said the quarterback had his personal assistant do an end zone dance on his phone on or around the same March day Brady met with the investigators who already had asked to see relevant texts and emails on that phone.

Brady didn't reveal he'd effectively deleted nearly 10,000 texts over a four-month period until days before his 10-hour appeal hearing on June 23. According to the NFL ruling, he said the destruction of old cell phones was merely a part of his normal routine, like warming up with Julian Edelman and Gronk. But on page 12 of Goodell's 20-page decision, the commissioner points out that the phone Brady used before the one in question was intact and available for a forensic expert to review. "No explanation was provided for this anomaly," Goodell wrote.Tom Brady missed an opportunity to save face -- and he has only himself to blame.

Brady hasn't offered a credible explanation in this case from the start, and for good reason: He doesn't have one. The Ted Wells probe turned up enough circumstantial evidence for a common-sense, agenda-free reader to conclude what Montana and Troy Aikman and their combined seven rings and two Hall of Fame busts concluded in the early hours of this mess: Brady had to have known what those two Patriots staffers, or Watergate burglars, were doing to his footballs.

Goodell cited Brady's quarterback-room meeting and numerous cell-phone conversations with John Jastremski after the allegations surfaced; the quarterback had no such meeting or conversations with the equipment assistant during the regular season. Jim McNally, the officials' locker room attendant and the man believed to have taken a 100-second bathroom break with New England's AFC Championship Game balls, also makes a return appearance in the commissioner's decision as the self-described "Deflator."

Of course, we already knew about Jastremski and McNally. We also knew that Wells had offered to allow Brady's agent to screen his phone before turning over texts and emails to investigators, and that Goodell's lieutenant, Troy Vincent, had noted in the May announcement of the quarterback's suspension his refusal to cooperate despite "extraordinary safeguards by the investigators to protect unrelated personal information."

We didn't know Brady had crushed the phone in question like, you know, he'd crushed the Indianapolis Colts.

by Ian O'Connor, ESPN | Read more:
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