Tom Brady and “Deflate-gate” — The Penalty Phase

 

brady_CBS Sports imageThe NFL is now weighing sanctions against Tom Brady, following the completion of its “Deflate-gate” investigation and the issuance of a long report. It’s a perfect, lighter-than-air cheating scandal for fans to ponder during the long off-season.

Per the rules, a proper NFL game football “shall be made up of an inflated (12.5 to 13.5 pounds per square inch) urethane bladder enclosed in a pebble grained, leather case (natural tan color) without corrugations of any kind.” Brady’s New England Patriots were caught using balls which later tested out as low as a relatively Charmin-soft 10.5 psi. That is one soft urethane bladder!

So in an NFL where players recently have been up to things like homicide, spousal/girlfriend abuse, and excessive parental discipline, here comes the league going after its best quarterback, maybe ever, for getting locker room attendants to test the lower limits of ball-inflation requirements before the AFC Championship game with the Indianapolis Colts.

The accused “deflators” are Jim McNally, the Official Locker Room attendant for the Patriots, and John Jastremski, an equipment assistant for the team. Video evidence suggests McNally may have secretly deflated the balls in a rest room in the stadium tunnel after they had passed inspection. There are also text messages between McNally and Jastremski about the tips/incentives (autographed memorabilia) allegedly sought from Brady for letting air out of the game balls. In one preseason text, McNally refers to himself as “the deflator” and (jokingly?) quips a threat to rat out the operation to ESPN. The whole sordid affair makes you wish Larry Gelbart were still alive to turn it into an HBO movie. (Any casting suggestions for McNally and Jastremski? Josh Gad and Zach Galifianakis?)

The NFL couldn’t prove definitively that Brady asked that balls be illegally under-inflated. He just let his preferences be well known, wink-wink, nudge-nudge. The Colts, routed in the game 45-7, complained, and the media took it from there.

Is this enough to pin a suspension on Brady? After all, the Paul, Weiss law firm “Deflategate” report is 243 pages long, so the league has got to do something. It was a championship game and they did break the rules. Should the Patriots lose a future first-round draft pick? What’s fair here? And how did this scandal get so big?

Is there possibly a bit of envy at play, and a chance to taint the legacy of Brady and four time Super Bowl-winning Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick? The coach was cleared in this investigation, but has been known to test the limits of rules on other occasions. The media don’t exactly shower him with love, perhaps because his surly press conference demeanor evokes Richard Nixon on a bad day, in a sweaty hoodie.

If you were on the NFL jury, how would you sentence Tom Brady? Time served? Community service; say autographing a thousand footballs for poor kids in Roxbury? Just remember, if you sentence him to missing four Patriots’ games next season as some have suggested, he’ll be spending those Sunday afternoons with his supermodel wife Gisele Bundchen. A sterner punishment might be sending him to work in an icy stadium, and making sure he gets snapped nothing but winter-hard 13.5-psi footballs all season long.

There are 19 comments.

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  1. Pilli Inactive
    Pilli
    @Pilli

    Make the Patriots play with out one offensive guard the whole season? #sackBrady

    Make Brady play with a bicycle helmet this season?  #stillahelmet

    Make the Patriots play with footballs inflated to 16 PSI this season?  #throwarock

    • #1
  2. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    Change the rule that Manning and Brady lobbied for in 2006.  Small fine.  This is all a damn joke other than the lying part.

    Manning does this too, by the way, but since his hemoglobin cures cancer there won’t be a mention of him.

    • #2
  3. Illiniguy Member
    Illiniguy
    @Illiniguy

    DocJay:Change the rule that Manning and Brady lobbied for in 2006. Small fine. This is all a damn joke other than the lying part.

    Manning does this too, by the way, but since his hemoglobin cures cancer there won’t be a mention of him.

    Jeez, talk about being a homer!

    • #3
  4. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    Illiniguy:

    DocJay:Change the rule that Manning and Brady lobbied for in 2006. Small fine. This is all a damn joke other than the lying part.

    Manning does this too, by the way, but since his hemoglobin cures cancer there won’t be a mention of him.

    Jeez, talk about being a homer!

    Read my article about this on the member feed for a more accurate view of my perspective.  The comments from the Rico gang are hilarious.  I also like my article better ;-)

    • #4
  5. Eric Hines Inactive
    Eric Hines
    @EricHines

    I have a couple of problems with this whole deflategate thing.

    First, Is this enough to pin a suspension on Brady? Not even close.  There’s not even enough to do anything to the two low-level employees. The report doesn’t accuse anyone of wrong-doing; it just says, “likely.”  Innuendo isn’t enough.

    Related to that, and here I write from august heights as a small-time QB at a small college in that college’s IM program, of course Brady knew the balls were flat, and so did his receivers.  Hands really are sensitive enough to feel a soft ball.  Brady should have spoken up, but he let his paycheck trump his ethics.  And so did his receivers.

    The other thing brings in facts not in evidence.  Much of the outside commentary on the matter centers on the fact that the Colts got whipped so the cheating had no impact.  (In fact, the Colts did even worse in the second half, after the balls had been properly reflated.)  And that’s the problem.  The cheating occurred, the balls were under-inflated by a significant amount.  That’s wrong.  Whether it impacted the game or not is wholly irrelevant.

    To answer OP’s question, though: all three–Brady and the two low-level employees–walk.

    One answer that suits me is to have the refs bring the game balls, and have both teams play with the same ones, not their own.

    Eric Hines

    • #5
  6. user_989419 Inactive
    user_989419
    @ProbableCause

    Am I the only one, or does anyone else find it weird that each team brings their own balls?  Seriously, is this a pickup game?  Why doesn’t the league bring the balls?

    [ Immediate edit below ]

    Sorry Eric — your last sentence answers my question.  I’m not the only one.

    • #6
  7. Rachel Lu Contributor
    Rachel Lu
    @RachelLu

    I’m doubtful about assessing a serious penalty without solid proof of what Brady knew when. But I don’t think it’s strange that this “got so big”. They deliberately broke the rules, in a championship game, and then lied about it. The Patriots have been caught breaking rules before.  And then they won the Super Bowl. The whole thing stinks.

    • #7
  8. Jim Kearney Contributor
    Jim Kearney
    @JimKearney

    Rachel Lu:They deliberately broke the rules, in a championship game, and then lied about it. The Patriots have been caught breaking rules before. And then they won the Super Bowl. The whole thing stinks.

    Well I’m a Giants fan, so I understand the intent. When you’ve got a QB who wins multiple Super Bowls, you really shouldn’t need in-house bribes to get him what he needs.

    It’s a silly rule, IMHO. Years ago I caught a football in the (well-padded) midsection from a guy with a real arm and let me tell you, you could break your ribs.

    So I’m for leniency. Be different if he were with the Eagles, of course.

    • #8
  9. Jim Kearney Contributor
    Jim Kearney
    @JimKearney

    DocJay:

     I also like my article better ;-)

    … if you must say so yourself. And why not?

    In your article the bit about with how your wife adores Tom nicely sets up the close, with your wife handing you a Brady jersey before bed. Nice writing, and you tastefully avoid referencing the league trading deadline.

    • #9
  10. user_139157 Inactive
    user_139157
    @PaulJCroeber

    The league office is so full of it’s own skeletons that they will never hand down a punishment of significance, nor should they.  I’m thinking he is suspended for all but the last preseason game and will be free to play the season itself.

    • #10
  11. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @EustaceCScrubb

    “So in an NFL where players recently have been up to things like homicide, spousal/girlfriend abuse, and excessive parental discipline, here comes the league going after its best quarterback, maybe ever, for getting locker room attendants to test the lower limits of ball-inflation requirements before the AFC Championship game with the Indianapolis Colts.”

    Yeah, homicide is a bad thing, but it is off the field. Pete Rose’s betting was not as bad as the violence and racism of Ty Cobb, but Rose’s gambling touched on the integrity of the game. Deflate gate is silly, but it’s about the integrity of the game.

    • #11
  12. user_3444 Coolidge
    user_3444
    @JosephStanko

    Jim Kearney: here comes the league going after its best quarterback, maybe ever

    Maybe the 2nd best.  Joe Montana didn’t need to break the rules to win 4 Super Bowls.

    • #12
  13. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Boy, this really lets the air out of the Brady mystique, huh? And what an arcane game, that you have to play with a full bladder. Man, I bet those guys can’t wait for halftime.

    • #13
  14. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    Is there any actual evidence that Brady did anything wrong at all?  Seems like they are long on innuendo and short on evidence.

    • #14
  15. Jim Kearney Contributor
    Jim Kearney
    @JimKearney

    Joseph Stanko:

    Jim Kearney: here comes the league going after its best quarterback, maybe ever

    Maybe the 2nd best. Joe Montana didn’t need to break the rules to win 4 Super Bowls.

    I was hoping that little maybe would stir the pot. There are passers better than either, correct? So it comes down to the intangibles? A winning season is a team effort, and a reflection of the coach. Winning the “Big Game” is too, but so central is the role of a QB to the offense that doing so repeatedly carries a lot of weight.

    So … Terry Bradshaw, Montana, Brady. Big game winners all. Does Montana outrank Marino, Elway, the Mannings, Favre, and Rodgers? You tell me.

    I can talk about an earlier era, when most quarterbacks outside of Cleveland called their own plays. I’m too young to remember Sammy Baugh and Otto Graham. I did see Norm Van Brocklin at his peak, and I can tell you that Y.A. Tittle and Johnny Unitas surpassed him.

    Bart Starr and Johnny Unitas were the great championship game quarterbacks of the immediately post-Otto Graham era. Unitas was a precision passer of the first order. Starr was a highly competent play-calling field general under Vince Lombardi, a commander-in-chief who effectively used aerial assault in support of boots on the ground. Starr:Lombardi::Graham:Paul Brown. So Unitas ranks above Starr.

    But what about Y.A. Tittle, Joe Namath, Len Dawson, Fran Tarkenton, Sonny Jurgensen, Roger Staubach? Tittle illustrates the difficulty of separating a QB’s ranking from his team’s.

    Y.A. played for middling teams and under systems and coaches that didn’t take full advantage of a pure drop-back passer. Like Jurgensen, who sat on the bench behind Van Brocklin in Philly, Tittle found himself sharing playing time with John Brodie. Then at age 34 he was traded to the Giants and hit a three year long peak which took full advantage of his passing skills. If the Giants hadn’t cut Don Maynard back in 1959, Tittle would have won three NFL titles, and the Lombardi trophy might have another name.

    Neither Unitas nor Tittle was very mobile, but that was fine behind Jim Parker and Rosey Brown. Fran Tarkenton introduced mobility to quarterbacking. Teams with weak offensive lines valued him greatly, but those teams don’t get to title games. Dawson and Staubach each perfectly matched to their coaches’ systems: Dawson to innovative Hank Stram; Navy grad Staubach to the disciplined squads of Tom Landry. All were great quarterbacks in their own way, but Joe Namath had a better arm than any of them. Namath was the Mickey Mantle of mid-century quarterbacks, a New York superstar with seriously deficient knees.

    We remember Unitas and Namath best because they won the two most important pro football games ever played. Does that put them in the class of Bradshaw, Montana, and Brady as big game quarterbacks? Absolutely. If either of them had four years of Vince Lombardi instead of Weeb Eubank, they’d have four championships themselves. Well, Unitas would. Namath would certainly be remembered for a shorter haircut.

    • #15
  16. Lorenzo Inactive
    Lorenzo
    @Lorenzo

    I just got into an argument about this yesterday, at, of all places, my daughter’s ballet studio. As I rehashed the same old arguments about “acceptable parameters” and “cold weather” and “forty-five to seven,” etc., it struck me that being a Patriots fan is a lot like being a conservative:

    With little or no evidence, adversaries bend over backward to find the most nefarious interpretations for any action; they enlist slipshod “science” to support their claims; they have their preconceptions and prejudices reinforced by the “lick-spittle media;” they claim you “didn’t earn that” Championship/prosperity/freedom/what-have-you; and they ignore the real rot all around them.

    • #16
  17. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    Lorenzo:I just got into an argument about this yesterday, at, of all places, my daughter’s ballet studio. As I rehashed the same old arguments about “acceptable parameters” and “cold weather” and “forty-five to seven,” etc., it struck me that being a Patriots fan is a lot like being a conservative:

    With little or no evidence, adversaries bend over backward to find the most nefarious interpretations for any action; they enlist slipshod “science” to support their claims; they have their preconceptions and prejudices reinforced by the “lick-spittle media;” they claim you “didn’t earn that” Championship/prosperity/freedom/what-have-you; and they ignore the real rot all around them.

    As a not-even-a-football-fan I agree with this.

    • #17
  18. Richard O'Shea Coolidge
    Richard O'Shea
    @RichardOShea

    While the PSI of the ball wouldn’t have made any difference in the score of the Colts game, it could have made a difference the week before when they barely beat the Ravens.

    Rumor has it that the Ravens alerted the Colts of the suspiciously deflated balls.

    • #18
  19. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    Joe Flacco going deep with a minute left when he had been moving the ball through the short game cost the Ravens that game. The ball issue became known during the Jets game earlier in the season. The league, instead of saying something , ran a sting.
    A league with rampant narcotic addiction and illegal narcotic trafficking ran a sting on mildly deflated balls. A league with a huge concussion problem they’re sweeping under the rug did this in the name of integrity. Perspective, there it is.

    • #19
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