Another lesson for Brady, Patriots: Don’t cheat, don’t lie

Tom Brady has consistently denied any knowledge of footballs being partially deflated. (AP photo)

New England quarterback Tom Brady has consistently denied knowledge of footballs being deflated. (AP photo)

New England quarterback Tom Brady has consistently denied knowledge of footballs being deflated. (AP photo)

(Updated: 8:20 p.m.)

It’s important to understand that what happened Monday does not elevate Tom Brady to the level of sports’ most scorned cheaters. His statistical accomplishments were not artificially enhanced to the extent of baseball’s lab creations — Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Braun, Rodriguez — he didn’t ruin lives like Lance Armstrong and he didn’t jump in front of a pack like somebody else in Boston, Rosie Ruiz.

We don’t even know for certain that throwing a slightly under-inflated football is even that big of a deal. But then neither was taping another team’s hand signals, and the New England Patriots did that, too.

There are rules against these things. Brady and the Patriots have proven to be accomplished at not only breaking the rules but acting stunned and apoplectic when it’s suggested they were operating at less-than-kosher levels.

They got smacked in the face Monday — and they deserved it.

“DeflateGate” — an otherwise mild sports scandal that inflated to implausible levels — came down like a sledgehammer. Brady was suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season (pending an appeal). The Patriots, who lost a first-round pick in 2008 for taping an opponent’s hand signals, was stripped of another No. 1 pick Monday in the 2016 draft and will lose a fourth-rounder in 2017. The Patriots also will be fined $1 million, relative nickels for Robert Kraft, whose franchise is valued at $2.6 billion.

This is all because an “independent” investigation — the NFL commissioned the Wells’ report, so the degree of independence is up for debate — determined that it was “more probable than not” that Brady orchestrated Patriot team footballs being deflated before the AFC championship game against Indianapolis. Despite an apparent lack of cooperation from Brady and the Patriots, the 243-page document produced by the Wells report included some fascinating details of when and how footballs alleged were deflated. There also was a text exchange between locker room attendants Jim McNally and John Jastremski, when McNally referred to himself as “The Deflator” and texted Jastremski: “Chill buddy I’m just (messing)  with you. I’m not going to ESPN…yet.”

McNally reportedly had been getting shoes and autographs for his duties and the exchange certainly suggested this wasn’t a one-time deal.

This was systematic cheating, even if many are dismissing the significance of the act itself.

Here are the most notable aspects of the penalties that come out of “DelfateGate,” in my view:

• Brady, the NFL’s “Golden Boy,” is not above reproach. He can be handcuffed by Sheriff Goodell like everybody else. There would have been an outcry from many players if the NFL chose not to punish one of the faces of the league after coming down on so many players of lesser stature for other issues.

• There’s little question the league came down hard on the Patriots and their star player at least in part because it believed none of the principles would fully cooperate with the investigative process: Brady, team officials and coaches or locker room officials.

•  The Patriots’ history of cheating (“Spygate”) almost certainly played a role.

The penalties should not as a surprise. The Falcons lost a fifth-round draft pick for piping in fake crowd noise into a dead stadium — and owner Arthur Blank admitted it and never obstructed the investigation in any way. Did you really believe commissioner Roger Goodell would let Brady and New England off easy?

Some of the language used by NFL vice president Troy Vincent underscored the league’s feelings about the Patriots. He referenced the “Integrity of the Game Policy” and said “prior violation of competitive rules was properly considered in determining the discipline in this case. Another important consideration identified in the Policy is ‘the extent to which the club and relevant individuals cooperated with the investigation.’”

He referenced the failure of McNally to fully cooperate and Brady “to produce any electronic evidence (emails, texts, etc.), despite being offered extraordinary safeguards by the investigators to protect unrelated personal information. Although we do not hold the club directly responsible for Mr. Brady’s refusal to cooperate, it remains significant that the quarterback of the team failed to cooperate fully with the investigation.”

Rules exist for a reason. Rules were broken. Did it play a role in New England’s lopsided win over Indianapolis? No — just as throwing legally inflated footballs clearly didn’t inhibit Brady in the Super Bowl. But to focus on that is focusing on the wrong thing.

Don Yee, Brady’s combustible agent,  said the Wells’ report will be “exposed” on appeal, whatever that means. “The discipline is ridiculous and has no legitimate basis,” he said in a statement. “…The NFL has a well-documented history of making poor disciplinary decisions that often are overturned when truly independent and neutral judges or arbitrators preside.”

Actually, there is some truth to that latter statement. Goodell has looked bad in more than a few cases recently, notably the Ray Rice domestic abuse case.

Playing with a slightly deflated football obviously don’t rise to that level. But the Patriots have a tendency to believe that rules don’t apply to them. The punishment was justified.

Recent ramblings
— MyAJC: Jalen Collins determined to make Falcons’ pick look good
— AJC: Wall’s injury shifts odds in Hawks’ favor for game, series
— MyAJC: Braves’ McDowell trying to repair some damaged egos
— AJC: Brady’s agent suggests ‘sting operation’ by NFL, Colts. Really?
— AJC: Pats, Brady clearly cheated and Bob Kraft is in denial
— MyAJC: Hawks survive but they didn’t make it easy
— AJC: Short takes: Wall’s status uncertain, late defense keys win
— MyAJC: Here we go again: Hawks let one slip away
— AJC: Short takes: Hawks go cold, blow double-digit lead in Game 1
— MyAJC: Teague is Hawks’ key to going deep in playoffs
— AJC: No shortage of stars but Hawks’ clincher started with Teague
— MyAJC: Finally, the good Hawks show up for series clincher
— AJC: On Falcons’ draft, trading up, Bruce Irvin and Gurley question
— MyAJC: Dan Quinn determined to fix pass rush after past Falcons’ whiffs
— MyAJC: Hawks’ regular-season afterglow is long gone
— MyAJC: Hawks being visited by ghosts of playoffs past

 

Reader Comments 0

104 comments
Kimberly Rizzi
Kimberly Rizzi

LOL. If under inflated footballs weren't a big deal or didn't make a difference Brady wouldnt have bribed league employees with $40,000 in signed NFL gifts to deflate NE game balls!!!

The first paragraphs of this article are asinine!

I can't stop laughing.

RichardKPE
RichardKPE

I have a very important question.  When a kicker takes a ball from an official, squeezes it and presses it against the ground to force some of the air out, how many games will he get suspended?

Kimberly Rizzi
Kimberly Rizzi

THAT is a "very important question?"

It's more like a really stupid question.

Comparing that (if it's even been done) with taking game balls after inspection by refs and letting 1/4 of the air out are NOT even remotely similar!

I still can't stop laughing.

stogiefogey
stogiefogey

Tom's a great QB but an artful liar he's not. Anyone who can read body language and demeanor can sense he's not entirely on the level with this. Just appeal, serve out the penalty, whatever, but stop holding press conferences. 

JSSN
JSSN

@stogiefogey

"Tom's a great QB but an artful liar he's not."

Bridget Moynahan and Gisele Bundchen, sure you don't want to rephrase that one?

TrueFalconFan
TrueFalconFan

@stogiefogey   Sir, whoever you "R" – I’m here to tell you have "ZERO" clue with reference to Tom Brady.

If or when Atlanta Falcons ever put a legitimate product on the field, then let's hear what you have to say....Until then get a handle on life!!!

Go Falcons 

the doc is back
the doc is back

kraft and bill left brady out to dry on this one. they played a chess game and let him walk the plank. the nfl didnt blink so brady got the consequences not the organization. kraft could have accepted responsibility for it as it is his team, said, sorry, we were overly enthusiastic and let it go. poor judgment to do otherwise. 


they were guilty. caught red handed just as a cfo would for financial theft after an auditor found discrepancies. he cant just throw his hands up and say, have no clue how that happened in the organization. 


kraft let his star take it on the chin. wonder why? that is a better story. denial when guilty doesnt work. the onus was on the pats to do the splainin on how it came down not the other way around. this is a corporation and it isnt a criminal trial.

shep2121
shep2121

Tom Brady is nothing but a plain old cheat.

Tom Evans
Tom Evans

A fifth for Atlanta's definite cheating and a first and fourth and four games for the Pats' "more probable than not" cheating.

REGAN1966
REGAN1966

What happened to Morals, Values and Integrity in the US?

Why are so many of you defending this LACK of Character?

goblue86
goblue86

ATL89  You do understand, don't you, that there might just be a slight difference in letting some air out of a ball to gain a competitive advantage and a bounty that is made for trying to injure other players, right?  Try to keep up.

REGAN1966
REGAN1966

@goblue86 BOTH show a LACK of Integrity & Character.

Your wife/girlfriend just gave a guy a BJ in the bathroom stall. It isn't like she had SEX and got pregnant right?

She just DEFLATED his HO and didn't INJURE anybody right?

reckingball
reckingball

No, the penalty is not justified. It is way too much for this insignificant infraction. You can bet your good money that it will be reduced in the end.

HeyThere
HeyThere

"Did it play a role in New England’s lopsided win over Indianapolis? No"

This is the most talked-about non-story of all time. 

ATL89
ATL89

Suspending Tom Brady for four games for his participation in Deflategate is bad, but that still is not long enough, Johnathan Vilma got suspended an entire season for his participation in Bountygate.....

ChuckinAlpharetta
ChuckinAlpharetta

Most of the severity of the penalty is because:

1. this is not their first go-round when it comes to willfully and enthusiastically breaking the rules

2. As when they recorded the other team's practice sessions, they reacted with anger and all the "how dare you accuse us" stuff we saw this go round.

This is as much a penalty to the Pats as a lesson to be other teams - when the league catches you breaking the rules, fess up and tell us or you will get hammered should the truth come out.

And that's also why I'd be very shocked to see the penalty reduced on appeal.

Steve Morrison
Steve Morrison

@ChuckinAlpharetta Lack of NFL Knowledge make people look stupid..they were busted for filming from wrong location...period ....they were filming hand signal which isnt illegal.....not team practices you moron

Tom Evans
Tom Evans

@ChuckinAlpharetta They never "taped other teams' practice sessions."   Part of the problem with this story is that people around the country just make stuff like that up.    That is not true and you can't cite to anything that says it is true.

Ihateorange
Ihateorange

Agree with the article - the Patriots are slime balls and need the hammer thrown down on them.  Good for Goodell.

JSSN
JSSN

@Ihateorange

What "hammer?" I'm still laughing! Goodell ran as far as he could from this one! You mean good on Troy Vincent (Sarcasm). That 1st round pick is not going to set back the Patriots. 

I guess you are one of those who thought they would fall apart in 2001 when Bledsoe went down?  They cheated and won a "Super Bowl!! yeah they are really being hammered!

Steve Morrison
Steve Morrison

@JSSN @Ihateorange 2001 they cheated and won a SB, please facts only 

if speaking about spygate, you are 5 years off, filming from sideline location was legal then, filming signals have never been illegal,,,dont believe me ...google it

JSSN
JSSN

@Steve Morrison 

Nope, I could give a flying flip about "Spygate" simply because Mike Martz was stupid enough not to walk thru his playbook in public!

I was simply pointing out that Drew Bledsoe was the starter when 2001 opened play, and due to the fact the Jets dropped him like a rag doll did the Brady see the field. Go back and read the "doom and gloom" that was dropped when that happened. Cheat or not, the rest is history! Where do you folks jump to these wild assumptions from? 

Dman
Dman

wow!!! That was a big penalty. Didn't see that coming...

Alberta
Alberta

Great.  Thanks a lot, Jeff.  Now, will you do me a favor - shut up about it and get back to writing about sports in Loserville?

Surelyyoujest
Surelyyoujest

But the good news with this story is that we can retire one more tired sports cliche' - "cheaters never win and winners never cheat"...................................

rogjam
rogjam

You didn't touch on the historically low fumble rates by Patriot running backs since the rule was changed to allow teams to provide their own balls. Surely deflated footballs are less likely to be fumbled and most of the time the team that wins the turnover battle wins the game. There is more than one advantage to deflating a football. I don't believe it would have changed the outcome of the Cots-Pats game, but if you read the text messages sent by the "Deflator", then you can see this was going on all year. 

Tom Evans
Tom Evans

@rogjam Yes, "surely deflated footballs are less likely to be fumbled."


That's why the Colts asked that their footballs be at 13 psi ABOVE THE MINIMUM, so they could fumble more.


And that's why the Packers like highly inflated footballs....because they like to fumble more than necessary.


Could you please think before jumping to silly conclusions....

northbysoutheast
northbysoutheast

C'mon, the NFL knew all about this years ago. Before 2006 only the home team provided game balls. Brady and Peyton Manning lobbied the NFL to allow away teams to be in charge of their own balls. Gee, wonder why? As Brady stated in a 2006 interview "every quarterback likes (footballs) a little bit different. Some like them blown up a little bit more, some like them a little more thin." Since it was the Golden Boys asking, the NFL allowed the rule change. It's like handing a kid a piece of candy and saying "You're not allowed to eat that. Now I'm off to take a nap."

Still, the Patriots got off light. They should be just be thankful that other teams didn't complain sooner (probably because most everybody else was doing the same thing).

Jazzpman
Jazzpman

So making up crowd noise is less cheating ?  Really ?  So the Falcon's were caught and it was proven, was this ?  NO !


Jerry Rice admitted to using sticky stuff, the Super Bowl winning QB for the Buc's admitted to paying $7,000 before the game to get his balls right ?


Please the NFL has screwed how many players over money with injuries ?

Please and the NFL is a Non Profit organization with the head making $25 Million a year Plus ? 

Really not for profit ?

northbysoutheast
northbysoutheast

@Jazzpman lol, Just because you didn't read the report doesn't mean it wasn't proven. Frankly, it's one of the NFL's worst kept secrets. Everybody's known about it for years, but the Colts finally forced the issue because they got humiliated. 

Almost every team has been caught bending (and breaking) the rules some time or other. The difference with the Patriots is that they never own up to it.

NDTaylor77
NDTaylor77

As a Falcons fan, the light penalty for artificial crowd noise, was as embarrassing as the offense itself. The NFL basically said the Falcons are too irrelevant to even bother with a stiff penalty.

Jazzpman
Jazzpman

@NDTaylor77 The light penalty for the Falcon's was about a NEW Stadium. had they not built that then the penalty would have been allot worse then it was.  The NFL plays favorites all the time, and they make so much money, the non for profit status is an absolute joke !

The NFL are also doing their very best to not help the poor guys that today are in much pain because of the sport.  The current commissioner makes way too much money $25 Million a year plus, so the older guys are not getting the help they need.

northbysoutheast
northbysoutheast

@PaulinNH @northbysoutheast First of all, what you and all the other "legal experts" need to understand is that this isn't a criminal court. Nobody has to "prove" anything in the same way that things are proven in a court of law. The language the investigators used in the report was carefully chosen for precisely that reason: they are not a court of law. That said, the proof is still there and you have to be in denial or seriously dense not to see it. In any case, it's more than enough to justify the punishment.

JSSN
JSSN

@northbysoutheast @PaulinNH

And ultimately that is the point that Paul made. "Proof" is not punishment, (punishment) it is the end result. Being ambiguous in defining "guilt" is not cover. That has proven almost every time the NFL has stepped in front an independent arbitrator. That is not lost on the people who get it.

Steve Morrison
Steve Morrison

@northbysoutheast @Jazzpman Belichick admitted to filming from sideline location , that investigation took a whole 3 days...I am not sure if you are just uninformed NFL fan, stupid or just a liar...

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@northbysoutheast 

"Proven"???  Now who hasn't read the report?

Since when did the words "more than probable" mean "proven"?

Do I think they cheated?  Yes.  Was it proven?  No

Tom Evans
Tom Evans

@northbysoutheast @Jazzpman Read Florio.    Wells' own experts told him that the deflation from pregame reading to half time WAS entirely explained by weather.    So Wells then "decided" that Walt Anderson "must have" been WRONG about which gauge he used.   BUT that anderson was RIGHT about the readings he took with "that" gauge.


Read Florio's report and then tell me you still believe Wells was impartial and got it right.   I dare you

Sparky8368
Sparky8368

The NFL to me is basically like the WWE. It's all scripted. I'm done watching the NFL. When the NFL commissioner is BFFs with the leagues dirtiest team's owner how can he be unbiased? Belichek will always be a cheater. Brady may have more rings than Montana but the 49ers didn't need to bend the rules to their breaking points. Belicheat and Brady, the most successful cheater duo in the NFL. NFL has no integrity to me and I don't know if professional sports of any kind have any integrity left. Baseball has lost it. Cycling has lost it. I'm done watching professional sports.

MikeS777
MikeS777

I agree, Jeff.  This punishment was deserved, and likely points to the fact the NFL knows things we don't...like the extent of Spygate before they destroyed all the evidence.  Rules are rules.  When you break them, you have to expect to pay for it just like if a kid gets caught with a cheat sheet.

If deflating balls isn't a big deal, why are they going through the trouble to do this?  Clearly Brady thinks it's an advantage and feels more comfortable throwing balls under inflated.  Just like Spygate...why go through all that trouble if there is no real advantage gained.

No I don't think it had an effect on the Indianapolis game itself, but the text messages captured seemed to point to this being a routine habit of the team.  Those messages were sent months before the Indianapolis game in question.  So now you have to wonder how many games were affected during the regular season or even past seasons.

I think the Patriots would have won that sorry AFC East on talent alone, but would they have ended up with the #1 playoff seed?  They might have lost a couple more games and fallen into Wild Card weekend with a much tougher road to the Super Bowl.

Just like with Spygate, there's no way to pretend that a lot of games weren't affected by this.

Tom Evans
Tom Evans

@MikeS777 I say that all people who drive 56 mph in a 55 mph zone should get 5 years in prison.  After all, breaking the law is breaking the law.   And, if going 56 doesn't help people gain an unfair advantage, then WHY would someone do it?


It's time people have respect for the rules...

Mrtagrl
Mrtagrl

I can't find a copy of the letter online but have read about the 2004 incident in several articles since "deflate gate" started...here's some copy that explains.  


"According to a letter dated November 2, 2004, from then-NFL Director of Game Operations Peter Hadhazy and a memorandum dated October 25, 2004, from Richard Farley, the NFL Security Representative assigned to New England, that incident involved Patriots ball boys relaying supposed “approved” game balls that actually were non-approved practice balls to a game official during an October 25, 2004 regular season game."


"The then-Equipment Manager of the Patriots described the incident as “just an honest mistake.” The Hadhazy letter stated, however, that “the Patriots have not provided a reasonable explanation for this incident,” and warned that disciplinary action against the Patriots could result if a similar incident occurred in the future because it could be interpreted as a competitive violation."

Steve Morrison
Steve Morrison

@Mrtagrl but you left this out . (There actually was no game that day, but the Patriots did beat the New York Jets 13-7 on Oct. 24.)

According to the Wells Report, a letter from then-NFL director of game operations Peter Hadhazy dated Nov. 2, 2004 said the incident involved New England ball boys relaying “non-approved practice balls to a game official” during an Oct. 25, 2004 regular-season game. (There actually was no game that day, but the Patriots did beat the New York Jets 13-7 on Oct. 24.)

Read more at: http://nesn.com/2015/05/wells-report-patriots-warned-in-2004-about-improper-footballs/

SouthGeorgiaStrong
SouthGeorgiaStrong

LOL how did the Falcons even get in this conversation. Let each deal with his own situation. If the shoe was on the other foot all you would be crying about it being unfair to your team. Crime, Court, Justice. End of story just like with all the other fines

SouthGeorgiaStrong
SouthGeorgiaStrong

1 million dollars wow, the NFL can sign their own free agent. and get a first round pick to boot.