Tom Brady broke the sports world two weeks ago like Ellen broke Twitter during last year’s Oscars. Brady isn’t just the face of the New England Patriots or NFL, but also one of the most inspiring athletes we’ve seen over the past couple of decades. He’s up there with athletes like Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky, and Muhammad Ali. Interestingly, they all have something else in common, and it’s not the fistful of championship rings or titles won but the controversy.
When you’re on top of the world like Brady is, the media will find ways to bring you down. But there isn’t much that can kill the husband of Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen. Brady battled incredibly hard to become the starting quarterback at U of Michigan, an institution that cares more about football than education—they have 110,000 fans for every home game. After college, he was chosen as the last pick in the final round of the 2000 NFL draft. Beginning his career as a backup quarterback, he persevered like he had in many other circumstances and won the Super Bowl during his first tilt as a starting quarterback.
Talk about adversity and capability.
The Sunday before last, Brady won his fourth Super Bowl in just his sixth appearance. Super Bowl XLIX wasn’t his first rodeo. You think Deflategate would have diminished the mental toughness of arguably the greatest quarterback of all time? I don’t think so.
All of Deflategate happened because Brady threw an interception to D’Qwell Jackson, a defender for the Indianapolis Colts. Jackson noticed the ball was squishier than he was used to, and when officials weighed the ball, they found that New England produced balls for the AFC Championship that had been reduced by two pounds per square inch from the official 12.5–13.5 required.
After that the sports world exploded, blaming Brady and head coach Bill Belichick for organizing a cheating scheme. If it wasn’t Belichick, it would have to have been Brady who convinced his equipment guy and teenaged ball boys to take air out of the balls, which he wanted to fit his grip more comfortably. Belichick and Brady repeatedly said over the past two weeks that they “knew nothing about the claims we’re being accused of”, and during the game nobody within the Patriot’s organization could feel any difference in the ball’s air pressure.
While millions of fans accused Brady of cheating after the 45-7 romping of the Colts, the only people that seemed to come to the defence of him and the Patriots were, oddly enough, the Colts. Indianapolis cornerback Dwayne Allen weighed in on the situation, writing in a tweet, “They could have played with soap for balls and beat us. Simply the better team.”
At the end of the week, Belichick held a press conference claiming they conducted an in-house study regarding what they believed happened that day of the game. They claim that sub-zero temperatures, rainfall, and dominant Gronkowski touchdown spikes caused the balls to lose air pressure.
He was dubbed “Bill Belichick the Science Guy”, a title that prompted a response from Bill Nye, who dismissed the head coach’s science as nonsensical. Well, whatever. I side with Belichick, since I’m a Patriots fan and Bill Nye is too old for me anyway.
Luckily, a scandal like this will likely never hit the Varsity Blues—nobody in the locker room even touches the ball before the game, and referees have their hands on the balls at all times.
“Surprisingly no, they just give you like 20 brand-new balls each game. I prefer a little less deflated. I can’t lie, they’re easier to grip,” says fifth-year quarterback Simon Nassar. “Throughout the game you notice the balls get a little easier to handle.”
The Patriots still haven’t been convicted of breaking a rule, but if they are, they could face some consequences. They would be obligated to forfeit draft picks from the upcoming 2015 draft and pay hefty fines.
Even if Brady did doctor the balls, how much of a difference would it make? They still played with official NFL footballs. Brady shouldn’t be bullied for doing something he probably didn’t do for the purpose of cheating.
And hey, we all marvelled at his brilliance and passion for the game in last Sunday’s Super Bowl when he deftly deflated the Seattle Seahawks and their dynamic defence.