New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is one of the greatest players to ever feature in the National Football League. On the verge of making history and becoming the first quarterback to ever start in six separate Super Bowl games, Brady is pursuing a fourth championship that would put in a category that is currently filled only by Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw. Brady, who fell to pick No. 199 in the 2000 NFL Draft, has had a dream career, one unmatched by any other quarterback of his generation. His spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame is already guaranteed to him.
He may also be a cheater. The “Deflate-Gate” scandal involving the New England Patriots allegedly deflating footballs prior to playing against the Indianapolis Colts in the 2015 AFC Championship Game is one that involves Brady’s preferences for gripping and throwing footballs, and it’s such a big deal because NFL rules were broken if, in fact, Brady had the footballs doctored. What is so strange about the story is that Brady and the Patriots likely would not have needed any illegal advantage to defeat what was an underwhelming Indianapolis side. New England was, to put it bluntly, the better football team on that day.
But Deflate-Gate is hardly the only reason people have spoken out against the future Hall of Famer. In January 2014 Ray Lewis said live on Stephen A. Smith’s show on Sirius XM’s Mad Dog Radio that “the only reason we know who Tom Brady is, because of a tuck rule.” While that is a ridiculous statement fuelled by frustration over the NFL’s stance on calls like Dez Bryant‘s overturned catch against the Packers in the NFC Championship Game, it seems like Brady is a popular target for criticism of all kinds.
Brady is understandably receiving wide criticism from a variety of individuals for Deflate-Gate. He has, in the past, responded to such critics by taking it to opponents on the field, and that is a tradition that began as he was preparing to join the NFL. It is hard to believe that there was once a time where a majority of NFL general managers were convinced that Brady was not right for their teams, so much so that he was closer to going undrafted than from being a first overall draft pick. Imagine what could have been had some other team wisely selected Brady all those years ago.
10. NFL Scouts
Brady will forever serve as a reminder that even so-called pro football experts get it wrong from time to time. Every team in the NFL passed on Brady when he was set to be a rookie, and some analysts even questioned “whether he ever had lifted a weight” leading up to the NFL Combine. The New England Patriots took a flier on the product of the University of Michigan when they selected him with pick No. 199 of the 2000 NFL Draft, and even head coach Bill Belichick could not have imagined what he was getting in the young quarterback.
“Deflate-Gate” is not the first time that Brady has played a role in a juicy tale. He was dating actress Bridget Moynahan in the fall of 2006 when Moynahan became pregnant. The New England quarterback split from that relationship while Moynahan was carrying his child, and Brady then began dating his to-be wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen. Moynahan has, to her credit, publicly taken the high road and refused to trash either Brady or Gisele over the years, but the story makes for tabloid gossip to this day. Brady’s image has not, contrary to the beliefs had by some, always been squeaky clean.
8. Mike Francesa
The New York radio personality and “Sports Pope” has not been shy on his feelings about Brady as it pertains to Deflate-Gate. Francesa has ripped Patriots owner Robert Kraft for doing next to nothing to figure out what happened at the 2015 AFC Championship Game, and the WFAN radio host has also accused both Belichick and Brady of knowing why the footballs New England used in that game were not properly inflated. Whatever you think about his show or about him personally, you have to give Francesa plenty of credit for saying on the air what many fans are thinking about Brady and the Patriots.
7. Richard Sherman
The outspoken superstar cornerback of the Seattle Seahawks addressed Deflate-Gate when speaking with reporters during Pro Bowl week, and Sherman had the following to say about Brady:
“I think people sometimes get a skewed view of Tom Brady, that he’s just clean cut, does everything right, and never says a bad word to anyone, and we know him to be otherwise, but in that moment of him being himself, he said some things and we returned the favor. Unfortunately he apparently didn’t remember what he said, but I’m sure at those moments of yelling at the ref, I’m sure he was saying, ‘Good job, you’re doing a fantastic job, keep it up.’”
More of Sherman’s comments can be read here.
6. Saturday Night Live
You just knew that the NBC late-night show was going to poke fun at Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Taran Killam stepped in to play the role of Brady, and Killam and SNL mocked what was, intentionally or not, a joke of a Brady press conference that had occurred during the previous midweek. Did you even know that footballs could be inflated or deflated? Brady didn’t, according to the sketch comedy show. Neither the Indianapolis Colts nor the Baltimore Ravens will be laughing at the sketch, as both sides have reasons to believe that they may have been somewhat robbed.
5. Mark Brunell
The former NFL quarterback was nearly in tears when speaking about Tom Brady and Deflate-Gate on ESPN. “I did not believe what Tom had to say,” explained Brunell.
“Those balls were deflated. Somebody had to do it. And I don’t believe there’s an equipment manager in the NFL that would on his own initiative deflate a ball without his starting quarterback’s approval. I just didn’t believe what Tom Brady had to say.”
Brunell, as you will see, is not the only person with a history in the NFL who is not believing that Brady played no part in this scandal.
4. John Madden
The former NFL head coach and former football television commentator who now serves as a consultant to league commissioner Roger Goodell believes that Brady and not Belichick is to blame if the Patriots are in fact guilty of purposely deflating footballs before games. “That would have to be driven by the quarterback,” Madden explained while speaking with The Sports Xchange.
“That’s something that wouldn’t be driven by a coach or just the equipment guy. Nobody, not even the head coach, would do anything to the football unilaterally, such as adjust the amount of pressure in a ball, without the quarterback knowing. It would have to be the quarterback’s idea.”
3. Jerome Bettis
Bettis, who made his name as a bruising running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers, is looking only at the quarterback of the Patriots as being the cause of Deflate-Gate. The all-time great back said the following during an ESPN appearance:
“Tom Brady said, ‘I like my balls a certain level.’ Well, it’s going to be a certain level every single game. It’s not going to deviate. And for him to stand there and say that he didn’t know that it was that much of a difference for a quarterback who throws the ball, who makes his living handling the football, I think that was wrong and I’m very disappointed.”
2. Hines Ward
Ward, a former teammate of Bettis’ when the two were with the Pittsburgh Steelers, brought up the “C” word when speaking about Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots during an appearance on Late Night with Seth Myers. “No matter how you want to spin it, cheating is cheating, and for the Patriots they got caught,” Ward told Myers. Ward also talked about how such actions affect the “integrity of the game.” One cannot help but wonder if this entire mess will affect how writers view Belichick and Brady when their careers come to an end. Will some refuse to vote either or both into the Hall of Fame? Maybe.
1. Troy Aikman
The member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame put all of the blame on Tom Brady when talking about Deflate-Gate during an interview on Dallas Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket. “It’s obvious that Tom Brady had something to do with this,” Aikman stated.
“I know going back to when I played, they’ve loosened up the rules in terms of what each team is able to do with the footballs coming into the game. Used to be, the home team provided all the balls. And now, each team brings their footballs the way they like them and break ‘em in. Used to be you couldn’t break them in. So for the balls to be deflated, that doesn’t happen unless the quarterback wants that to happen, I can assure you of that. Now the question becomes did Bill Belichick know about it?”
That’s a good question, Mr. Aikman.