Will Tom Brady Follow in Pete Rose’s Footsteps?
Here we are in August, approximately seven months after the Super Bowl, and the “Deflategate” rhetoric just keeps flowing. Tom Brady ignited a firestorm shortly after NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, rejected Brady’s four-game suspension appeal, and publicly stated that “Mr. Brady engaged in conduct detrimental to the integrity of, and public confidence in, the game of professional football.” Goodell also sharply criticized Brady for ordering the destruction of his cell phone. (This was the same phone that Brady had refused to allow the investigative team to examine its data — texts, emails and calls that might shed more light on the investigation, one way or the other.)
In response to the Commissioner’s remarks, Tom Brady fired back with a 507-word post on Facebook with a firm denial: “I did nothing wrong, and no one in the Patriots organization did either.”
As for the phone’s destruction, Brady’s explanation on Facebook: “I replaced my broken Samsung phone with a new iPhone 6 AFTER my attorneys made it clear to the NFL that my actual phone device would not be subjected to investigation under ANY circumstances. As a member of a union, I was under no obligation to set a new precedent going forward, nor was I made aware at any time during Mr. Wells investigation, that failing to subject my cell phone to investigation would result in ANY discipline.” (Brady, while under oath, also reinforced his innocence claim in the 457-page court transcript filed by the NFL Players Association that was made public on August 4th.)
What do you think? . . . Was Tom Brady involved in the Deflategate conspiracy?
Well, below is my take on Tom Brady’s alleged explanations, but first I should say that I am somewhat familiar with what goes on in an NFL players’ locker room, bench on the sidelines, and on the playing field. As a teenager, I served as the National Football League’s “water/ball boy” for the visiting teams when they played against the Washington Redskins at Griffith Stadium during the 1950’s.
My take: Yes, times have changed since my time at Griffith Stadium. However, based upon my experiences in dealing with NFL players, I cannot comprehend that anyone in any team’s organization would tamper with or undertake any unauthorized adjustments to the psi pressure of that team’s footballs without the knowledge and approval of the team’s quarterback. It just wouldn’t happen! With that said, let’s take a look at a few alleged issues and statements that I think seriously harms Tom Brady’s creditability:
Wells Report, page 129: Brady denies having been aware of Rule 2 or the minimum inflation level of footballs until 2014 (despite spending approximately fourteen years as an NFL quarterback).”
Contradiction: According to an NBC Sports article, “Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has long wanted control over the footballs he throws, to the point where he was the driving force behind a rules change that allowed visiting teams to provide their own footballs, rather than having both teams use footballs provided by the home team. In 2006, Brady and Peyton Manning successfully lobbied the league to let every team provide its own footballs to use on offense.”
Tom Brady’s Facebook Post: “To try and reconcile the record and fully cooperate with the investigation after I was disciplined in May, we turned over detailed pages of cell phone records and all of the emails that Mr. Wells requested. We even contacted the phone company to see if there was any possible way we could retrieve any/all of the actual text messages from my old phone. In short, we exhausted every possibility to give the NFL everything we could and offered to go thru the identity for every text and phone call during the relevant time. Regardless, the NFL knows that Mr. Wells already had ALL relevant communications with Patriots personnel that either Mr. Wells saw or that I was questioned about in my appeal hearing. There is no “smoking gun” and this controversy is manufactured to distract from the fact they have zero evidence of wrongdoing.”
Contradiction: Bottom line, Brady’s cooperation or lack of, certainly did not meet my personal test of cooperation. For example, according to page 21 of the Wells Report, “although Tom Brady appeared for a requested interview and answered questions voluntarily, he declined to make available any documents or electronic information (including text messages and emails) that we requested, even though those requests were limited to the subject matter of our investigation (such as messages concerning the preparation of game balls, air pressure of balls, inflation of balls or deflation of balls) and we offered to allow Brady‘s counsel to screen and control the production so that it would be limited strictly to responsive materials and would not involve our taking possession of Brady‘s telephone or other electronic devices. Our inability to review contemporaneous communications and other documents in Brady‘s possession and control related to the matters under review potentially limited the discovery of relevant evidence and was not helpful to the investigation.” In addition, page 20 of the report stated: “Counsel for the Patriots, however, refused to make [name omitted] available for a follow-up interview requested by our investigative team on what we believed were important topics, despite our offer to meet at any time and location that would be convenient for [name omitted]. Counsel for the Patriots apparently refused even to inform [name omitted] of our request. We believe the failure by the Patriots and its counsel to produce [name omitted] for the requested follow-up interview violated the club‘s obligations to cooperate with the investigation under the Policy on Integrity of the Game & Enforcement of League Rules and was inconsistent with public statements made by the Patriots pledging full cooperation with the investigation.
After it was discovered that Brady’s cell phone had been destroyed, Brady’s response on Facebook: “I replaced my broken Samsung phone with a new iPhone 6 AFTER my attorneys made it clear to the NFL that my actual phone device would not be subjected to investigation under ANY circumstances. As a member of a union, I was under no obligation to set a new precedent going forward, nor was I made aware at any time during Mr. Wells investigation, that failing to subject my cell phone to investigation would result in ANY discipline.”
Contradiction: Destruction of Brady’s cell phone certainly ranks high on my no-no list of things not to do. This is most troubling to me! It certainly left me with the impression that this “smoking gun” was more like a cannon shot that was deliberately made to ensure that investigators would never have access to the data contained within that phone. (Nowadays, the overt destruction of potential physical evidence appears to be the in-thing to help impede various high-level investigations.)
Wells Report, page 19: During his interview, [Brady] claimed that prior to the events surrounding the AFC Championship Game, he did not know the Patriots locker room attendant’s name or anything about that individual’s game-day responsibilities, including whether [name omitted] had any role relating to game balls or the game officials. (This individual had been employed by the Patriots for 32 years.)
Contradiction: It appears that Brady’s claims are contradicted by other evidence cited on page 6 of the Wells Report. “On January 10, 2015, immediately prior to the game between the Patriots and the Ravens, in the Patriots equipment room with both Brady and [name omitted] present, (locker room attendant) received two footballs autographed by Brady and also had Brady autograph a game-worn Patriots jersey that (locker room attendant) previously had obtained.”
Wells Report, page 18: “Additional evidence of Brady‘s awareness includes a material increase in the frequency of telephone and text communications between Brady and [name omitted]shortly after suspicions of ball tampering became public on January 19. After not communicating by telephone or text message for more than six months (based on data retrieved from [name omitted]cell phone), Brady and [name omitted]spoke by telephone at least twice on January 19 (calls lasting a total of 25 minutes and 2 seconds), twice on January 20 (calls lasting a total of 9 minutes and 55 seconds) and twice on January 21 (calls lasting a total of 20 minutes and 52 seconds) before [name omitted]surrendered his cell phone to the Patriots later that day for forensic imaging. These calls included conversations relatively early during the mornings of January 19 (7:26 a.m. for 13 minutes and 4 seconds), January 20 (8:22 a.m. for 6 minutes and 21 seconds) and January 21 (7:38 a.m. for 13 minutes and 47 seconds). Brady also took the unprecedented step of inviting [name omitted] to the QB room (essentially Brady‘s office) in Gillette Stadium on January 19 for the first and only time that [name omitted]can recall during his twenty-year career with the Patriots, and Brady sent [name omitted]text messages seemingly designed to calm “[name omitted](You good Jonny boy?”; “You doing good?”). For his part, [name omitted] sent Brady text messages confirming that he was okay.”
Denial . . . Denial . . . Denial! Pete Rose took this position and continued to vehemently deny that he bet on baseball even though an avalanche of incriminating evidence began falling on him. However, after nearly fifteen years of denials—in 2004—Pete Rose admitted to betting on baseball, but only while he was a manager.
Even today, the Rose saga is still not over. Now he is fighting to have his Hall of Fame eligibility reinstated by MLB’s new Commissioner, Rob Manfred. Unfortunately, I have heard alleged allegations (true or not) of even more gambling evidence focusing on Rose when he was a player may be on the horizon that will seriously hamper Pete’s quest. Who knows? But I suspect that Pete’s strong denials may have hurt him much, much, more than he thinks. Too bad; “Charlie Hustle” was a great ballplayer.
Now back to Tom Brady and his outright denials on Facebook, in the media and now under oath: “I did nothing wrong, and no one in the Patriots organization did either.” No matter what you think of the New England Patriots or Tom Brady, I ask you to closely evaluate this situation with your eyes and mind wide open.
With my personal knowledge of the sanctity bestowed on the quarterback’s position and combine that with those conclusions reached by the total investigative team, as detailed in the Wells Investigative Report, I am most disappointed in Tom Brady, and especially in his under-oath denials contained in the Federal Court transcript released on August 4, 2015, if those allegations are true.
I would like for the public to hear all the alleged evidence that caused the NFL Commissioner to go on record and publicly state:
“The available electronic evidence, coupled with information compiled in the investigator’s interviews, leads me to conclude that Mr. Brady knew about, approved of, consented to, and provided inducements and rewards in support of a scheme by which, with (name of individual) support, (name of individual) tampered with the game balls.”
On page 128 of the Wells Report, the following is documented: “we believe it is unlikely that an equipment assistant and a locker room attendant would deflate game balls without Brady‘s knowledge and approval. Based on our interviews and assessment of (name of individual) and (name of individual), we also do not believe that they would personally and unilaterally engage in such conduct in the absence of Brady‘s awareness and consent.”
In addition, I would like for all of us to hear:
Why were those two equipment managers fired if they played no role in this debacle?
Why was the questionable cell phone destroyed? Investigator was able to review a phone that Tom Brady allegedly used from spring of 2014 through Nov. 5, 2014. Why wasn’t that phone destroyed, if phone destruction was Brady’s practice?
Certainly of concern would be the fact that, “The timing and frequency of the telephone communications between (name of individual) and (name of individual), as well as (name of individual) and Brady immediately after suspicions of ball tampering were raised by NFL Security and in media reports.” Unusual, wouldn’t you say?
The explanation as to why (name of individual) referred to himself prior to 2014/15 season as the “deflator” and what he meant by his statement that he was ““not going to espn . . .yet.”?
With all of the above conflicting issues, I conclude my summation. For those of you, who are true Patriot and/or Tom Brady fans, just remember this is not simply a matter of inflated footballs; it is about protecting the integrity of the game and doing what is necessary to come down hard on any alleged liars or cheaters. Passing judgement is now in your hands.
Tom Brady is maneuvering into position to throw a Hail Mary pass. Will it succeed, or will it be Tom Brady’s greatest fumble ever? I hope that he will give serious thought to his unwavering position as it relates to the evidence on hand.