If it was indeed his legacy that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was most concerned about upholding at the center of the Deflategate scandal, then Tuesday brought with it a dagger through the heart of every supporter who donned a “Free Brady’’ T-shirt or backed the “No Brady, No Banner’’ movement.
Oh, we get it. The intricacies of the Deflategate scandal have been silly from the get-go, a complete embarrassment for a league that purports itself to be the most powerful in North America. This was only further proven by the fact that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell felt compelled to release a 20-page opus regarding his decision to uphold Brady’s four-game suspension, a huge middle finger to Brady, his team, and everyone who scoffed at the importance of deflated footballs.
Goodell had it out for Brady, all right.
Still, Brady now looks more guilty than ever.
“Mr. Brady made a deliberate effort to ensure that investigators would never have access to information that he had been asked to produce,’’ Mr. Goodell wrote.
The revelation that Brady destroyed his phone prior to meeting with NFL-appointed sleuth Ted Wells isn’t a good look for the four-time Lombardi Trophy champ. It is indeed a damning turn in the Deflategate saga for the Super Bowl MVP, a matter that only the blindest of excusatory Patriots fans can reason with a shrug of the shoulders and a nod to their TB12 shrines.
Brady might be taking his case to federal court, but in the eyes of everyone west of I-84, the verdict is already in.
Of something, at least.
Maybe Brady’s camp will spin this into a preemptive measure to secure naked photos of Gisele didn’t get into the wrong hands. Perhaps it will be spin to protect the likes of John Jastremski and Jim McNally from further implications. Hell, the idea that Goodell and the NFL had no business with his phone in the first place might fly in the soon-to-be convulsed parking lots along Route One.
In any case, the Deflategate chronicle just got a whole lot more complicated, and there’s one person to blame: Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr.
“During the four months that the cellphone was in use, Brady had exchanged nearly 10,000 text messages, none of which can now be retrieved from that device,’’ the league said in its release. “Following the appeal hearing, Mr. Brady’s representatives provided a letter from his cellphone carrier confirming that the text messages sent from or received by the destroyed cellphone could no longer be recovered.’’
Hate to say I told you so, but it was a foregone conclusion that Goodell would uphold Brady’s four-game suspension, all in the good name of TV ratings. As you know, Brady’s first game back is scheduled to be in Week 6 (New England’s 5th game) against the whistle-blowing Indianapolis Colts, a primetime game on NBC that figures to have ad revenue leaking from every dirty corner of the NFL’s Park Place headquarters. But this latest wrinkle regarding Brady’s phone provides justification for the league’s convenient decision.
“We cannot comprehend the league’s position in this matter,’’ the Patriots said in a statement released late Tuesday afternoon. “Most would agree that the penalties levied originally were excessive and unprecedented, especially in light of the fact that the league has no hard evidence of wrongdoing. We continue to unequivocally believe in and support Tom Brady. We also believe that the laws of science continue to underscore the folly of this entire ordeal.’’
Excessive. Unprecedented. Absolutely.
As for the “laws of science,’’ give it a rest already.
The fact that Brady and accused domestic abuser Greg Hardy are due to serve the same banishment is, of course, ridiculous, no matter how the NFL wants to spin the on-field, off-field dynamics of the two transgressions. But Goodell ruling that the four games should be upheld because Brady’s actions were the closest precedent to a failed PED test is a matter of such delusional proportion that even the biggest Brady critic has to look at the league with a doubtful eye.
But it really doesn’t matter. The Brady aura has taken a serious blow.
Maybe Brady’s practice of destroying cell phones whenever Tim Cook makes a keynote speech is a legitimate practice, but to reason the convenient timing of his March actions is to toss reason into the same river in which the accused may have tossed his device. Meanwhile, the Patriots’ insistence to rely on the gas laws of the situation flies in the face of owner Bob Kraft laying down at the feet of Goodell back in May at the owners’ meetings in San Francisco.
Did the commissioner indeed tell Kraft then what the world learned today about Brady’s phone? Was that the reason for the sudden about-face of a man destined to go down a road that might have made him the modern-day Al Davis?
In defense of the Patriots, it’s going to be impossible to recreate the atmospheric conditions of that humid, wet January day. But it doesn’t matter. The NFL has the Patriots by the noose with a lack of hard evidence, but a whole lot of innuendo.
Brady did himself no favors. He did the Patriots even fewer.
His reputation has taken the ultimate hit. He, like Bill Belichick and his team before him, is now, officially, seen as a cheater.
They may very well be innocent. It doesn’t matter though.
Brady and his brand have been tainted as arrogance reigns at One Patriot Place.