Deflategate: How Will Tom Brady Fare?
In January, New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady attempted to laugh off “deflategate” rumors that alleged that the balls provided by the Patriots during the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts were intentionally under inflated. Now, following the release of an official report investigating the incident, the Super Bowl-winning QB could be facing a suspension, thanks to several incriminating text messages sent by him and two low-level Patriots employees.
In the official 243-page report investigating the potential ball tampering, investigators overseen by attorney Ted Wells concluded that:
It is more probable than not that Jim McNally (the Officials Locker Room attendant for the Patriots) and John Jastremski (an equipment assistant for the Patriots) participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls after the balls were examined by the referee. Based on the evidence, it also is our view that it is more probable than not that Tom Brady (the quarterback for the Patriots) was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls.
Investigators also notably found no evidence of wrongdoing on behalf of the Patriots’ ownership or any coaches. That includes Head Coach Bill Belichick, who was previously suspected of being complicit in the deflating scandal.
The most damning evidence from the report came in the form of text messages between Patriots employees McNally and Jastremski that allude to potential ball tampering. In one message McNally even goes as far as to refer to himself as “the deflator.”
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) May 6, 2015
In another string of messages sent between Brady and McNally after the deflategate scandal broke, Brady appears to check up on McNally and attempts to put him at ease.
Brady: You good Jonny boy?
McNally: Still nervous; so far so good though. I‟ll be alright
Brady: You didn’t do anything wrong bud.
McNally: I know; I‟ll be all good
When asked about the guilty-looking messages, both parties claimed they were discussing something else entirely, but it appears that investigators weren’t convinced by their justifications.
Now the question that’s on everyone’s mind is what will happen to Brady as a result of these findings. Sports experts have already begun to speculate that Brady will most likely be issued a two game suspension from the league, which was the same punishment initially issued last summer to Ray Rice after punching his girlfriend, now wife, in a casino elevator. However some are speculating that Brady’s suspension could end up being as much as the entire 2015 season.
According to the New York Daily News, the Patriots could also be fined, as they were following the 2007 SpyGate scandal. After those revelations, Roger Goodell, the Commissioner of the National Football League, fined them $250,000, took away a first-round draft pick, and hit Belichick with his own hefty fine for running the spying operation.
Ultimately making an example out of Brady by handing out a tougher suspension would show a strong message that the league doesn’t condone cheating of any sort. The deflategate scandal not only tainted the AFC championships, but also called into question the legitimacy of the Patriots’ presence in Super Bowl XLIX and their win against the Seattle Seahawks. However, suspending Brady for an entire season might not be entirely feasible for Goodell given Brady’s popularity amongst fans and his status as one of the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks. This may end up being one of those cases where a potential loss in profits might outweigh doing what is right.
Featured image courtesy of [Keith Allison via Flickr]