Sunday, May 1, 2016

Yes, Brady Should Still Keep Fighting

This column originally appeared in the Sun Chronicle on Monday, April 25, 2016
By Bill Gouveia

          When it comes to Tom Brady and the DeflateGate saga (I cant believe this is still going on), Sun Chronicle sportswriter extraordinaire and old friend Mark Farinella and I agree on many things.


            Mark points out the re-hashing of this silly, stupid controversy in local media and radio talk shows is a painful and somewhat masochistic process.  Like him, Im sick of discussing air pressure in footballs.


            He also points out this is no longer about whether Brady actually knowingly participated in a plot to gain a competitive advantage.  It has morphed into a battle over the right of the NFL Commissioner to hand out draconian punishments as he sees fit under the terms of a poorly-negotiated contract by the players union. 


            Farinella correctly notes Bradys options are severely limited in the wake of the appeals court 2-1 decision to reinstate his suspension.  The quarterback has little chance of being successful at any of his appeal opportunities.  The odds clearly show he is highly likely to miss the first four games of the 2016 season.


            And Mark correctly points out that even if Bradys name were somehow magically cleared, it would not change the perception around the country that he and the Patriots organization cheat.  SpyGate will never be resolved, and the questions that linger over it will in the minds of many always cloud the great accomplishments of this team and their biggest star.  Again - total agreement.


            But all this leads Mark to the conclusion that Brady should cease all appeals and simply serve his suspension.  Farinella says for the superstar to continue his quest to clear his name will perpetuate a distraction that will hurt his team.  In fact, he says if Brady continues to exercise his right to attempt to exonerate himself, then hes a selfish fool.


            End of agreement.


            This is not a fine line where reasonable people can agree to disagree.  Brady is not appealing a decision on whether he delivered a late hit, or his sneakers were the wrong color, or some unique rules violation.  He is being called a cheat and a liar.  Forget his legacy as an NFL great his very honor and character are on the line here.


            If Brady is truly innocent as he claims, then he owes it to himself and his family to make use of every possible appeals alternative he can afford.  And fortunately for Tom, he can afford a lot.


            Marks point about how the national perception of the Patriots will not change even if Brady is somehow cleared is correct.  But that goes directly against his illogical conclusion that Bradys continued appeals would cause the team to suffer.  If Brady pulls a Robert Kraft and says he is accepting the punishment without admitting guilt then he might as well admit guilt.


            The difference between Kraft not appealing the fine and draft picks and Brady not appealing the suspension is simple.  Kraft was not personally accused of wrongdoing or cheating.  Brady has been.


            If someone wrongly accused myself or Mark of plagiarism (the journalistic cardinal sin), I expect both of us would fight such an accusation to the full extent our resources would allow.  It is difficult to put a price on your personal integrity.


            And lastly, Mark points out Bradys accomplishments far outweigh any damage DeflateGate could ever do to his legacy.


            Ask Pete Rose if his accomplishments outweighed the punishment he received.  Ask Roger Clemens if his record of accomplishment has been more important than what he is perceived to have done off the field, as he still has to buy a ticket to get into the Hall of Fame.  Once you are branded a cheater, it sticks unless you clear your name.


            This is not a take-one-for-the-team type situation.  This is a man fighting with every means at his disposal to clear his name, or at the very least avoid punishment for something he insists he did not do.


            Like Mark, I think Brady is probably wasting his time and money.  But I will respect and admire his decision if that is the way he chooses to go.


            In the meantime, if you want a good deal on tickets to the first three home games


Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and entering his 45th year as a Patriots season ticketholder.  He can be emailed at and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.

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