This is pro sports. Everybody cheats all the time. Ask old-time golfers about the grooves on Lee Trevino’s wedges back in the day. Or ask coaches about flops in soccer and basketball. Or ask linemen what happens in the trenches in the NFL. Or ask baseball players about foreign substances on baseballs or corked bats. Or ask anybody about PEDs in just about every sport imaginable, from cycling to track to baseball to archery to biathlon.
Neither athletes nor fans care. Andy Pettite shot up PEDs with Roger Clemens, admitted it, and still got his old job back with the Yankees. Barry Bonds did enough ‘roids to put himself on the pole at the Kentucky Derby and got a standing ovation when he returned to throw out the first pitch at last year’s NLCS game. Admitted cheat Mark McGwire actually teaches hitting for the Dodgers now. (Hitting tip: “OK guys, it’s really important that you tap the syringe to get the air bubbles out.”)
It seems most of us agree with legendary golfer Sam Snead who said, “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying hard enough.” That quote’s also been attributed to Mark Grace, former Cubs first baseman, and to Eddie Guerrero, former professional wrestlerh Because it holds true in absolutely every sport.
So, unless you’re a “sports idiot” (How to know if you are: your cell phone number starts with 617) you know Brady did it. I mean, even Bill Belichick is refusing to defend Brady. Think about that.
We know he cheated and we also know that this whole Deflate-gate thing is ridiculous. The Patriots can’t prove he didn’t, because he did. The NFL can’t prove he did, so they’re fighting the battle in the court of public opinion with leaked data that turns out not to be true and stories about cell phones.
Both sides have taken it too far because it’s what high school coaches call a “dick measuring contest.” NFL boss Roger Goodell wants to prove he’s a tough guy after looking like a weenie in the Ray Rice situation. Robert Kraft, owner of the Patriots, wants to prove who’s really boss. “Roger, you’re a puppet with my hand up your sock. You say what I tell you.” Tom Brady wants to prove he can do anything he damn well pleases because he’s Tom Brady.
Even though we know it’s a ploy to distract us from the CTE scandal, we’re still engrossed. It’s fun watching a bunch of ego-drunk multi-millionaires slosh around in a mud pit cursing and pulling hair.
However, one interesting, and perhaps important, thing did come out of yesterday’s ruling. It was determined that Tom Brady deliberately destroyed one of his old cell phones right before he met with investigators. Brady says this was his usual practice, but that’s not true. He had another old phone he didn’t destroy. And the timing is surely suspicious.
So what was on that phone that he didn’t want anyone to see? It probably wasn’t texts to equipment managers about deflating footballs. Remember, investigators already have those texts from the cell phones of others involved. So what was it? What was so damaging that it led Brady to do something he knew would get him skewered?
Let’s speculate wildly, shall we?
- Could Brady have had discussions about deflating footballs with other, more important people in the Patriot’s organization? Is it possible those texts would have shown someone much higher up to be aware of Deflate-gate?
- Could those texts involve discussions of other cheating by the Patriots? After all, it’s not whether the Patriots cheat. We know they cheat. They’ve been caught. And they’ve hired repeat offenders, like Skippy McDaniels. So is it possible that there was chatter about even bigger cheating, like a stolen playbook, on that phone?
- Could it have been player tampering? Remember Legarrette Blount hinted that he deliberately got himself cut by the Steelers because he knew he had a job waiting with the Patriots (Dr. Sammy had even called it a week and a half earlier, in fact). Was Brady doing a little recruiting on the side?
- Could it involve evidence of other “high crimes and misdemeanors” by Brady totally unrelated to Deflate-gate? What might those be, theoretically? Well, gambling on games would be a start. It’s not unheard of for athletes to gamble (Rose, Jordan, Mickelson). It’s not even unheard of for athletes to bet on the outcome of games they’re playing in, and even to influence the outcome of those games.
- Could it hold evidence of another type of cheating? As we know, rich, handsome, famous men do some very, very stupid things. Would an athlete married to the most beautiful woman on the planet cheat with other women? Well, sure. Tiger Woods did. Why? Because he could, I guess.
- Or other personal peccadilloes? When Louisville coach Rick Pitino got caught screwing a fan on the table of his favorite Italian restaurant, he was less concerned with that (or with having an assistant marry her to keep her quiet) getting out than he was that he, a devout Catholic like Brady, had paid her to have an abortion. People do stupid stuff, and then they do even stupider stuff to cover up the stupid stuff.
- Or financial shenanigans? The Bradys are very, very rich and split time between the U.S. and Brazil. Many who straddle tax jurisdictions find opportunities to minimize taxes, some of which are legal and some of which aren’t. Just ask GE.
- Or what about PEDs? The greatness of the Brady story is that he was a nothing prospect who became arguably the best quarterback the game has ever known. It’s a great story, but sadly one thing we’ve learned about great sports stories like that is that they’re usually rotten to the core. The more unlikely the outcome, the higher the likelihood of pharmaceutical help.
- The mind boggles at the possibilities. It could be something trivial, like snarky texts about other players or coaches.
- Or it could be something very sad. Maybe the deleted texts confirmed the long-held rumor that Brady’s in the closet. (Google “Tom Brady Gay.” Over 5 million hits.) Secret mash notes between Tom Terrific and Tim Tebow?
By destroying that phone, Brady has told journalists and the public that he has secrets, and invited us to discover them.
At the end of the day, I don’t much care how the whole Deflate-gate thing ends. If the suspension holds, then a football deflator (Brady) will end up sitting out a game in which a violent felon (Hardy) plays. That doesn’t quite seem fair. If the suspension is overturned, then it’s another laser blast against the NFL Death Star. Either way, an asshole ends up unhappy. Looks like a win-win to me.
But boy, what I’d give to see that phone.