The phone was so smart it allegedly was destroyed by the legend whose dumb stance to do so may have cost him his legacy as the greatest quarterback of all time.
Today’s news that Tom Brady’s suspension would stand at four games by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell‘s office was released along with the news that Brady destroyed the phone containing possible evidence of his culpability in the now infamous “Deflategate” New England Patriots football scandal.
There was talk by several sports world pundits including Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon of Pardon the Interruption that Brady’s infraction was so innocuous it was tantamount to “watering the base paths” in baseball. But, to be fair, the two sports talk show hosts, Kornheiser in particular, today expressed concern over Brady’s possible phone destruction.
Brady’s camp has not responded to the phone destruction allegations, but his agent, along with a statement from the Patriots themselves have denied any wrongdoing on Brady’s part, generally expressing indignation at the attempt to sully Brady’s legacy.
Is Brady’s legacy tarnished?
If Goodell and the NFL are correct that Brady destroyed his phone containing potential evidence of his part in Deflategate, then I will unequivocally suggest the sure, first ballot Hall of Fame quarterback’s legacy is indeed tainted.
Hindsight is always 20-20, but if we’ve been able to learn anything about sports heroes who insist upon their innocence even in the midst of insurmountable evidence to the contrary, it is that it is probably not the wisest choice to contest allegations. This is not a court of law where Goodell’s ruling has originated from. It may yet find its way into a court of law as Brady is expected to file suit somewhere, somehow. But if we’ve learned anything from the business of sports scandals from the likes of Lance Armstrong, Pete Rose and Alex Rodriguez, it’s that America, and specifically America’s sports fans, are forgiving.
In Lance Armstrong’s and Pete Rose’s cases, their implausible denials led to their banishment and downfall. If they could have their decisions to deny, deny, deny back again, they might choose to admit to their wrongdoing and ask forgiveness. After serving suspensions, paying fines, they could have easily been welcomed back by adoring, forgiving fans. Instead, their decisions to stand firm in denial led to their permanent exiles.
While Rose has been accepted publicly at the recent All-Star Game festivities in Cincinnati, he still has a long road ahead in order to be considered successfully by the Baseball Writers Association for election to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. Armstrong, alternatively, revealed his doping after repeated denials that spanned years. This has more than likely doomed him to pariah status the rest of his life.
Alex Rodriguez’ handlers on the other hand did right by their client. He asked for forgiveness after serving his then record suspension and has been accepted back in full, honorable status by New York Yankees fans this year. Of course, it hasn’t hurt that he is having one of, if not the best seasons ever had by a 40-year old ballplayer. Let’s hope for his sake he hasn’t been juicing with some new, as yet undetectable-by-MLB testing houses’ PED.
As for Brady, it’s not too late to fess up. But, this is Tom Brady. Like Lance Armstrong and Alex Rodriguez before him, he has vast financial resources to fight his four-game suspension.
If the cell phone destruction is not the smoking gun that sinks Brady’s Patriot ship with respect to his legacy, perhaps he can fight and ultimately win vindication.
But, if history serves any lessons, it teaches us professional athletes of superstar status have egos of equivalent status. If he’s guilty or culpable in any way in the scandal that is Deflategate, now is the time for him to come clean in order to preserve his legacy.
But, it says here he won’t. He’ll fight, the suspension will ultimately be upheld and by the time his part in any of the scandal fully emerges, the apologies will no longer be appropriate or hold any weight with fans.
Cheater apologies and requests for forgiveness most definitely fall under time constraints, if not outright expiration dates.