The Deflategate investigation has concluded that it was more probable than not that Tom Brady had general awareness of the mysterious shrinking footballs. Now the fun started. Although the investigator, Ted Wells, is highly regarded for his probity and objectivity, he was attacked by Brady supporters for what they argue were his tendentious findings. As is so true today in our political world, when allegations are true and damaging, attack the messenger.
Physicists from prestigious universities brought us back to high school science class with theories suggesting how the squishy pigskins could have been the result of natural phenomena. I think the science was a little squishy here. It was, however, sentimental for me to relive the tender memories from high school physics about the exciting relationships between pressure and volume. There’s nothing like a discussion of the ideal gas law to liven up a dull evening.
Would Sir Isaac Newton have given Brady a pass?
Brady has now suffered a deflation in his income with a 4 game suspension and the Patriots will endure a deflation in the number of their permitted draft picks over the next 2 years.
So, Brady and his minions pushed back hard. The 'Pats' can teach us all about integrity and fair play, as they did in 2007 when they were caught videotaping an opposing coach’s signals. I think that he was aware. His statements both prior to and subsequent to Wells’ report were tentative and calculated, not consistent with what one would expect from a man who was wrongly charged. Moreover, his refusal to turn over his text messages and emails are not the actions of an innocent man. Of course, he has the right to refuse to share them, and we have the right to draw conclusions based on this decision. This is not a trial where he is entitled to a presumption of innocence.
Here’s what I would have advised Tom Brady to say before the microphones.
I love the game of football. I have fallen short and did not live up to my own standards. While I never asked directly for anyone to manipulate the game balls, I can understand how the equipment staff thought they were serving me and the team. I accept responsibility for this and I accept the judgement of the recent investigation. I will devote the rest of my career and my life to earning the trust of my colleagues and the public. Football and the fans deserve no less.
In my view, this contrition would have shown us his humanity. Since every one of us is a flawed creature, we would be inclined to be forgiving of a fellow human being who has missed the mark. This would have been such a refreshing event to witness since accepting personal responsibility is a rare event these days. He could have inspired us and returned to the game a bigger man. Instead, he has become yet another example of responsibility deflection. He fumbled.
If Brady couldn’t bring himself to utter a mea culpa because it is the right thing to do, then he should at least have done so because it is a smart play. No one doubts Brady’s ability to call the right play in the huddle. He should have ditched his advisors and called an audible.
The lesson here is universal. When we err or truly transgress, what do we do? Do we lateral the ball or do we take the hit we deserve?