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Tom Brady was responsible for altering the footballs the Patriots used in the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts on January 18, 2015. I say that without a doubt in my mind, the Wells report published on May 6th simply confirmed what I and millions of others already new. I say all this not because I’m a Brady detractor, on the contrary I think he’s one of the all-time great quarterbacks, I believe the culture created and fostered by Bill Belichick and his staff led Brady down this path.
Under Belichick’s leadership New England has been secretive and arrogant, thumbing their nose at the NFL. Terse press conferences are the norm from the head coach and players who either are taught to maintain the silence or fear the repercussions.
Belichick’s wardrobe on the sideline, the cut up hooded sweatshirt, may not seem like much but it is another example of how the coach and organization thumbs its nose at the League.
In 2007 the Patriot’s were accused of illegally taping the New York Jets defensive coaches giving signals, although not in itself illegal New England took the liberty to move beyond the designated area and tape the coaches from their own sideline which was not allowed. Spygate, as the incident was dubbed, led to accusations and lawsuits alleging that this was not an isolated incident and the Patriots had been using the practice from the beginning of the Belichick era. None of this was proved true but the shadow of suspicion was cast.
The incident cost the organization $250,000 and a first round draft pick. Belichick was fined $500,000 as well for deliberately violating the directive.
The Well’s investigation concluded that it was "more probable than not" that New England Patriots equipment personnel were deliberately circumventing the rules by deflating footballs, Brady was implicated as it being more probable than not that he was aware of the deflation.
The report cleared Belichick and other coaches of any wrongdoing in the incident
The report focuses on text messages between a locker-room attendant and equipment assistant who joked about deflation and needles while referencing Brady. The two men seem an unlikely pair of individuals to take it upon themselves to alter game balls without provocation.
Brady has become a Belichick extension, cryptic in press conferences and petulant on the sidelines when the offense or defense struggled. He has now taken that flippant attitude further to make sure that he can gain a competitive edge by altering equipment.
Whether or not the deflated balls were truly a competitive edge will be debated, however, what cannot be debated is the psychological edge that Brady felt when he knew that the equipment was manipulated to his specifications and how it would affect his performance.
The legacy of Brady as a championship quarterback will take an initial hit as he faces possible suspension and an earlier end of his career than he planned; in the end he will enter the Hall of Fame based on the talents he displayed on the field.