Tom Brady and the Patriots have a reputation for cheating, thanks in part to the publicity surrounding controversies like Spygate and Deflategate. But how much of these stories are fact and how much are fiction? Did Brady ever admit to cheating? And will his reputation be tarnished forever?
Tom Brady’s legendary career
Brady cheats, huh? Cheating doesn’t explain the stats he’s put up since becoming the Patriots’ quarterback in 2001. Six Super Bowl titles, 536 touchdown passes, and a 217-63 regular-season record … Those numbers are not reachable through cheating alone.
Brady is one of the best players to ever step onto an NFL field. Combine his skills with a head coach like Bill Belichick, and you have arguably the best player-coach combo in the history of football.
Brady’s role in Deflategate
This scandal most closely implicates Brady. For those who don’t remember, in what became known as Deflategate, the NFL accused Brady and the Patriots of using slightly deflated footballs in their 2015 AFC Championship Game victory over the Colts.
The balls the Patriots used allegedly didn’t meet the air requirement (12.5-13.5 pounds per square inch) set forth by the league. This made it easier to throw and catch the balls — especially in the rainy and windy conditions of that game.
The NFL’s investigation resulted in a $1 million fine for the team and a four-game suspension for Brady. After appealing, he eventually served his punishment. Ultimately, neither Brady nor the Patriots admitted any wrongdoing.
In Spygate, the NFL alleged that the Patriots illegally videotaped the Jets’ play-call signals during a 2007 game. The subsequent investigation revealed that it was a common practice for the team during this period from 2002-07.
The league fined the team $250,000 and took away a first-round draft pick. Belichick was fined $500,000. This scandal involved the coaching staff for the most part, and Brady wasn’t implicated in it. But, again, the team made no admission of guilt.
The Patriots paid the fines, lost the draft pick, and moved on as if nothing happened. They ended the season 16-0 and went on to lose the Super Bowl to the Giants.
Has Brady ever been caught cheating?
This brings us back to the question of whether Brady has ever been caught cheating. Despite what some Patriots haters say, the answer is no.
Deflategate is the biggest Patriots scandal he’s been involved in. While he served a suspension, he appealed it and never admitted guilt. The NFL, likewise, never publicly presented hard evidence that Brady cheated or that he knew the balls were deflated.
Will the perception that Brady and the Patriots cheat hurt his legacy? We don’t think so. He has a 20-year track record of playing in the NFL, and many people regard him as the best quarterback in league history.
The Patriots scandals get a lot of press but are forgotten after punishments are handed down and suspensions are served. Brady’s play on the field speaks for itself. Virtually nothing can take away from this.