Tarnished golden boy

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New England Patriots v Houston Texans

I will come right out and admit that I have never liked Tom Brady. The guy just seems too perfect, which makes me think he must be hiding something. He has always reminded me of the NFL’s version of Alex Rodriguez, and we all know how that story worked out. Thus, I was not that surprised when, back in January, it was revealed that, perhaps, he was doctoring the football to give himself a bit of an advantage over his opponents.

 

Honestly, after the Patriots were caught spying on their opponents in the now infamous “Spygate” scandal of 2007, I wouldn’t put anything past them in their quest to be better than every other team in the league. So, yes, they cheated, it’s what they do. But the fact the face of their franchise, arguably the greatest quarterback of his generation, has been caught up in the mess? Well, that, my friends, makes this a different story.

 

Brady is your classic overachiever. A late-round draft pick who turns out to be one of the game’s all-time greats and ends up marrying one of the most beautiful women in the world. He dresses well, smiles a lot, and he wins. What’s not to like?

 

Well, like the aforementioned Rodriguez, it’s the dirty underbelly. The drive to be the best which can, and often does, lead people to take shortcuts to achieve their ultimate goal. For A-Rod it was performance-enhancing drugs. For Brady it was a deflated football. Is one worse than the other? Of course! But, that doesn’t excuse what Brady did. Because, when you get right down to it, he cheated.

 

I have read numerous excuses from Patriots’ supporters claiming that everyone does the same thing Brady did, he was just unfortunate enough to get caught. I get that and I don’t doubt it, but he did get caught and thus, he must be punished.

 

The league handed down that punishment on Monday and it included a four-game suspension for Brady as well as a million dollar fine for the Patriots, plus the loss of two draft picks.

 

To me, this is just about right. I would have loved for the suspension to be longer.

But after the way the NFL has messed up handling the domestic abuse cases of players like Ray Rice, there was no way they could look like they were being as hard on a guy for doctoring footballs as they were on a guy who hit his then-fiancée.

 

The fine and the loss of draft picks seem like slaps on the wrists to the organization, which, in reality, they are. But there’s no way they were going to strip them of their Super Bowl win, which would have been kind of awesome. Still, they did enough to further tarnish Brady’s legacy, which is now looking awfully bad.

 

That legacy will forever be one of a guy who played on dirty teams. The smiling face behind which hid dirty secrets that helped him hoist the Lombardi Trophy (at least) four times.

 

From here on out, he won’t just be Tom Brady, greatest player of his generation. He will be Tom Brady, cheating quarterback from a dishonest franchise that played fast and loose with the rules and swindled the league out of four Super Bowls.

 

There is no way he can come back from this. Brady will forever be the tarnished golden boy. He is the underdog who made good, because he wasn’t afraid to take a shortcut straight to the top.