Tom Brady’s Insufficient Facebook Post And Being A Pats Fan Post-DeflateGate
There has been no topic more widely discussed nor heatedly debated in American sports than Tom Brady and DeflateGate over the last nine months. The chronicle of Brady and New England's deflated footballs came to a legal resolution (for now) in federal court last Thursday when Judge Richard M. Berman ruled in favor of the NFLPA; therefore vacating Brady's four-game suspension.
Yet amidst all of the craziness, Brady has remained incredibly silent. He had an extremely uncomfortable, albeit necessary, press conference before the Super Bowl in which he completely denied any knowledge of or involvement in the illicit manipulation of game balls. Since then, he had remained almost completely absent from any public discussion regarding his battle with the NFL.
Prior to Friday evening, Brady had only broken his public silence regarding DeflateGate once; to address the rumors surrounding him destroying his cell phone in the midst of Ted Wells' investigation. He returned to Facebook on the eve of Labor Day weekend with this statement:
"The regular season starts tomorrow morning and I can’t wait to fully commit my energy and emotion to focus on the challenges of the 2015 NFL season. I want to thank my family, my friends, all of the fans, past and current players and my teammates for the support they have given me throughout this challenging experience. I also want to thank Judge Berman and his staff for their efforts to resolve this matter over the past five weeks. I am very grateful. My thanks also to the union's legal team who has fought so hard right along with me. While I am pleased to be eligible to play, I am sorry our league had to endure this. I don’t think it has been good for our sport - to a large degree, we have all lost. I am also sorry to anyone whose feelings I may have hurt as I have tried to work to resolve this situation. I love the NFL. It is a privilege to be a member of the NFL community and I will always try to do my best in representing my team and the league in a way that would make all members of this community proud. I look forward to the competition on the playing field and I hope the attention of NFL fans can return to where it belongs - on the many great players and coaches who work so hard every week, and sacrifice so much, to make this game great. Most importantly, I look forward to representing the New England Patriots on Thursday night in our season opener. I hope to make all of our fans proud this year … and beyond!"
First of all, there is something oddly juvenile about Brady choosing Facebook as his medium of choice for releasing statements of this magnitude. There's also a slight issue with his "I can't wait to fully commit my energy and emotion to focus on the challenges of the 2015 NFL season" stance.
HOLD ON, TOM. I'm pretty sure before you get back to 'Do Your Job' and all that jazz, there are some other things to talk about. So back it up a little, bud. National media and NFL fans around the country have been hanging on every single detail of this saga for longer than anyone ever wanted or expected. Most people can agree that they are desperate for it to be over, but that doesn't mean that they don't want to actually hear something from Brady.
Fans have been forced to deal with this and the media has been forced to cover it for two reasons; the first being that Goodell and the NFL completely overreached with unnecessarily heavy-handed sanctions for Brady and the Patriots and the second being that Brady refused to accept it. Brady's decision to fight the power has been validated by the fact that he won in court, but he still owes a lot of people their chance to ask him questions and his fans a chance to hear the answers.
Whether innocent or not, one of the league's marquee players chose to engage in a fiery public battle with the NFL. Just because Brady believes he was treated unjustly doesn't mean he should get to skate by with a couple of paragraphs on Facebook.
Brady needs to step up to a podium, and he needs to do it in a capacity that solely addresses what has happened over the last nine months. He gets paid millions of dollars to play the game we all love. He is one of the great quarterbacks of all time. He is a face and a name that will forever be tied to legendary postseason greatness. The game of football and the fans who watch it have given him everything he has.
He has maintained throughout this process that he never did anything wrong, and that may be true, but you know who definitely hasn't done anything wrong? The NFL fans. Whether they idolize Brady or they have watched him victimize their teams over the years and want to see him go down in flames, they are at the root of everything he is. Such is the life of a professional athlete in America.
Plus, Brady and the NFLPA's win in court may actually have long-lasting implications on the way that players are sanctioned and the power that Roger Goodell will have in doing so. Whether hateful Giants or Ravens fans want to admit it or not, Brady's win over the NFL is a very good thing for players. Weakening Goodell's ability to arbitrarily hand out suspensions without precedent or basis is a win for all of them. That's why he has to get up and talk about this. It's not about just Brady anymore. In fact, it hasn't been about just him for really long time.
Whew! Glad I got that off my chest. So, with all of that being said...
Brady is not your enemy and he can't make your team suck so stop blaming every sad, shitty thing that happens to you as a sports fan on him. He's probably better than any quarterback you will ever have. Get over it and enjoy sports. You're not the first person to have to endure other teams being better than yours. That doesn't mean a future Hall of Fame player should be banned from football.
When my psychotically loyal Boston-sports fan father passed away in October of 2000, he was still clinging to dusty memories of the mid-80's Celtics. His beloved Red Sox were still breaking hearts every goddamn year. Ray Borque had gone and left the Bruins (eventually winning a championship with someone else's team.) And the Patriots were nothing more than a team that had been slapped around by the Dolphins for the better part of the previous 20 years. Their greatest moments in franchise history had been getting their asses handed to them by the Chicago Bears in the 1985 Super Bowl and then having Brett Favre do it to them again ten years later.
The point is that it wasn't that long ago that Boston sports fans were a downtrodden group of sad sacks. Tom Brady was the beginning of everything that has happened for America's luckiest sports fans over the past fifteen years. He's been incredible. He's looked superhuman at times. He's been an honor and a privilege to watch, and most Boston fans are aware that as his career enters its twilight, we will never get anything like him again in our lifetimes.
The renaissance of Boston sports may be coming to a close, and it very likely will have begun and ended with Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr.
He is a worthy sportsman and sports hero for the fans in New England. He is also flawed and has made some mistakes along the way. I've been very critical of how he has handled himself to the fans and media during DeflateGate. He's not perfect and you are allowed to hate him. Just don't be dumb enough to wish he weren't playing. Someday you will tell your kids and grandkids about watching him in the playoffs and the Super Bowls and the epic regular season showdowns and whether you love or hate him, you'll realize just how special all of it really was.
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