Spander: Deflategate won't diminish Brady's greatness 

click to enlarge Despite the scorn of Deflategate and a four-game suspension, Patriots QB Tom Brady doesn’t need to worry about his winning legacy after four Super Bowl titles. - MATT SLOCUM/AP FILE PHOTO
  • Matt Slocum/AP file photo
  • Despite the scorn of Deflategate and a four-game suspension, Patriots QB Tom Brady doesn’t need to worry about his winning legacy after four Super Bowl titles.
That’s enlightening, to find out the New England Patriots’ locker room guy, Jim McNally, was nicknamed “The Deflator” because he was trying to lose, no, not games, but weight.

Maybe Jenny Craig should have been the one checking the air pressure of the footballs.

Our games tell us who we are. I read that maybe 30 years ago. As if we didn’t already know. We’re people who think winning is more important than anything, and anybody on our side is upstanding while the other guys (or girls) are just short of evil.

That billboard erected near Met Life Stadium in New Jersey, the one with white letters on a green background that says, “#TomShady,” and in smaller letters “J-E-T-S, Jets! Jets! Jets!” Partisan. Clever, yes, but partisan.

We grow up hammered by contradictions, the nonsense about the one great scorer not caring if we won or lost but how we played the game — try telling that to Jed York — and the reminder that “if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.”

In New York and Philly, Barry Bonds is a pariah. In the Bay Area, he’s a hero. Simply because of regional bias. He’s our guy, and that means he can no wrong. Right? Or at least little wrong.

The same for Tom Brady — admission forthcoming — whose father I’ve met several times. Tom Jr. went to a high school in San Mateo with high moral standards, Serra, named for a priest who helped create the chain of missions in what would become California and who just was declared a saint by the pope. Bonds also graduated from Serra, by the way.

Jockeys have stimulated horses with battery devices. Ballplayers have corked bats. Boxers have inserted weights in their gloves. Hockey players have bent their sticks beyond the legal limit. NBA players clutch and grab. Offensive linemen hold.

Back in the 1970s, when the Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers were champions, their equipment people would oil the football to make it slippery — or even write obscenities on the ball. Compared to that, a wee bit of air missing seems insignificant. Anything goes, until you get caught.

What remains confusing is why Brady, if the charges are correct — and Thursday the Patriots produced a 20,000-word response, the “War and Peace” of sporting denials, and the NFLPA stepped in with a lawsuit, naturally — felt he needed an advantage in a game New England would win 45-7 over Indianapolis.

He could have thrown a grapefruit, and the Pats wouldn’t have been challenged.

There are inconsistencies in NFL justice. Brady is suspended for four games for, well, cheating, while originally before the video of Ray Rice attacking his future wife in an elevator was made public, Rice was suspended for only two games.

That penalty was expanded, of course, but a cartoon in the Boston Globe offered a powerful observation on the rulings. “Four games?!!” the guy at the breakfast table screams to his wife. She answers, “If he’d deflated the footballs by punching them in an elevator, it would be only two.”

There’s a perception the Patriots get away with anything, making videotapes of signals by Jets’ defensive coaches, officials’ calls, the tuck rule decision against the Raiders. Now comes Deflategate. Compared to the others, this is incidental.

Sports, we’re told, are all about integrity. Until you’re about to lose the game. Or your job. That doesn’t make it correct, but it does make it real.

Brady helped win four Super Bowls. He does commercials. He’s married to a model, Gisele Bundchen. He’s on the A-list of celebrities. The air may have been let out of the ball or may not have been. The whole incident will do nothing than draw more attention to Brady and the Pats, almost all of it positive in New England, much of it negative everywhere else.

His legacy is secure. The questions will have no affect on Brady getting voted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. If he’s not a Hall of Fame quarterback, then there aren’t any.

Brady grew up watching Joe Montana win four Super Bowls for the 49ers and so inevitably a comparison is made. They’re different people, but they both have a link to Northern California athletic greatness.

No deflation there.

About The Author

Art Spander

Art Spander

Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on and Email him at
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