It is “more probable than not” that we sports fans are very confused right now about what to think of Tom Brady.

In February, we watched him win his 4th Super Bowl with the New England Patriots and cement his personal legacy as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

And, yet, here we are 4 months later, and this same NFL hero seems to be disgraced by the “Deflategate” scandal.

Or is he?

Last week, a Report was released by a league-appointed attorney (Tedd Wells) after investigating whether the Patriots deflated balls in their AFC title game against the Indianapolis Colts.  It outlined the scenario(s) that it is “more probable than not” that Brady cheated.

Specifically, the report revealed that Brady allegedly enlisted assistance from two Patriots equipment personnel by illegally deflating footballs to his liking for a competitive advantage in at least the aforementioned game with the Colts and possibly others in 2014.

Subsequently, the NFL suspended Brady for 4 games without pay and penalized the Patriots with $1 million in fines & the loss of draft picks.

So, what are we to make of all of this?  Are a couple of deflated footballs enough to tarnish Brady’s Hall of Fame legacy?

At least in the eyes of the NFL, he violated the integrity of the game, even if it was just for a playing rules violation.

Despite this, I personally do not believe this should taint Tom Brady’s overall legacy.

Yes, Brady took it upon himself to find some small advantage and help his team win.  However, I don’t think the level of cheating in this regard is high enough for Brady to lose his chance at the Hall of Fame.

In fact, I rated Tom Brady’s actions in this scandal on a low level in my RANKING SYSTEM FOR SPORTS CHEATERS.

My system (below) focuses on rating cheaters in pro sports based on the damage to the integrity of the sport they caused in three LEVELS:


  • Low level of damage to the integrity of the sport.
  • The athlete/team has been confirmed to cheat, or has publicly admitted it.
  • He/she/they may or may not have received discipline from their respective sport governing body.
  • Overall legacy probably not affected in history.
  • Statistical historical record not diminished.
    • Examples:
      • Tom Brady (2014-5 – NFL “Deflategate” scandal – 4 game suspension);
      • Michael Pineda (2014 – Caught with pine tar on neck – 10 game suspension).


  • Moderate level of damage to the integrity of the sport.
  • Individual athlete who has confirmed to cheat or publicly admitted it.
  • Team who has received multiple small rules violations under the same ownership.
  • Received discipline from governing body.
  • The athlete will likely not get into their respective hall of fame.
  • A major ding to the athlete or team’s legacy.
    • Examples:
      • Alex Rodriguez (2014 – MLB player suspended for entire season after “Biogenesis” scandal;);
      • Marion Jones (2000 – Track star stripped of Olympic medals after admitting use of steroids);
      • Ben Johnson (1988 – Canadian sprinter stripped of 1988 Olympic Medal – Doping);
      • Tonya Harding (1994 – Ice skater failed attempt to break leg of competitor Nancy Kerrigan);
      • Rosie Ruiz (1980 – Faked Boston Marathon victory).
      • New England Patriots – (Under ownership of Bob Kraft – “Spygate” in 2007; “Deflategate” in 2014-5.)


  • An individual athlete or team engaged in cheating so severe, it affected the integrity of the sport at the highest level.
  • The legacy of athlete/team is forever tainted.
  • The athlete/team’s statistical accomplishments are negated.
  • The athlete/team is disgraced.
  • Likely banned from competition in the sport for a lifetime.
    • Examples:
      • Lance Armstrong (Cyclist stripped of Tour de France titles from 1999-2005 for doping; Probably the worst individual sports cheater in history; he tried to bully & intimidate innocent people who threatened to expose him);
      • Pete Rose (He admitted to betting on games he managed & played in from 1984-7; Agreed to become permanently ineligible from baseball in 1987);
      • Tim Donaghy (2007 – NBA official caught betting on games & admitted to fixing games);
      • 1976 East German Swim Team (Ladies swim team stripped of 18 medals (11 gold) caught using PEDs like hormones and steroids obtained through a government program);
      • 2009-11 New Orleans Saints (“Bountygate” scandal – Several players & coaches involved in a pay to injure scheme; Head coach suspended entire 2012);
      • 1919 Chicago Black Sox (Eight players paid by gamblers to purposely throw World Series; put on trial for conspiracy & all banned from baseball for life).

(Note: I have chosen not to consider the legacies of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, or any other “suspected” PED users that have either not been convicted in a court of law (or have been found innocent), never failed a drug test, nor have they ever been disciplined for PED use by MLB.

Although some think these players have cheated based on allegations made in the Mitchell Report, or by other players, I find it unfair to include any athlete on a list of confirmed cheaters who merely have been suspected without hard evidence.)

(Also, I have chosen to put individuals convicted of doping in a less severe level than full teams, as I find it more egregious that multiple athletes, along with coaches and even governments would conspire in this way.)


I think each major sport could benefit from instituting a rating system for rules violators in varying levels similar to mine.

Perhaps then we could understand better the specific point of view the sport sees in each violator, and the penalties handed down from there.

By not having a rating system for violators like we do now, each confirmed cheater could be seen on the same level despite how small or large the infraction, and thus, those who committed lesser crimes could unfairly be judged over time.

And, if sports entities could be more direct and clear about their violators, perhaps this could help sports fans & the media gauge an athlete or team’s legacy more realistically, rather than based on pure subjective opinions.

In the end, no level of cheating is to be desired, but we should be careful not to rip down the legacy of a great sports hero over a small rules infraction.  Better organization by sports teams in handing out penalties to their violators could help.



Source : Wells Report

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