Column: Celebrate Brady but remember he’s not perfect

Sep 29, 2021, 11:37 AM | Updated: 11:54 pm
Tom Brady es entrevistado en el terreno de juego tras la victoria de Tampa Bay sobre Kansas City en...

Tom Brady es entrevistado en el terreno de juego tras la victoria de Tampa Bay sobre Kansas City en el Super Bowl jugado el 7 de febrero del 2021 en Tampa, Florida. Fue el séptimo Super Bowl de Brady, que se sumó a los seis que ganó con New England. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano, FIle)

(AP Photo/Steve Luciano, FIle)

Tom Brady’s return to New England will surely be a massive lovefest, at least up until the moment he lines up under center Sunday night for Tampa Bay. With good reason, because there’s a lot to celebrate for the greatest quarterback of his time and the legacy he somehow keeps writing at the age of 44.

Everyone knows about the six Super Bowl rings for the Patriots and the late-game comebacks so numerous they’re hard to count. Brady also won 219 regular-season games for New England and was 30-10 overall in the playoffs, with 73 touchdown passes.

Along the way, he and coach Bill Belichick transformed the Patriots into a juggernaut the likes of which the NFL has never seen. Brady’s numbers are so impressive that he’ll be a first ballot Hall of Famer, assuming, of course, he ever decides to retire.

But while he gets well-deserved accolades for 20 seasons of spectacular work in New England, let’s not forget some other numbers.

At least five footballs softened by taking some air out of them in the 2015 AFC championship game against Indianapolis. A four-game suspension for Brady for his part in deflating them, and a $1 million fine and loss of two draft picks for the Patriots.

No, it probably won’t get mentioned on the NBC telecast because it doesn’t fit the narrative. Sunday’s game is a moment to celebrate a remarkable run with one team and one coach, not to dwell on the mistakes made along the way.

Like it or not, though, Deflategate is part of Brady’s legacy. It always will be, even though he steadfastly denies the allegations that led to his suspension.

It may not matter to New England fans, who for the most part believe their quarterback was unjustly punished to begin with. But it needs to be remembered, just like all the winning last minute drives and the Super Bowl wins.

The NFL said Brady cheated. Period.

The league suspended Brady after a 243-page report from investigator Ted Wells said two former equipment managers were involved in letting air out of the balls and that Brady “was at least generally aware” of the scheme.

In upholding the suspension, commissioner Roger Goodell noted that Brady destroyed his cell phone right about the time he met with Wells to answer questions about the deflated footballs. Goodell said Brady did so “even though he was aware that the investigators had requested access to text messages and other electronic information that had been stored on that phone.”

No, there was no smoking gun linking Brady to the deflation. He wasn’t caught with a needle and a bag of footballs behind the grandstands that day in Foxborough.

But there was enough circumstantial evidence for the NFL to come down — and come down hard — on the parties involved. Footballs don’t just suddenly deflate, especially when those in possession of the opposing team kept all their air.

Brady and the Patriots would go on to trounce the Colts in the game, leading 17-7 at half before the deflation was discovered, and winning 45-7. A few weeks later, Brady and Belichick celebrated as they won their fourth Super Bowl together, this one over Seattle.

Two years later, they would win the Super Bowl again, after Brady missed the first quarter of the season while serving his suspension. New England owner Robert Kraft thumbed his nose at Goodell, calling the win “unequivocally the sweetest” of all the team’s championship wins.

No single incident should define Brady’s career, of course, and Deflategate barely registers anymore when it comes to evaluating his incredible success. Winning six Super Bowls in New England and adding another in Tampa Bay while playing well into his 40s is what Brady will be remembered for, and he’s done things no other quarterback can even hope to achieve.

Indeed, the most puzzling thing about Brady being involved in deflating game balls is that he seemed to feel he needed help to win. He didn’t, and if anyone thinks otherwise all they have to do is take a peek at the three Super Bowl rings he’s won since that year.

So celebrate him on Sunday in his return to Foxborough because you’ll never see any quarterback win seven Super Bowls again. Celebrate him on Sunday because, if he ever does retire, he’ll do so holding many other records that no other quarterback can even hope to match.

Just remember that even the greats aren’t necessarily perfect.


Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at [email protected] or

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Cross country coaches on leave after sex assault allegations

HUNTINGTON, Ind. (AP) — A northeastern Indiana university placed its women’s cross country head coach and an assistant on leave Thursday after two former runners claimed in a federal lawsuit they were doped and sexually assaulted. Huntington University, a private, Christian liberal arts university, said it placed head coach Lauren Johnson and assistant coach Curtis […]
17 hours ago
Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92's Victor Wembanyama signs autographs after the team's exhibitio...
Associated Press

Wembanyama’s 2-game Las Vegas exhibition stay ends with win

HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — Victor Wembanyama blocked a shot Thursday afternoon, ran to the other end of the court, went airborne from just inside the foul line, corralled an alley-oop pass with one hand and slammed home a dunk. The entire sequence lasted eight seconds. It may have been the signature moment — and there […]
17 hours ago
Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Luis Castillo tips his cap as he walks off the field after pitchi...
Associated Press

Manoah, Blue Jays vs Castillo, Mariners in playoff opener

TORONTO (AP) — There’s a whole lot riding on Alek Manoah’s first career playoff start, but the Toronto Blue Jays All-Star right-hander isn’t the least bit fazed about facing the Seattle Mariners in Friday’s wild-card opener. “My high school coach used to say pressure is something you put in your tires,” Manoah joked Thursday. “This […]
17 hours ago
Brazil's national soccer coach Adenor Leonardo Bachi, also known as Tite, poses for a portrait afte...
Associated Press

AP interview: Brazil coach Tite will stick to attack at WCup

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil coach Tite has so many attacking options for the World Cup that he can hardly fit half of them into his team. He promises to use as many of his forwards as he can in Qatar, though, no matter the opponent. “There will be opportunities for all (Brazil’s forwards),” […]
17 hours ago
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge follows through on a solo home run, his 62nd of the season, as Texas ...
Associated Press

Boosted by Judge, Yankees’ YES Network viewers increase 27%

NEW YORK (AP) — Boosted by Aaron Judge’s pursuit of Roger Maris’ American League home run record, Yankees games on the team’s YES Network averaged 368,000 viewers in the New York market this year, up 27% from 2021 and the most in 11 seasons. The network said Thursday the figure was for 126 telecasts. YES’s […]
17 hours ago
FILE - In this Aug. 11, 1936, file photo, America's Jesse Owens, center, salutes during the present...
Associated Press

Jesse Owens friend Luz Long’s silver medal up for auction

One of the most consequential Olympic medals ever awarded is on the auction block — the silver medal captured in 1936 by Germany’s Luz Long, the long jumper who walked arm in arm through the stadium with Jesse Owens to celebrate their triumphs while Adolf Hitler watched from the stands. Long’s family has decided to […]
17 hours ago
Column: Celebrate Brady but remember he’s not perfect