[Izak Post] Tom Brady’s four game suspension was recently upheld by the NFL, and this whole ordeal has made me think about cheating in sports. When I first heard about Tom Brady and his alleged involvement in deflating footballs before the game, I thought, “Tom Brady is a piece of crap, cheater, and I hate him and the Patriots.”
Of course I would think this because Tom Brady was cheating.
Normally, I agree with Frank Deford, and the whole time I was listening to his lecture on the fairness of the game and how Tom Brady committed a sacrilegious act on the game of football, I was nodding my head and agreeing with Deford. I was doing this up until he said that this was like a spit ball in baseball and that it was a “terrible mistake in looking upon someone like Gaylord Perry — a pitcher infamous for loading up his deliveries with what we quaintly call "foreign substances" — as a sassy, picaresque figure, who was merely tilting at the windmills of authority. But that view is nonsense. Perry and his ilk did not abuse baseballs; they abused baseball.”
As soon as Frank Deford compared Tom Brady’s act to spit balls, I completely disagreed with Deford, but I was not quite sure why I disagreed. I love baseball. One of my favorite things about baseball is its quirky stories and figures who do odd things; such as Ty Cobb sharpening his spikes, Cubs outfielders hiding baseballs in the Ivy, or pitchers trying to gain an advantage by using spit on the ball. To me, these acts are fun, childlike pranks we can rejoice in and remember when we were young and playing a game (or something, I may not know for sure why I love this about baseball).
So, now I had an internal conflict. How can I love these baseball hijinks but hate Tom Brady. Wasn’t Tom Brady doing exactly what my beloved baseball players do? Do I just hate Tom Brady because, as my wife would say, “he has a face you want to slap.” I don’t think so.
After spending way too much mental energy on this topic, I decided there was a distinct difference between what a pitcher does when he spits on the ball and what Tom Brady did. When a pitcher puts a foreign substance on the ball, he does it in front of everyone. If caught, the pitcher risks immediate ejection. On the other hand, Tom Brady did not take personal risk for what he did. Brady had a lackey deflate the balls for him. Even worse, this transgression was done off the playing field and out of the sight of the referees. And the worst thing about it, if the referees would have discovered the balls were flat, which they did at half time, Tom Brady was not risking anything because he was not the one taking the risk, the ball boys were. Nothing traced back to Tom Brady. This is distinctively different from what a spit-baller risks. Tom Brady wanted to cheat, but he lacked the courage to do it himself. Brady did it in such a way that allowed him to escape personal liability.
So does the lack of accountability on the part of Brady makes what Brady did an assault on the game and what baseball players do fun trickery? I believe there is a clear distinction. Had Brady been deflating the footballs during the course of a play using a needle he had hid in his jock strap, I think I would find that fun and silly. Instead, Tom Brady’s participation in Deflate-Gate was cowardly, and he deserves his four game suspension.