By Paul Wanecski
Tom Brady has been suspended and rightfully so. Refusing to cooperate with an NFL investigation (also known as being a whiny-little-ninny) should now be a lesson to players; just be transparent when you are asked about something. Aside from the circus that has become his agent, Don Yee, stomping his feet and screaming to the masses that this suspension is unprecedented and without merit (and accusing the Colts of collusion, which is actually an interesting topic), let’s consider the information provided in Brady’s press conference following #DeflateGate coming to the surface.
When a player is questioned about something that is a violation of the rules, they should turn to the NFLPA (National Football League Players Association) for guidance. For Brady to hold a press conference denying that he had no knowledge of football’s being altered feels nearly identical to Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Rafael Palmeiro being asked questions on Capitol Hill (when Major League Baseball was being federally investigated) saying nearly identical things.
In an article posted by Cnbc.com, Fred Imbert and Everett Rosenfeld summarized the quotes of what Tom Brady had to say at his press conference January 22nd, 2015 when being asked specifically about the #DeflateGate scandal. Here we will compare what Brady said to the Capitol Hill hearing on steroids in baseball which was held on March 17th, 2005. This hearing was composed of several players, most notably: Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire.
“( I ) would never do anything outside the rules of play”
“I have no knowledge of anything – I have no knowledge of any wrongdoing”
“I don’t know what happened over the course of the process with the footballs. I was preparing for my own job and doing what I needed to do”
“I have never used steroids. Period, I do not know how to say it any more clearly than that.”
"To be clear, I have never taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs."
“I believe in fair play and I respect the league, and everything they’re doing to try and create a very competitive playing field for all the NFL teams.”
“Every team is trying to do the best they can to win every week.”
“Everyone is obviously trying to figure out what happened” and that he was “as surprised as anybody”
Through a statement read by his lawyer "Everything I have heard about steroids and human growth hormones is that they are very bad for you, even lethal. I would never put anything dangerous like that in my body.”
“I have never intentionally used steroids. Never. Ever. Period. Ultimately, although I never intentionally put a banned substance into my body, the independent arbitrator ruled that I had to be suspended under the terms of the program” This was issued in a public statement following his suspension for steroid shortly after the hearing.
The only “honest” testimony of the Capitol Hill hearings came from Mark McGwire. He never admitted to taking steroids (he actually denied to speak on his past several times) instead he gave him opinion on the sport and the people who play it. At the time, his testimony was seen as an admission of guilt because Palmeiro and Sosa both so vehemently denied the use of performance enhancing drugs, where it appears that McGwire tried to avoid that admission. McGwire, when asked about his role and stance on steroids in baseball, as quoted from Cnn.com,
posted March 17th, 2005:
“I’m not going to go into the past or talk about my past. I’m here to make a positive influence on this.”
When asked about Jose Canseco’s book that had recently been released concerning steroids in baseball, McGwire responded with “My lawyers have advised me that I cannot answer these questions without jeopardizing my friends, my family and myself.”
“There is a problem with steroid use in baseball”
When asked again about Canseco, McGwire said “It should be enough that
you consider the source of the statement”
"If a player answers 'no,' he simply will not be believed. If he answers 'yes,' he risks public scorn and endless government investigations."
“What I will not do ... is participate in naming names and implicating my friends."
To speak on the testimony from Sosa and Palmeiro, Sosa later admitted to taking steroids after a failed test in 2009. For Palmeiro, on August 1st 2005, less than 5 month after his statements, he was suspended for steroid usage. While Palmeiro did take a polygraph test to show proof that he had never taken performance enhancing drugs, he was never asked that question directly. Instead, he admitted to not knowing that steroids were contained in a B12 Vitamin that he had taken. Sosa, Palmeiro and McGwire have yet to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Most press conferences rarely shed anything more than a dim light on the truth, it is obvious that Brady navigated well outside of the evidence that he was completely without knowledge of footballs being deflated to meet his preference. It goes without saying that press conferences are lip-service. They rarely give any insight on the issue at hand. They do serve as a platform that can turn into a hangman's galley once the truth leaks out. Brady has done exactly that. For those children that idolized Tom Brady, their parents will have the difficult task of shattering the dream that he was a role model.
Would a Buffalo Bills week 2 victory against a Brady-less Patriots really matter to Bills fans if Buffalo was to win the AFC East? Nearly nothing would be able to tarnish that accomplishment in the eyes of Bills fans, regardless if Brady played against the Bills or not. NFL teams fight against injury and suspensions all season; it becomes an easy excuse for losing. Will Brady’s suspension be reduced? We have to assume it will be considered but it will not be wiped off the books entirely. Rex Ryan has publicly stated that he wants Brady at One Bills Drive under center when the Bills beat the Patriots week two of this upcoming season. The bigger goal is to get a head start on the division, regardless if Brady is playing. Of course, Patriot fans will see this very differently. Was Atlanta recently sanctioned for pumping in fake crowd noise during games? Yes they were and they admitted to doing so when questioned. Was San Diego wiping down footballs with a towel that contained a foreign substance? Yes they were and they did not hide that. Were teams questioned about warming footballs under a heater in a cold weather game? That happened and the teams did not try to hide those events. The lesson is to be honest and not a whiny-little-ninny.