Technically, the NFL’s Wells Report offered no proof that Tom Brady was guilty of wrongdoing in Deflategate.
But it threw him under the bus anyway, saying that he did not cooperate fully with the investigation into allegations that the New England Patriots deflated the footballs he used in the second half of the AFC championship game — making them easier for him to handle — and “it was more probable than not” that Brady “was at least generally aware” of what was going on.
That was more than enough for the media, which roasted the NFL’s Golden Boy and Michigan Man. (He had his defenders, too, but mostly his father, his agent and Patriots owner Robert Kraft.)
“Likely story,” read the headline in the Boston Globe, over a picture of Brady. And that was the hometown paper’s take.
In enemy territory, the New York Daily News took on Brady on its front and back covers. The front headline said “Great balls of liar,” and the back ran a caricature of Brady as Pinocchio with the head “Big nose, small balls.”
And the New York Post front: “Deflategate Tomshell: NFL probe has Brady … by the balls.”
A sampling of other reactions:
–THEMMQB.com: “Did Tom Brady cheat?”
–Chicago Tribune: “Tom Brady lied; only the consequences are open to debate.”
–Deadspin.com: “Tom Brady threw those poor ball-deflating jamokes under the bus.”
–Eric Wilbur, Boston Globe: “That image is gone, and it’s not because he deflated a few footballs. It’s gone because he lied about it. Tom Brady duped us all. Probably.”
–Rick Gosselin, Dallas Morning News: “Tom Brady of the impeccable record now has a blemish. An overinflated blemish. Hall of Famer Charles Haley was right: Tom Brady is a cheater.”
–Alex Marvez, foxsports.com, noted that an asterisk will forever be attached to Brady’s name: “It’s not the most egregious of offenses, but it’s still cheating.”
–Mike Freeman, bleacherreport.com: “Most rational people, most people who don’t have a horse in this race, will blame Brady, as we should. Because Tom Brady lied.”
–Eric Adelson, yahoo.com, via Twitter: “Would be funny if Tom Brady changed his jersey number to 12.5. #psifoxboro.”
–Related: Follow Schrader’s sports oddities in the Ticker.
So at best, they’re laughing at Brady. At worst, they’re calling him a liar and a cheat. Maybe they’ll lampoon him again this weekend on “Saturday Night Live.”
But those are just words. What’s next, as in how will the NFL punish Brady and the Patriots? There’s no smoking gun, but since when does Roger Goodell need one?
Fine him and the team? Take away draft picks?
Many think it’s more probable than not that the NFL will suspend Brady, and media guesstimates have run from two to eight games.
So who will be at quarterback when the Patriots open next season on a Thursday night? Dan Patrick asked NBC colleague Mike Florio this morning.
“I tell you what, it’s hard for me to not say Jimmy Garoppolo,” Florio said. “If it’s Tom Brady, then a different set of rules is being applied to Tom Brady than is applied to all the guys who get suspended for things completely unrelated to the integrity of the game.”
Contact Steve Schrader: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @schradz. ___
This article was written by Steve Schrader from Detroit Free Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.