In my lifetime, the most revered athlete to experience a fall from grace may be either Lance Armstrong or Tiger Woods. After seeing the downfall of the greatest cyclist and golfer of this generation (and perhaps ever), I wondered if any sports hero could survive heightened public scrutiny. Of note, I thought Derek Jeter and Peyton Manning might be the only superstars beyond reproach. Jeter rode off into the sunset with his reputation intact. On the other hand, Manning may not be as fortunate. In particular, the five-time NFL MVP allegedly used HGH when recovering from neck surgery several years ago. At the same time, we can’t overlook the “mooning” incident. Whether true or not, these accusations may lead to his removal from the already-small list of “squeaky-clean” superstar athletes.
Last month, attorney Ted Wells issued a 243-page investigative report (a.k.a. “The Wells Report”) regarding Deflategate. After three months and millions of dollars, he concluded, “It is more probable than not that Tom Brady was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of [Locker Room Attendant Jim] McNally and [Assistant Equipment Manager John] Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls.” Depending on your feelings towards the Patriots, you will interpret that sentence either as an indictment of Brady’s involvement or as insufficient evidence for a guilty verdict. Regardless, the NFL suspended Brady for four games based on the report’s conclusion and a lack of cooperation in the investigation. Furthermore, the league confiscated two draft picks and fined the team $1 million based on a lack of cooperation and a history of cheating (i.e. Spygate). Lest you believe the punished would accept the verdict without question, the Patriots have created a website to refute the report while Brady has filed an appeal of his suspension through the NFL Players Association. By the time the scandal is resolved, we’ll all be wishing we were talking about Favre’s re-retirements instead.
If you were interested enough to search for and find this site, you already know about the failure of Darko Milicic as an NBA player. However, you may be less familiar with the media hype that transformed the unproved Serbian player into the 2nd overall pick of the 2003 NBA Draft. With respect to all of the participants involved in creating or perpetuating the hype, perhaps the most egregious was ESPN Draft Analyst Chad Ford. As an aside, it was recently reported that someone revised Ford’s historical mock draft rankings on ESPN’s website. Unlike the North Korean hackers who effectively caused the resignation of Sony Pictures Co-Chair Amy Pascal, this hacker was kind to Ford and only made him seem better at his job. ESPN seems to believe Ford, who denied being personally involved, so I will too because what incentive does the network have to cover up such a scandal? Whether or not he should be believed, Ford has earned an Honorable Mention in my countdown of Top 10 Busts simply for his role in the Milicic debacle.
Somehow, 11 out of 12 footballs used by the New England Patriots in the 1st half of the 2015 AFC Championship Game became “significantly” deflated. At the time of this post, we’ve heard from Bill Belichick twice and Tom Brady once. Initially, they both embraced the strategy of deny, deny, deny. Now, Belichick is trying to play scientist and make excuses. Do I think either one did anything to alter the football directly? No. Do I think at least Brady knows who did? Yes. This post will expose the inconsistencies in their stories to the point of busting Tom Brady’s Golden Boy image. Whether this scandal (to be forever known as Deflategate) will tarnish his legacy, only time will tell.