(The Washington Post) – Judge Richard M. Berman soon will rule on whether Tom Brady will be suspended or play, and long forgotten will be the matter of whether Tom Brady is guilty or innocent. The DeflateGate saga long ago stopped being about what Brady actually did, what he actually knew, what competitive advantage he did or didn’t gain. Underneath all the endless legal maneuvering, Brady’s chance to clear his name vanished.
Brady, and perhaps Brady alone, knows what happened with the Patriots’ footballs before kickoff of the AFC championship game last January. He steadfastly has said he did nothing wrong. The NFL contends he knew of a systemic operation to deflate the balls below what league rules allowed, but in no way have they proved it. Did Tom Brady cheat? We don’t know, and we probably never will.
Many rushed to judge Brady in the aftermath of the NFL-commissioned Wells Report and believed the league was justified in suspending Brady. I was one of them. The interceding months have changed my opinion. The most honest thing you can say about whether Brady intentionally and illegally ordered footballs to be deflated is that we don’t know. Berman’s smacking down of the NFL in open court – in which he called Commissioner Roger Goodell’s inference that Brady helmed a “scheme” to deflate the footballs based on evidence from the Wells Report a “quantum leap” – helped reveal the NFL’s weak case.