On Sunday evening, the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons squared off in the Super Bowl with the Patriots scoring 25 unanswered points in the final 17 minutes of the game to force overtime and eventually win the game in the sudden death situation.
The high-octane scoring offenses were stifled in the first quarter of play as both teams went scoreless.The Falcons got on the scoreboard first with a 5 yard touchdown run from Devonta Freeman. They quickly added to their lead with a 19 yard touchdown pass to Austin Hooper from Matt Ryan, the NFL’s Most Valuable Player. The Patriots continued their plummet as quarterback Tom Brady threw an interception that was returned 82 yards for a Falcons touchdown. After a touchdown in the third quarter, the Falcons led 28-3 and the game seemed like it was over.
A touchdown in the third quarter brought the Patriots within 19 points, but with 8:31 left in the fourth quarter, Dont’a Hightower stripped Ryan to stimulate the Patriots comeback. Soon enough, the Falcons’ hopes of winning the Super Bowl dropped faster than Lady Gaga did from the roof of the stadium during the halftime show. The Patriots proceeded to score two touchdowns to tie the game at 28 following a spectacular catch from wide receiver Julian Edelman and well engineered drives by Brady. With all the momentum on their side, the Patriots drove the ball down the field during overtime and handed the ball off to White who scored the game-winning touchdown.
Brady won the Super Bowl MVP as he threw for 466 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Now, there are plenty of football fans who are heralding Brady as the greatest player in football history. They claim that it was incredible how a player was able to overcome adversity to win his fifth Super Bowl. Sophomore Alex Hua claims that Brady is indeed the best of all time because he managed to get four rings prior to the Deflategate incident. But there are also those who side with Commissioner Goodell and lack respect for the star quarterback because he was caught cheating.
During the 2014 playoffs, the Patriots squared off with the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game. After Brady threw an interception, the Colts realized that the football felt underinflated. After being measured, it was concluded that 11 of the 12 Patriots footballs were underinflated by at least 1.2 pounds per square inch. The Patriots, specifically Brady, were accused of coordinating this deflation process on the basis of ambiguous texts, Brady’s unwillingness to share his text messages, and the fact that one of the Patriots equipment managers took all the balls into the restroom with him for about two minutes.
This was not the Patriots first experience with cheating in recent years. In 2007, the team was caught videotaping another team’s hand signals and ended up paying a hefty fine and forfeiting a draft pick. Now, the point here is not to expose Brady as a quarterback who is not talented or did not earn his championships. But is a player really the greatest in football history if he had to cheat to get there?
This was the NFL’s first incident with a team purposely deflating the footballs to gain an advantage. At the time of the incident, Brady commented on the situation saying, “I didn’t put one thought into the football. Once I approve the ball, that’s the ball I expect out there on the field.” As a quarterback, Brady constantly has control of the ball and should be used to the feel of the ball. Even if the quarterback was not paying attention to the weight of the ball, 1.2 pounds should make a big enough difference to prove that the balls are underinflated. Yet, he neglected to make that realization which is a good indication that he was guilty.
In all honesty, deflating the game balls is not that big of a deal. However, the fact that Brady lacked the integrity to resist the temptation of cheating severely damaged his reputation as a player and in my opinion, distinguishes him from the greats who earned their reputation through hard work. Again, Brady is still a talented quarterback, but maybe fans should think twice before proclaiming him the greatest player of all time.