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Tom Brady Is a Scapegoat: They All Cheat

Tom Brady 2011
By Jeffrey Beall (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The current obsession with alleged cheating by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots is just another example of scapegoating. Did they cheat? Sure, they probably did. But cheating is commonplace in sports. It’s part of the culture. They all cheat.
Cheating has been an issue in sports for decades. You can read books about it, such as Crooked: A History of Cheating in Sports and Foul Play: The Dark Arts of Cheating in Sport, for example. It’s all over the internet – see this LA Times column.
It’s part of the culture of sports. You can see it in any game. Watch a basketball game, for example, and you’ll hear an announcer say: “That was a good foul.” That’s an oxymoron. A foul is a bad thing, so how can there be a good one?
The idea of the good foul is one version of how sports have become tainted by a culture of cheating. Sure tactically it may make sense to foul a bad free throw shooter, but it violates the spirit of the rules. Fouls are a bad thing. We shouldn’t cheer on people who do it.
Here’s another – one of Michael Jordan’s greatest moments. Watch this play and in particular watch Jordan’s left hand on the defender, 5 seconds into the clip:

He cheated. Jordan pushed off with the left hand and he got away with it. This is in an official NBA video of the 60 greatest playoff moments. They’re glorifying cheating.
Here’s another one – the Pacer’s Reggie Miller pushes Knick guard Greg Anthony down to the floor, and then intercepts a pass, leading to another score. But he got away with it. Another great moment in NBA history?

Disclosure – The author was a New York Knicks fan (now a Heat fan but with some residual love for the Knicks), is still a NY Giants and Miami Dolphins fan, and a Mets/Marlins fan. Yes, that Reggie Miller play still burns.

We’re seeing a lot of scapegoats lately. Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice are NFL scapegoats for domestic violence. The punishments those two have faced from the league are far beyond what should have happened under rules and precedent. But when the media shined a spotlight on those stories, the NFL overreacted to make it look as if they actually care about the underlying issue. They don’t. They care about public relations and the bottom line.
Let’s compare what happens when the media doesn’t make something a big issue. Back in the summer of 2013 two executives from the Denver Broncos were arrested for DUI.

Heckert and Russell
Heckert and Russell

Both received minimal suspensions. Matt Russell got a 7-month jail sentence. But he only got a 60-day suspension, and Tom Heckert only got a 30-day suspension. Both are still with the Broncos. Neither Peterson nor Rice did any jail time. But Rice was terminated by the Ravens and missed the entire season due to an NFL “indefinite suspension,” even though an arbitrator later overturned his suspension. Similarly Peterson missed all but one game of the 2014 season on an indefinite suspension that was overturned. Peterson is unlikely to return to the Vikings.
Another of the big scapegoats is Alex Rodriguez. Did A-Rod use performance enhancing drugs? Probably. But that’s been common in professional sports for a while now. Sure the leagues say they want to stop it, but at the same time they’re happy to make billions off the athletic performances. While so many athletes pretend to be apologetic and beg for mercy, A-Rod has the balls to stand up for himself and fight for his fair share of the billion-plus he’s made his team and MLB. Let’s face it – he’s being treated as an uppity negro.
Now look at Derek Jeter, who has been lauded for “doing it the right way.” Yeah, by cheating. He was caught cheating back in 2010, pretending he was hit by a pitch and even feigning injury. He got away with it and was even applauded by the other team’s manager:

Jeter, who stood doubled over while receiving attention from a trainer, confessed that the ball hit the end of his bat and he sold the call to Barksdale with a good acting job.
”He told me to go to first base. I’m not going to tell him I’m not going to first, you know,” Jeter said.
”It’s part of the game. My job is to get on base. Fortunately for us it paid off at the time, but I’m sure it would have been a bigger story if we would have won that game.”
Maddon disliked the call but didn’t fault Jeter.
”If our guys had did it, I would have applauded that. It’s a great peformance on his part,” the Tampa Bay manager said. ”Several players are very good at that. And again, I’m not denigrating it. If our guy does it, I’m very happy with that if we end up getting the call. … Fortunately it didn’t cost us.”

When I was much younger I played basketball. I remember being taught how to cheat. Block out with your arms up, not low. You’re less likely to be called for a foul. Reach in with both hands instead of one and you’re less likely to get a foul. Several years ago I played in a charity golf event and we had a former NFL player in our foursome. I’ve never seen anyone cheat so much. They all cheat. There’s a culture of cheating in sports.
As for Brady and the Patriots, the game is over. The Pats beat the Colts 45-7. The balls didn’t matter that much. If anything should come of the incident, the NFL should accept its own responsibility and take custody of the game balls. But it’s far easier to point the finger at Brady and make him a scapegoat.

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