I know, I know, you are sick of this story. I am too actually but I just have to get this out of my system so that I can move on.
Does this story really truly matter in the big scheme of life? Of course not, this planet and humanity has much greater issues to confront but I do think it is a perfect allegory for the narcissism, selfishness and triviality of humanity especially in the modern world.
So lets cut to the chase, do I think Tom Brady knew what was going on? Of course. Do I think Tom Brady can truly believe he did nothing wrong? Of course.
Huh, you ask?
Rationalization is one of the great powers of a human being. People do horrible things every day, millions of times a day and rarely does any of these people think they are bad and have truly done something wrong.
One of the great tools of behavior that allows us to rationalize the bad things we humans do is passive-aggression. It allows us to influence other people and have them do things without actually explicitly telling them to do something.
I think you know where I am going with this but this is how I imagine the relationship between Tom Brady and team equipment assistant John Jastremski led to Deflategate.
Tom : Nice to meet you John. I am sure you do a great job for the Patriots. If you ever need something, want me to sign something, just let me know. By the way, I like a softer football, it’s easier to handle. I know there are rules about that kind of thing and I would never ask you to do something to break the rules but I just thought you would like to know that is how I prefer my footballs. I think a softer football will help the Patriots win and I know you will always do your part to help the Patriots, the team that you work for, win. I know you are a smart guy, just figure out a way to get the footballs the way I like them without breaking any rules, I am sure you can figure out some magical solution. Nice to meet you and have a great day John.
Tom : John, sure I will sign a football for your grandfather even though I am pretty pissed those damn balls last week felt like rocks. I would never ask you to deflate a football, that would be against the rules but those balls actually felt like they were over-inflated. You really need to figure out a way to get those damn balls the way I like them.
Tom : John, I am just curious about what you plan to do after you are finished working in the NFL?
John : What do you mean? I hope to work in the NFL for a long, long time, it has always been my dream to make this a career.
Tom : Oh really, I did not realize that, week after week I can barely handle these crappy over-inflated footballs that I get handed in games, I just assumed you did not care about working in the NFL if you do not even care about how your quarterback plays.
Tom : John, I have no idea what happened this past week but I must say I think you have a great career ahead of you with the Patriots and in the NFL. Obviously we both know you would never break an NFL rule but whatever magic you have worked to make these footballs just the way I like them, let me just say, keep it up. They even feel like the ball has been deflated to the perfect PSI even though we both know that is not it, that would not be legal and there is no way for you to actually even do that, all I know is that I am a happy man and I am very happy with you. Keep up the great work John. By the way, you want me to sign a few footballs for you to sell on eBay, I mean to give to your friends?
Then the rationalization sets in, the mind kind of rewrites the memories as needed, and then suddenly we have Tom in a press conference saying, “I don’t believe so” when asked if he is a cheater.
This is what human beings do, we all witness it on a daily basis.
But let’s be honest, is Tom Brady the person you are looking to for guidance in how to live a moral life of great character? Sure, he is very pretty, rich, a heck of a football player and as charming as a two dollar bill but you already know this is not a man you should be looking to when looking for a role model.
Actually, that is exactly the problem, people do look to him as a role model, they want to be rich and married to a supermodel and in the Hall of Fame so they rationalize his behavior for him for their own benefit. The rationalization keeps their silly dream alive and just like a child being taught right or wrong without even knowing it they will copy this behavior when they want something that will make their life a bit better and one step closer to that Tom Brady type fantasy life.
So does this make Tom Brady evil? Of course not, it means he is simply a human being and hopefully one day he will admit to what wrong he has done not only to the world but more importantly to himself. At that time we then can forgive him as we should if we are human beings of any real character.
It’s just that until that happens, he has deflated the integrity of all humanity just a tiny bit and I am not sure how much air we have left in this great ball that is our integrity.