Here we are on the other side of yet another New England Patriots victory. Nobody can deny that Tom Brady is exceptional — probably the greatest NFL Quarterback of all time (as much as it pains me to say that). However, the Brady and Belichick era is marred by controversy and that dims the shine of their accomplishments more than a little. Not only does it harm the history of the Patriots, but it’s brought about the end of the NFL’s glory days.
It all started with “Spygate” back in 2007 when the Patriots were accused of filming the New York Jets. While it’s not against league rules to film other teams, the filming can only be done in authorized areas and the Pats were caught offsides (ha). There were huge fines and docked draft picks and it was a mess but when it was all said and done, we’d entered a new era of football.
“Deflategate” was the next big issue for the Patriots. Under normal circumstances, I posit that some under-inflated footballs wouldn’t have been a huge issue in the NFL. However, with that single incident of cheating by the Pats, normal circumstances went out the window. Suddenly there was mass pandemonium involving physics, a media circus, and an intense investigation. Again there were docked draft picks and the incredible suspension of Tom Brady. And the NFL was tainted forever.
The Patriots keep winning. Some of that is skill but there’s always that inkling of doubt in the back of everyone’s minds. It leaves a sour taste in the mouth. It’s left the NFL open to quite a bit of scrutiny, too. If the games were more intriguing, if we weren’t guaranteed another Patriots win, would people be so interested in the inner workings of the NFL?
Since the Pats have started their indefatigable winning streak, we’ve seen the NFL attacked for other things that had previously gone overlooked. The concussions. The domestic abuse. The black-listing of players fighting for social justice. Perhaps people do care more about these issues today. Though I deeply believe if there was more chance within the NFL standings, people would still be willing to look past some of the NFL’s indiscretions. Thanks to the Patriot’s striking ability to win at any cost, a Pandora’s box has been opened that the NFL can never again close.