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8
may
2015
Wells Report Not Good for Brady

The Wells report is out, and to the surprise of few people (well, except perhaps our friends who are New England Patriots fans), it appears "more likely than not" that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady knew that two team employees had deflated footballs during last season's AFC championship game.

Although not definitive, text and phone records of the employees, one calling himself "the deflator," seem to confirm that the balls in question were, in fact, intentionally deflated, either under Brady's direction or, at the very least, his tacit approval. The employees and Brady are known to have a locker-room friendship, and the staffers' actions may have been a misdirected bit of hero worship, an effort to please a person some consider "America's quarterback."

What makes Brady look as guilty as the report suggests is the fact that he failed to turn over his own cell, text and computer records to Mr. Wells and his investigators. Generally, people with nothing to hide have nothing to hide and are eager to cooperate in order to exonerate themselves. Only Tom Brady knows for sure the contents of the information he failed to produce.

The report goes on to clear Pats owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick and the rest of the New England Patriots organization. Now it's up to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who's just not having a good year despite his reported $30 million pay check, to decide what penalties if any Brady and the others will face. Monetary fine, suspension or both, action must be taken. Conduct such as this cannot and should not be tolerated. And although he released a statement (otherwise recognized as a tirade) questioning the findings in the report, even team owner Kraft seems resigned to the fact that the NFL must dole out consequences.

Tom Brady has been handling footballs for most of his life, from childhood to high school, college, and the last 16 years as a professional quarterback. Tell me that he didn't know something was wrong with the balls on that fateful day back in January just by handling them. It just doesn't pass the smell test. Whether he ordered the deflation or some overzealous employees did what they thought he would want without his knowledge, the second he touched one of those deflated footballs (and there were several) he had to know something was amiss, and he had an obligation to say something. But he didn't.

So as we saw recently with Alex Rodriquez, who served a one-year suspension from the New York Yankees and sacrificed over $20 million in salary, cheaters must pay a price. Mr. Goodell, it's your play.

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The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Jeffrey M. Weiner and do not represent those of Marcum LLP, its partners or its employees.

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