Ask Tom Brady, and he’ll tell you he cares about one thing: Winning. He cares about the team. He doesn’t care about stats or the Hall of Fame or his own legacy.
But he does. His actions tell the whole story.
Embattled in DeflateGate, Brady has adamantly stuck to his guns, saying he did nothing. There was speculation that he would give it up if he had to make that claim under oath, but he didn’t. He went to court and swore that he did nothing wrong.
The guy wants his name cleared like nothing else. He does not want this to hang over his head and tarnish his legacy. He doesn’t want it to take away from his stats or his brilliant career.
And that’s because he’s looking at the end of the road. He’s thinking about his future, about the Hall of Fame, and he’s hoping he gets in. He wants it.
Statistically, he’s better than a first-ballot Hall of Famer. It doesn’t even feel like there should be a vote. He’s been one of the most prolific players the NFL has ever seen, he’s won Super Bowl after Super Bowl, and he’s been at the top of his game forever. He’s the surest lock for the Hall of Fame that has ever existed.
Now, this scandal puts a small wrench in things. If the NFL proves Brady cheated, what does that do to his chances? Could voters decide that he should not get in, or perhaps that he should get in—just not on the first ballot? Could this mess with the PSI of a football keep him from doing something that seemed like the surest deal in the world just a few months ago?
On one hand, the answer seems to be a resounding no. Even as this has been going on, when accusations have been made, no one has suggested Brady’s greatness is only because of the deflated footballs. People have acknowledged that he would have won that blowout game if he was throwing a bowling ball.
So that’s not the issue, but Hall of Fame voting can be tricky. Little issues that go toward the integrity of the game can keep people out.
No doubt Brady has thought of Pete Rose, barred from the baseball Hall of Fame for betting on baseball. Rose was one of those players—like Brady—who looked like a sure thing during his playing career. He still holds the record for hits, all these years later, at 4,256. Numbers like that make him forever one of baseball’s elite.
So don’t laugh at the thought that Brady is worried about the Hall of Fame. He is. He knows what his stats say and what his career says. He’s knows he should be in with ease. But he also know how hard it can be to get in, even when most people think you deserve it. After all, most fans think Rose should be in, and still he sits on the sidelines.
And that is why Brady is so dedicated to clearing his name. Because he saw those legends get their yellow jackets this weekend, he wants one of them for himself, and he’s not taking any chances.