New England Patriots' Tom Brady: Cheater or champion?

What did Tom Brady know and when did he know it? Is there a “cancer” on the New England Patriots and the National Football League?

Did the New England Patriot quarterback have improper relations with two equipment managers who allegedly colluded back in January to deflate the team’s footballs to make them easier to throw and catch during that frigid AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts? 

Or is Brady, who is generally regarded as one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL, being set up by a vast league-wide conspiracy? His agent, Don Yee went right there in a statement in which Yee suggested that “it may be more probable than not that the league cooperated with the Colts in perpetrating a sting operation.”

Move over, ABSCAM. Make room for PATSCAM.

Who’s got the popcorn? This is getting good. I remember that game, a 45-7 blowout by the Patriots. It was a snoozer. Now that investigator Ted Wells has released his report on “Deflategate”, this part of the story is more exciting. 

Finally, this whole scandal may rest on text messages which will never supposed to see the light of day, messages between two Patriots employees — Jim McNally, the locker room attendant, and John Jastremski, the team’s equipment manager. Neither of whom seemed to have a very high opinion of Brady or his ability to put points on the board without a helping hand from a higher power — i.e., the equipment guys. 

According to the Wells report, McNally and Jastremski “participated in a deliberate effort to release air from patriots game balls…” 

We might call the messages between these two sophomoric, but that would be an insult to the intelligence and maturity-level of sophomores. 

When there is a scandal, isn’t the person who holds the key to the whole thing always some lower-level employee, like say an intern?

And lastly, whether you think this dustup is serious business or much ado about nothing depends largely on partisanship, that is, what team you root for. You can bet the fans in Indianapolis have made up their mind already. We can expect them to call for an independent prosecutor any minute.

Wasn’t the idea that we were supposed to watch sports to take our mind off politics?  

My generation of X’ers got our earliest civics lessons in the summer of 1973 when the Watergate hearings interrupted the cartoon hour. We learned early that one great truth that everyone should always keep in mind when dealing with matters of government and public policy: politicians lie. 

    If it is eventually learned that Brady knew that the balls were being deflated and said nothing, will the Millenials — who are now between the ages of 19 and 30 - take away from this scandal, and other infractions elsewhere such as steriod use in baseball, that even the greatest athletes cheat?

For now, Patriots Owner Robert Kraft — who crawled way out on a limb back in January when he demanded the league apologize to his team and to Brady specifically — has now doubled down and joined Brady’s agent in blasting the report as inconclusive. 

A war is coming. The NFL may well decide to suspend Brady and keep him on the sidelines for next season. With a net worth estimated at more than $120 million, Brady has the resources to hire the best lawyers and public relations spin doctors to make sure that doesn’t happen. 

The next matchup: Brady vs the NFL, or as it will no doubt become known among sports writers: Goliath vs Goliath. 

Meanwhile, if Brady is guilty of knowing more than he let on, then at least we know this much: When it comes to the big con, this guy's a rookie. Looks like Brady needs to enroll in Bill Clinton’s course on "How to Make Up Stories and Lie to People Effectively." The cost for the hourlong seminar is a little steep: $500,000. But hey, a guy’s gotta pay his bills.  

Ruben Navarrette is a columnist for the Daily Beast. He also writes a nationally syndicated column for the Washington Post Writers Group. He is author of "A Darker Shade of Crimson: Odyssey of a Harvard Chicano" (Bantam 1994).