Dan Mastous on Tom Brady and cheating in sports

I’ve known him for 20 years. Each time he visits, we play tennis at Casino Español. He stands 6-foot-6, lives north of Boston, and is a lifelong sports fanatic.

Dan Mastous emailed me on “DeflateGate.” It’s the biggest “scandal” in America today and it involves a star NFL quarterback, the husband of supermodel Gisele Bundchen. Here’s Dan’s take on the controversy:

“I live about an hour-and-a-half north of Foxboro, MA (home of the New England Patriots). It’s definitively Patriot country.

“Under-inflated balls did not help the Patriots beat the Colts 47-7, and they certainly didn’t help Tom Brady torch one of the NFL’s best secondaries in the Super Bowl.

“The bottom line to me is — and this is the case in most of life in the USA — when someone is successful, as the Patriots have been for 15 years, everyone is looking to knock them off their perch. Everyone is looking to find fault with them.

“First there was the ‘tuck rule’ then Spy-gate, now deflate-gate. It’s all pebbles on a beach. Each charge is small and insignificant. They win because Bill Belichick is a better coach. He rarely has the best players, though they are very good.

“Tom Brady is a big part of that, however, and when he starts to slow down, we’ll see if Belichick can keep it up. My guess is he won’t bother to try. He’ll retire along with Brady. Still I’m a bit disappointed in the Pats.

“It’s the American way… if you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying. The Pats are doing nothing the other teams aren’t doing. They are covering all the bases to win. They do have some standard about the types of players they have. They don’t mind if they have a bad record necessarily. Just as long as they don’t do anything bad while on the Patriots. Aaron Hernandez, now on trial for murder, aside, they have a good record in this.

“As far as what the Pats are accused of, I don’t think it makes a considerable difference in the outcome of a game. The game in question showed that. The Pats were dominant all game. The issue was discovered and corrected during half time. There was no question the balls were properly inflated during the Super Bowl, and Brady demoralized the Seahawks at times during that game.

“I don’t think the inflation of the footballs is as influential on the game as Performance-Enhancing Drugs (PEDs), but I think PEDs are less of an issue than most in this country. The only reason PEDs are frowned upon in pro sports is because of the influence pro athletes have on kids. PEDs are not too damaging to adults (in fact they are frequently prescribed for older people), but they are very damaging to the growth of kids. So they are outlawed.

“There was a moment in last year’s NBA Finals, maybe you saw it. I think it was Game 2. Dwayne Wade had the ball at half court and lost it. He was trying to get control of it and Manu Ginobili brought his hands up near Wade’s face. Not really close, didn’t hit Wade, but Wade turned his head and fell back like he got punched. This resulted in a foul on Ginobili and free throws for Wade. A phantom foul clearly influenced by Wade.

“I think that kind of thing is much worse than what the Pats are accused of, possibly even worse than steroids. What Pete Rose did was much worse that what the Pats are accused of.

“There is cheating and then there is CHEATING. Affecting the outcome of a game, either by what Wade did, or what Rose may have done (as a manager to win his bets), is very bad. Or even in tennis. Calling a shot out that wasn’t out in a friendly match is very bad. Breaking the law (illegal drugs, steroids aren’t completely illegal, murder, theft, that kind of thing) is very bad. It doesn’t have an effect on the game, but it shouldn’t be looked past either.

“What the Pats did was wrong because they broke the rules, but not all that influential on the game, so no I don’t think it was that big of a deal. I think it’s simply that most of the other teams looking for reasons they can’t beat Belichick & Brady.”

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