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'Deflategate' Tarnishes NFL Golden Boy Tom Brady

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America loves a sporting rags-to-riches story - the tale of "Tom Terrific" is among the best.

 

Tom Brady's story is legend in American sport: the unknown college quarterback who transformed into a sporting giant and led the New England Patriots to six Super Bowls.

Now 37, he is a multimillionaire married to supermodel Gisele Bundchen, and regarded by many as one of the greatest ever to play the game.

Which is precisely why "Deflategate" is such a baffling scandal to those who follow the sport.

Brady was named Most Valuable Player in the Super Bowl

The allegation is that Brady was aware of Patriots officials deflating balls to make handling easier for him during a crucial playoff in January.

Victory in that game took the Patriots to another Super Bowl, which they also won - with Brady named Most Valuable Player.

The star quarterback has always denied the allegations, but a damning report from the NFL's investigation this week has raised the prospect of fines and suspensions.

Brady and wife Gisele Bundchen

It has put Brady's reputation and legacy on the line.

In the way that sports fans often resort to tribal defensiveness, Patriots supporters see the investigation and report as part of a vast conspiracy against their Patriots.

"They should be focusing on the important stuff like domestic abuse," one fan told reporters this week.

Brady says the report does nothing to tarnish the Super Bowl victory

"It's just the same old thing," said another. "It's just because it's New England."

Brady's lawyer even suggested the NFL was in league with the Indianapolis Colts, the defeated team in January, in a sting operation.

Plenty have suggested that this sort of thing goes on in all sports all of the time.

But pundits and former players say the verdict against the franchise and its star player merits severe punishment.

Some pundits say the star deserves severe punishment

Bill Rhoden, the respected New York Times columnist, went on a morning show to muse: "A guy who is on top of the world, who seems to have everything, a great family, a legacy, a Super Bowl, still feels so much pressure.

"You don't have to do this. That's what blows people away and it goes to a larger societal problem."

We have been here before: the Patriots were fined in 2007 for filming signals made by opposition coaches during a game.

Spygate did their reputation no favours either.

Brady started out playing football for the University of Michigan

Brady says the damning report into "Deflategate" does nothing to tarnish the Super Bowl victory.

That might rank as the high point of sports star self-delusion.

But if Americans love anything more than sporting triumph, it is a tale of redemption.

One of those is there for the taking for "Tom Terrific" now.

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