Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Brady and Hillary Share Deleted E-Message Legacies

Tom Brady is the Hillary Clinton of the National Football League. Hillary Clinton is the Tom Brady of politics.

Regardless of what you think about them, both have stellar resumes. Millions adore them. Yet both have sizable portions of the population that abhor and despise them. Their detractors won’t believe a word they say. And they now share legacies of deep-sixing sought-after electronic messages that could implicate them, or vindicate them, in scandal. 

Politics in the United States has been steeped in conspiracy theories, probably going back at least to Aaron Burr and the unsuccessful attempt to convict the former vice president of the United States of treason in the early 1800s. There indeed was a conspiracy, a partially successful conspiracy, to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln and members of his cabinet. Never proven were innuendos that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt knew in advance about Japan’s plans to attack Pearl Harbor but let it proceed as a pretext to enter World War II against Japan and Germany. Nor were conspiracy theories proven for the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. 

Richard Nixon’s Watergate conspiracy engendered numerous other “-gate” investigations, two of which involved two more Republican presidents—Ronald Reagan’s Iran-Contra affair and George W. Bush’s weapons of mass destruction in Iraq hoax. Lots of investigations into Bill Clinton’s presidency produced no tangible conspiracy. Hillary’s actions before, during and after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi remain an open festering wound Republicans continue to investigate as a means to derail her presidential bid.

So what do I think about Hillary and Brady? Nothing so far has swayed my belief she is the best announced Democratic candidate. Yes, she showed hasty judgment in deleting all of her emails. But aside from fostering more conspiracy theories, many of which have been dispelled by Republican-led Congressional inquiries, Hillary’s main challenge is weathering the years-long assault on her character the GOP has waged. Such is the life of a frontrunner.  

With four Super Bowl rings, Brady, as well, is a leader. His image is now tarnished. But I will say that tinkering with equipment, as Brady is alleged to have done in Deflategate, is not unusual in almost all sports. Jerry Rice, considered the best receiver in football history, admitted to putting stickum on his gloves to aid in catching passes. Hockey goalies have been known to dress in leg pads wider than permitted, while their teammates try to bend the rules by curving their stick blades beyond the legal limit. Returning to football, linemen swab their uniforms with Vaseline so their opponents can’t grab them easily. Vaseline also was a favored tool of baseball pitchers hoping to influence the flight of a ball, while batters corked their bats to hit it further. 

Did Brady have his minions on the New England Patriots take the air out of balls used in the team’s 45-7 victory in the AFC Championship game? Who knows? What we do know is that in the second half, in driving rain, after the referees inserted properly inflated balls, Brady scorched the Indianapolis Colts with 28 points compared to scoring 17 points in the first half using under-inflated balls. 

Perhaps a better question to ask is why Brady would think he needed the supposed advantage of under-inflated balls. Probably for the same reason Nixon had the Democratic Party offices bugged in the Watergate Apartments. Because they could and they thought they could get away with it. And no matter how sure you think victory is, they think it’s never wrong to take steps to make sure of that victory. Until, that is, you’re caught. When that happens, it’s wise to remember, it’s not the crime but the coverup that trips you up. 

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