It's image, not career, that suffers most for uncooperative Brady

Tom Brady should've known better. He failed to cooperate with NFL investigators with the Wells Report, and now he's been suspended four games. That's a blow to New England, but trust us: It's not a blow to Brady's Hall-of-Fame career. But it is ... and will be ... to Brady's one unassailable reputation, now and for the rest of his life.

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(Photo courtesy of the New England Patriots)

By Clark Judge

Talk of Fame Network

Tom should’ve listened to Mom.

Presumably, Mrs. Brady once told her son to tell the truth … to always, always tell the truth … and he’d be OK. But his failure to cooperate with the NFL in the Wells investigation is proof of what can happen when you don’t.

Tom Brady was suspended the first four games of 2015, and the NFL’s decision – which was handed down Monday afternoon – makes it clear that Brady’s failure to cooperate with authorities played a significant role in a penalty more damaging to his reputation than his career.

“Your actions set forth in the report,” NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent wrote in a letter to Brady notifying him of the suspensions, “clearly constitutes conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the game of professional football.”

Furthermore, Vincent indicated he didn’t believe Brady told the truth when he spoke with investigators, saying that he provided testimony that the Wells report concluded “was not plausible and contradicted by other evidence.”

Bottom line: He should’ve played ball.

Look, I don’t care what you think of what Brady allegedly did or what his role in this was. To me, it’s tantamount to a pitcher scuffing up a baseball or throwing a spitter. You’re not supposed to do it, but some guys try. And if they’re caught, they’re penalized.

OK, I understand that. He broke a rule, and he should suffer the consequences.

But he could’ve helped himself, if nothing more than in the court of public opinion, by telling us what he knew, what he did and why he did it. People are forgiving, and, guaranteed, if Tom Brady had said something like, “I didn’t know this was such a big deal but I do now, and I won’t do it again” … or “I was just trying to protect my teammates by saying nothing” … or “this isn’t who I am, and I foolishly did something I regret”... fans would have been more forgiving.

Maybe the NFL wouldn’t. But fans would.

But by saying nothing … worse, by laughing off the subject on national TV… he practically dared the league to drop the hammer. So it did. And now Tom doesn’t look so Terrific.

Bad enough to be considered a cheater. Now he looks like a liar, too, with a line on his resume nobody wants: Suspended four games for violating league rules.

That’s not how you want to be remembered, and it won’t be how Tom Brady is remembered. The guy won four Super Bowls, for crying out loud, was a three-time Super Bowl MVP and is a Hall-of-Fame cinch. But, guaranteed, somewhere in his obituary the word “Deflategate” will appear. It may not be until the middle or the end of the story, but it will be there – a blemish on the All-American boy.

“The key consideration in any case like this,” Vincent wrote to the Patriots, “is that the playing rules exist for a reason, and all clubs are entitled to expect that the playing rules will be followed by participating teams. Violations that diminish the league’s reputation for integrity and fair play cannot be excused.”

As I said, I don’t care what you think of what Brady did or might have done. The biggest complaint I have is that he didn’t comply with repeated requests – no demands -- from his employer. The NFL asked for his cooperation, and he failed to give it.

That’s a no can-do.

When Tom Brady had a chance to clear his name … when he had a chance to tell us exactly what happened … he didn’t, and don’t ask me why. But when someone doesn’t respond to inquiries, the presumption is that he’s hiding something.

Until or unless he demonstrates that he's not.

Tom Brady made a big mistake here. He shouldn’t have listened to legal counsel, team representatives or close friends. He should’ve listened to his conscience and done what he was told to do so many years ago, which is to do what’s right. Now he’s suffering the consequences, and I’m not talking just about four games.

I’m talking about his reputation.

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