HOUSTON, May 13, 2015 — By now the entire football world knows that Tom Brady is appealing his four-game suspension for his role in the Deflategate scandal. The New England Patriots quarterback has been uncooperative from the beginning of the NFL investigation into tampered footballs.
There is even speculation that Brady could have his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame delayed a year or worse. As unthinkable as it may sound, what if Brady is permanently banned from the Hall of Fame?
Brady’s statistics absolutely justify making him a unanimous first ball Hall of Famer. Nevertheless, gridiron greats from coach Bill Parcells to former wide receiver Michael Irvin had their inductions delayed by members of the media. Irvin was suspended for five games due to drug use. Parcells kept retiring and unretiring. The refusal to stay retired could hurt Brett Favre as well.
Parcells was irascible, but he broke no NFL rules or societal laws. Favre impeded an investigation into whether he sexted a picture of his appendage to more than one NFL employee. Irvin’s drug use violated league rules and codified laws.
However, none of these men cheated the game of football itself.
Tom Brady’s getting banned from the Hall of Fame for life sounds farfetched, sure, but more than one NFL player has been unofficially blackballed. Tom Brady, meet Lyle Alzado.
On the surface, it seems absurd to compare Brady to Alzado. Brady tries to throw a football without getting hit. Alzado was paid to take quarterbacks and knock the daylights out of them. Brady represents the glamorous aspect of the NFL. Alzado represented the brutal violence of football. Brady played on the Patriots, a team that wraps itself in the American flag. Alzado played for the Evil Empire of Football. The Los Angeles Raiders were represented by a pirate’s flag.
Brady is a golden boy with a calm demeanor who once made the list of People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People. Alzado was known as “Darth Raider” and “Three Mile Lyle” after the volcano Three Mile Island. Alzado’s temper once led him to take his helmet off and try to beat an opposing player to death with it. The Alzado Rule now states that no player may use his helmet as a weapon against another player.
Once one moves beyond the aesthetics, an eerie similarity stands out.
Alzado is considered a pariah for his admitted use of steroids throughout his entire playing career. How is that any worse than what Brady did? Brady doctored the footballs. Alzado doctored his body. In both cases, the goal was to gain a competitive advantage. In both cases, many other players in the league were doing what they did. Brady and Alzado were the ones who got caught. Technically, Alzado was never actually caught. He denied the charges and then admitted that he lied only after his playing career was over.
One distinction must be made. The NFL did not test for steroids until 1987, two years after Alzado retired. The dangerous side effects of steroids were not fully known during most of Alzado’s career. He chose to come forward as a warning to others. Brady is still in the denial phase despite significant evidence of his guilt.
Lyle Alzado was a phenomenal football player who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. He went all out, all the time without ever cheating the game of football.
Tom Brady cannot make this claim with any credibility.
If Alzado is unofficially banned from the Hall of Fame, then those who commit worse acts against the sport of football must also have their entry into Canton, Ohio, delayed indefinitely.
Tom Brady cheated. The Hall of Fame deserves better.