Dunlap: Cheating in Football and Baseball - Same Thing, Different Story 

Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks on from the sideline
Photo credit Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

I don’t know where Tom Brady’s quarterbacking career will take him. 

We just know he’ll be leaving Boston. 

Could it now be Tampa? Maybe.  

Will he charge up a Chargers’ fanbase still looking to gain some traction in Los Angeles where teams have to fight so hard to be the town’s team? Maybe. 

Is Carolina on his mind? Maybe. 

But all this Tom Brady talk has forced me to really think about something. Since earlier today when Brady made it official an exodus from New England was eminent, he has been revered. How many times have you heard and seen him called GOAT? I stopped counting at at least 50. 

Everyone is lauding and applauding Brady and all he’s done. What a leader, what a competitor, what a winner. 

Yep --- the guy has won a ton of games. 

Yep --- the guy got those rings. 

I will forever wrestle with how much was done legitimately as he was the main cog on a team that was proven to partake in systemic cheating. 

Like I always say, when people ask where to put Brady on a list of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, I never know. Because I just don’t know how much he accomplished through illegality, illegitimacy and dishonesty. We do know, however, it was at least some. 

I mean, the NFL proved as much --- those fines and forfeited draft picks were very much real. 

Anyhow, it gets me to a weird way we look at Brady in relation to something else … 

Before Spring Training was shut down, the biggest story to emanate from the Grapefruit League was the way opposing teams were handling proven cheaters on the Houston Astros. 

There is no hyperbole here: Players like Jose Altuve (tattoo or not) had to worry about his safety because it wasn’t a matter of if in a game he was going to be plunked by a pitch, it was a matter of when. We had already seen it surfacing in the Spring Training games and there was much talk about how it would carry over into the regular season. 

Opposing players were speaking out and making proclamations about Altuve and his teammates and boldly stating that no one around the league felt bad for them. Yep, that’s right, that proven cheaters were about to get their comeuppance and that is just what comes with the territory when you bend the rules to advance and swindle unknowing opponents. Especially when you do so en route to a championship. 

This isn’t a place for me to say the opponents of the Astros are wrong in what they said. Not at all. 

This is, however, a place for me to scratch my head at the differences in baseball and football. 

In one sport (baseball) we have people seething and ready to do bodily harm with a high hard one to the cheaters. We have guys who want their damn pound of flesh and, man alive, they were going to get it. 

In another sport (football) we have guys falling all over themselves to swap jerseys with Brady after games. We have guys who keep sending social media posts out about the GOAT changing teams and congratulating him on a great run in Boston. 

It’s all so weird. It will forever be weird. All of this. 

I’m so confused at the differences with which baseball looks at cheaters and football looks at cheaters and even more confused at how Tom Brady continues to be some societal Golden Boy yet the Astros will probably need to wear Kevlar when baseball gets around to playing games again.