Chris Simms was a coaching assistant for the New England Patriots in 2012. He knows Tom Brady. He loves Tom Brady. He even has a Brady-autographed helmet and called him “one of my favorites of all time.”
But Simms is also realistic. And objective. And the Wells Report, well, that’s damning. A lot of NFL quarterbacks like their footballs a certain way, but Brady is different.
“I’ll say this right off the bat,” Simms said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “He’s the only one I know that goes below the legal limit. I will say that. That’s for sure.”
But how does Simms know that?
“Let me just go here first of all,” Simms said. “The one thing I’ll say: I played in the NFL eight years, my dad 15. Never have I ever heard the conversation of let’s go below 12.5. Every game I ever was on a sideline for – whether it be Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady – the opposing team’s ball boys are always over there. I always would ask, Let me feel their footballs. I want to see how does Peyton like his footballs broken in? Never at one point did I say, ‘Hmm, that’s questionable air.’ So to me, do people probably take it to the minimum? Sure. But I have never heard it going below.”
But even though the Wells Report implicates the Patriots, do we have proof that Brady was the mastermind behind Deflategate? Or that he even knew it was going on?
“(As far as) being able to pin that to Tom . . . well, you and I both know, equipment guys, they wouldn’t do anything without getting the green flag from the quarterback or the head coach,” Simms said. “This is an area where I don’t think the head coach ever gets involved. This is a Brady and a ball boy situation. We don’t have anything definitive right now, but to me, all signs point toward guilty.”
Simms simply can’t rationalize as mere coincidence the fact that all of the footballs were under-inflated.
“At some point, something was said as far as, ‘Hey, let’s push the limit of going below 12.5,’” Simms said. “Now, we’re never going to get that definitive answer because Tom didn’t cooperate with the investigation fully. He didn’t turn over his cell phone. But I’ll say this, too: He’s got to get suspended – first of all for not even cooperating with the investigation.”
And what about Bill Belichick?
“I don’t think Belichick knew,” Simms said. “I think they win the AFC Championship by 30 points if they played with a bowling ball. They win the majority of these games this year. Where does it come into play? I think it comes into play maybe that December game against the Jets here in the Meadowlands. It’s a close game. (The Patriots) won by one point. Maybe Brady made a throw there in the fourth quarter because the ball has a little less air in it and he can manipulate it with his hand just a title bit more and he gets a completion and that’s why they got in field-goal position to win that one game.
“I don’t see how you don’t suspend him,” Simms continued. “This is the face of the NFL. This is one of the all-time great quarterbacks. He tried to get a tactical advantage. It is against the rules. There’s no denying that. And yeah, I think he’s in big trouble. I think he’s going to lose a number of games this year.”
Both Simms and Brandon Tierney believe that Deflategate forever changes the Brady narrative.
“It’s going to be there forever,” Simms said. “It’s just going to be one of those things. I think there’s going to be a semi-asterisk next to Tom Brady’s name forever now. I do think he cares (about that) because he wouldn’t have taken the air out of the balls if he didn’t care. I think he takes the air out of the balls because for whatever reason, he has a little insecurity about his throwing. He wants to win that fourth Super Bowl so bad. Yes, I do think he cares how he’s viewed in that limelight. Is it going to ruin his life? No, it’s not going to ruin his life. He’s got a great family and a great wife and a ton of money.
“(Roger Goodell) is in a very tough situation,” Simms continued. “And I think the league, the players, they’re all going to kind of (want) the Patriots and Tom Brady’s head on a pedestal for something like this.”
Simms believes Brady will receive a six-game suspension, appeal it and likely get it reduced to four.
“I think I would do that, and I think the NFL is going to be in that range as well,” Simms said. “You’re dancing a very fine line here by setting the precedent to other NFL players that, ‘Hey if you’re Tom Brady and you’ve won a few Super Bowls, you don’t really have to follow the rules. It doesn’t matter.’ I think (Goodell has) got to make a stance here.”