Deflategate & 3 Other Times Athletes Saw Scandals Hurt Their Professional Reputations
An investigation into whether the New England Patriots used under-inflated footballs during the AFC Championship game in January has found that it's likely the team's staff deliberately deflated the balls, and the report, by attorney Ted Wells, adds that quarterback Tom Brady was probably aware, if not directly involved. Under-inflated footballs would have been easier to grip and throw, and Brady, though not conclusively implicated, has said in the past he prefers balls "on the lower end of the scale" the NFL uses. The league requires footballs used in games to be inflated between 12.5 and 13.5 psi. In January, Brady denied knowledge of any wrongdoing, though he has not yet responded to the report. Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he still believes the team did not do anything inappropriate.
Whether or not the Patriots cheated, we may never know, and it's important to stress that the report doesn't provide definitive proof, but rather states that Brady was more likely than not "generally aware" of any inappropriate actions. But if the team is sanctioned by the league (a decision on punishment is expected in the coming weeks), it would not be the first time alleged unsportsmanlike behavior or cheating has caused a scandal in pro sports. And it's not even the first time the Patriots have been scrutinized for some questionable actions: Back in 2007, the Patriots were caught videotaping an opponent's signals during a game, ESPN reported, a scandal that came to be known as Spygate (and I, for one, will be really pleased when we can stop adding the suffix -gate to the end of every possible scandalous situation).
The Patriots are not alone, and in fact, are not even the worst offenders when it comes to alleged bad behavior in sports. Here are some other times when athletes bent the rules.
Lance Armstrong Doping Scandal
Seven-time Tour de France winner and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong had been dogged by doping allegations for years, but the charges from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency had never stuck, until 2012. Armstrong admitted he used performance-enhancing drugs in a 2013 interview with Oprah Winfrey, according to CNN, and he was stripped of his Tour titles and asked to return the bronze medal he won in the 2000 Olympics.
Rosie Ruiz "Wins" The Boston Marathon
In 1980, Rosie Ruiz was the first woman at the Boston Marathon to cross the finish line, but her lack of sweat was a signal that perhaps her story was too good to be true, according to Time magazine. It was not long before reports from spectators of the race surfaced, both from people who did not remember seeing Ruiz along the marathon checkpoints, and others who saw her near a subway station. It was later discovered that Ruiz had left the race, taken a subway to a stop nearer the finish line, and then reentered the race. Ruiz, who still maintains she ran the entire 1980 Boston Marathon, was stripped of her crown and it was awarded to second-place women's finisher Jacqueline Gareau.
Pete Rose Bets On Baseball Games
Pete Rose was a star player for the Cincinnati Reds and was later the team's manager, but was banned for life from baseball when it was discovered he had placed bets on baseball games, including on his own team. The ban went into effect in 1989, but Rose denied the charges for years, before finally admitting in 2007 he had bet on the Reds "every night" while he was manager, according to ESPN.
For now, Tom Brady and the Patriots await the outcome of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's decision on possible punishment for their alleged actions. It remains to be seen what, if any action the team might face.
Images: Getty Images (2)