New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady is out to wreak "vengeance" on the NFL for the disrespectful treatment he received during the seven months of the so-called "Deflategate" affair, in which not only the National Football League itself, but numerous current and former players publicly called Brady a cheater.
That assessment comes from a former Patriots teammate of Brady who played on the three Super Bowl teams led by the future Hall of Fame signal-caller. Former New England cornerback Rodney Harrison, who won Super Bowl rings in 2003 and 2004 with the team, and also played on the 2007 team that lost the Super Bowl after compiling an unprecedented 16-0 regular season, commented on his fellow player's comeback.
"I always said when you attain a level of success that Tom Brady has attained, you need something to push you," Harrison told Boston radio station WEEI on Tuesday. "I think this [i.e. Deflategate] was a mistake by the entire league. I think he's out for vengeance."
An article in the Washington Post on Saturday, following the Patriots' decisive 40-32 victory over the Buffalo Bills — a victory that was not nearly as close as the final score seemed to indicate — made a similar case.
"No one likes being called a cheater. There's plenty of motivation from it," former Patriots running back Heath Evans — who also played on the same three Super Bowl teams as Harrison — told the Post. "When it's all said and done, there's not going to be any question who's the greatest ever to strap it on."
Evans added that the "vengeance" factor is "never talked about" in the Patriots locker room. He acknowledged that during the "Spygate" year of 2007 when the Patriots were accused of cheating by illegally videotaping opponents' hand signals, New England players deliberately ran up the score on opposing teams, though he claimed that Spygate was not a motivating factor.
The Patriots were widely criticized that season for continuing to score points, or attempt to score points, in games when they had seemingly insurmountable leads.
The criticism came in two games, in particular. On October 28 of 2007, they defeated the Washington Redskins by a score of 52-7, and on November 18, they smashed the Bills, 56-10.
In the Buffalo game, the Patriots tried for first downs on fourth-down short-yardage situations inside the 10 yard line with leads of 28 points and 32 points. They were blasted in the press as "unsportsmanlike" and having broken "an unwritten rule" costing the team "the moral high ground."
Will the New England Patriots humiliate opponents in similar fashion this season? Sunday's game against what appears to be an overmatched Jacksonville Jaguars team may be the first indication of their intentions.
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