Tom Brady and the New England Patriots’ role in DeflateGate has caused some to question the validity of their Super Bowl season.
According to A.J. Feeley, though, Brady & Co. were circumventing the rules a full decade before they were implicated in the Wells Report.
The retired quarterback, who spent two seasons on the Miami Dolphins from 2004 to 2005, joined Philadelphia’s 97.5 The Fanatic for a radio interview and told an interesting story about a 2004 game between the two AFC East rivals.
“Prior to Tommy and Peyton Manning going to the league and saying, ‘Let us doctor our balls,’ we used to all play with the same balls,” Feeley told the show. “Somehow this beat-up ball from the ball boy was getting thrown in on offense for New England, yet when we were on offense this orange brand new ball was getting thrown in.”
Feeley was referring to a rule change the NFL implemented in 2006 — after urging from quarterbacks like Brady and Manning — that allowed teams to use their own footballs in games.
Feeley said the ball boy “just smirked” when confronted about the different football, causing the backup quarterback to take offense with the Patriots’ apparent advantage.
“(Brady’s) getting his own balls thrown in on offense,” Feeley said. “That was an issue to me at the time … We saw it then.”
According to The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin, the Patriots received a letter from the NFL after that game — a 24-10 Patriots win in Foxboro — warning that they could be disciplined if they committed a similar transgression in the future.
Apparently that warning finally has come full circle, as Brady now faces a four-game suspension for “at least being generally aware” of his team using under-inflated footballs in last year’s AFC Championship Game.
Thumbnail photo via Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports Images