"Well-known facts" are often just speculations that enough people believe. And we believe them because we were told by people we assume know better than we do.
That's understandable. We're busy. We don't have time to learn much about most things.
But that's also why why "everyone knows" Iran is on the verge of getting nuclear weapons. We're told that by politicians and the news media, even though every intelligence agency in the United States and Israel has disagreed for years.
And that's also why it's quickly become a "well-known fact" that Tom Brady cheated in the AFC Championship game by arranging for footballs to be tampered with to his liking.
And also why we "know" he lied or dodged media questions about it, and tried to cover up "DeflateGate" by refusing to have NFL investigators inspect his cell phone.
That's why he deserves to be suspended. If not the four games he received, then at least one or two. And if not for the violation, then for the cover-up.
But here's a problem with what "everyone knows."
It doesn't appear to me that any of it is true.
Now, I haven't read the Wells Report, which is the basis of the NFL's punishment of Brady and the Patriots franchise.
But the evidence that there was deliberate tampering of footballs isn't convincing.
Here are just some issues:
- Pregame PSI's weren't recorded.
- The gauge the Wells report claims was used at halftime isnot the gauge the referee recalls using. There was considerable variance between the two, and the one the referee recalls using would have cleared the Patriots.
The investigation should have ended there. No evidence.
The controversy, then, probably confused and annoyed Brady, who wanted it to blow over before Super Bowl week. And after that, he was confident no violation occurred, at least nothing he was a part of. Also, that the infraction, as it was, was minor.
Not to mention that there's no evidence Brady wanted footballs lower than 13.0 PSI, over the 12.5 minimum
That's all probably why Brady didn't want to hand over his cell phone.
A lot of your life is in one's phone. Brady might have had "nothing to hide" regarding deflated footballs, but he did have a lot in there that was nobody else's business.
It appears to me that Brady was both innocent of deflating footballs andalso innocent of covering anything up. To the extent he didn't satisfactorily cooperate, it's likely he thought the demands were unreasonable.
That was, evidently, his biggest mistake.
As appeals of his suspension go forward, I hope we will get a better understanding of his side of the story.
And perhaps we will all come to realize that we probably know less than we thought.
I do believe it's possible that Brady did in fact cheat. And I understand that private organizations do not require the same standards of proof that the criminal justice requires in dispensing penalties.
But penalties should be based on actual facts, and not on opinions masquerading as facts.
That's unfair to everyone, even Tom Brady.