|Tom Brady (USA) released a statement announcing his retirement from American Football.|
It should be uncontroversial to say that he is the greatest American Football player of all time: he is the most successful ever with 7 NFL Championships, he has broken the most impressive individual records for a quarterback, he triumphed with two different teams, and subjectively he is probably the best to have ever played the game.
Of course, the controversy that tarnishes his legacy is the ‘deflategate‘ from 2015, where Brady allegedly ordered deflating footballs in the 2014 AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Brady was suspended for four games and although he appealed the punishment, he eventually accepted it, although not admitting he broke the rules.
Regardless of his role, even if we were to assume he was responsible, Brady deserves an ovation for his career. As a world-class sportsperson, you have a responsibility to find every manner to win -within the rules- and he did that, better than anyone else.
If on top if it, there is at least an instance where one won or acted outside of the rules the person should be punished accordingly. In the worst offenses, full disqualifications are fair. We have seen it with doping cases, for instance.
It is very likely that one can point out at sportspeople that have been the best without ever bending the rules. Props to them for representing the epitome of sportsmanship and it is desirable to have more people like them.
But mistakes or outright faults do not erase the rest of the successes. Michael Schumacher (DEU) made mistakes in his life but he should still be regarded as one of the greatest car racers of all time. Therese Johaug (NOR) was suspended for doping at some point but that should not take away the merits of what she is achieving in Beijing 2022 and the place she will have in cross-country skiing history. Like them, there are dozens of examples.
The greatest get engulfed in being the best. Doing what it takes. People expect you to care and do what it takes. Sometimes the lines are blurred. Sometimes we make mistakes; we are human. The truth eventually comes out and it should be critically analyzed within its nuance.