Alan Dell

Commentary | Using Richard Nixon strategy to clear his name is destined to fail for Tom Brady

Tom Brady doesn't need a new set of footballs. He needs a new publicist.

The New England Patriots quarterback is looking more like Tom Foolery these days.

Brady's insistence that he had nothing to do with doctoring footballs in the Patriots' conference-clinching victory last week reminds us of Richard Nixon's litany of lies.

It sounds like a sequel to the infamous "I am not a crook" speech Nixon gave 41 years ago, when his presidency was under siege for Watergate.

If we translate Brady's words into Nixonian dialogue, here is one interpretation of what he meant in arguing he knew nothing of deflating footballs in violation of NFL rules.

"I am not a cheat. I earned everything I've got, those three Super Bowls. I would never obstruct NFL justice. People have got to know whether or not their quarterback is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook.

"I played with Aaron Hernandez before he went to prison. Think that was easy? I threw passes to little Wes Welker. Think that was easy? They vilified me because of the Tuck Rule. Think that was easy? I play for a coach who never says more than five words at a time and never smiles. Think that's easy?"

In a long diatribe intended to drug listeners to sleep with boredom Nixon, declared in 1973: "I made my mistakes. (But) I have never obstructed justice; people have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook. I've earned everything I've got."

Brady's strategy is flawed.

Nixon had some credible people by his side, namely Henry Kissinger, who came out of Watergate unscathed and eventually won a Nobel Peace Prize.

Brady has Bill Belichick, the NFL's grandmaster of cheating.

A lot of people say the Patriots head coach drew up the plan in Boston's Brinks Robbery and let the air out of the tires of the local police cars in a brilliant getaway.

He wasn't even born yet, but conspiracy theorists claim his birth certificate is doctored.

So these were Brady's actual words last week: "I feel like I have always played within the rules. I would never break the rules. I believe in fair play, and I respect the league."

The irony here is that Nixon didn't need Watergate, and Brady didn't needed deflated footballs to win.

Nixon won by a landslide in 1972 and the Patriots lambasted the Colts 45-7 last week including outscoring them 28-0 in the second half when refs threw out the doctored footballs and used regulation ones.

But once a cheater, always a cheater, my dog tells me when I shortchange him on his food.

Brady works for an organization that has tried to turn cheating into an art form befit with unsavory characters to do the dirty work.

It doesn't help his cause.

In 1982, convicted burglar Mark Henderson, employed via a work-release program for the Patriots, committed an egregious act that will live in NFL infamy.

With the Patriots and Don Shula's Miami Dolphins locked in a scoreless tie in a blinding snowstorm, Henderson drove a snowplow on the field to clear a spot for New England to boot a game-winning field goal in the fourth quarter for a 3-0 victory.

Henderson has become a folk hero in New England, and Shula is still steaming. Belichick was not the Pats' coach at the time, but his name has become attached to the incident.

Now 85, Shula has never forgotten the misdeed. When recently asked about how he feels regarding Belichick, Shula had a short answer for the media: "Belicheat."

We don't know what Brady will say this week, but there is a rumor he bought a dog named Checkers that he will give to his kids as a diversionary move.

It is a tactic Nixon used in the 1950s when he was under attack for taking illegal funds. It proved successful and cleared the way for him to become president decades later.

But as my dog told me, cheaters never change.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter @ADellSports.