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Former Quarterbacks Respond To Brady's Suspension, Deflategate

BOSTON (CBS) -- It seems as though everyone has an opinion about the Deflategate controversy and the punishment of Tom Brady that followed the release of the Wells Report last week.

Either Brady is a cheater and he and the Patriots got what they deserved (a four-game suspension for Brady and a $1 million fine and loss of draft picks for New England), or Brady and the Patriots are being targeted by a power-hungry Roger Goodell, out to improve his image following a season of PR disasters in 2014.

There seems to be very little middle ground in this story, and things should get even more interesting when Brady appeals the league's punishment in the near future. He's lawyered up, and he's ready for a fight.

But how do Brady's fellow quarterbacks, who have remained relatively quiet during the whole ordeal, feel about the situation? Peyton Manning called Brady a friend, but didn't say much else. Eli Manning said he hates to see Brady miss games, but understands that anyone caught cheating should be punished. So far, Colin Kaepernick is the only active tosser of pigskins to come to Brady's defense, sending out a "Leave Tom Alone!" tweet last week prior to the QB's punishment.

But former quarterbacks -- some of Hall of Fame stature, some not so much -- have started to voice their opinion of the matter, and like fans and the media, seem pretty split.

Brett Favre

Brett Favre. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)

Favre said this is the first he's heard of deflating footballs, and found the subject laughable when it first game up back in January.

"I don't think by any stretch, in my opinion, that Tom was cheating," Favre recently told Fox News. "It sounds crazy, but historically, there's been stealing of signs — and that goes to baseball and football. Just whatever advantage you could get; Lester Hayes putting Stickum on his arms with the Raiders. Pine tar. It's just endless, the advantages that players would try to get.

"I don't know if Tom could honestly say he has completed more passes because of it," added Favre. "I think more than anything, it helped with the grip based on conditions. Would other players do it? Sure, I have no reason to think otherwise."


Joe Namath

Joe Namath
(Photo by Jarrett Baker/Getty Images)

Broadway Joe wouldn't say much about the punishment or Brady's legacy, but he was pretty clear that the NFL has bigger issues to worry about than the air in footballs.

"There are other sports where rules have been breached," Namath told the New York Daily News' Seth Walder. "Performance-enhancing drugs, to me, is a far worse issue, than what we're talking about with the ball being deflated a little bit. I don't even know that it was, Mother Nature does it on her own, like an automobile tire."

John Elway

John Elway
(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

"The integrity of the game is No. 1 ... I support the commissioner 100 percent," Elway recently told the Associated Press.

The two-time Super Bowl champ, who now runs the Denver Broncos, had similar comments when recently asked about the deflategate controversy by our CBS affiliate in Denver.

"When it comes down to the integrity of the game, I think the commissioner has done a good job with making sure that is the No. 1 goal of the office. With what's going on with New England, he's done that," said Elway.

He doesn't think this will hurt Brady's legacy though.

"I know what I think of Tom Brady as a football player and what he's done for this league. In my mind, I don't think it will taint his legacy," said Elway.

Jeff Blake

Jeff Blake
(Photo by: Ronald Martinez/Allsport)

The former Saints and Jets quarterback says deflating footballs is nothing new in the NFL.

"I'm just going to let the cat of the bag, every team does it, every game, it has been since I played," Blake said in a radio interview in Nashville, Tennessee. "Cause when you take the balls out of the bag, they are rock hard. And you can't feel the ball as well. It's too hard.

"Everybody puts the pin in and takes just enough air out of the ball that you can feel it a little better. But it's not the point to where it's flat. So I don't know what the big deal is. It's not something that's not been done for 20 years.

"I guess it wasn't a big deal back then, but it is now," he said.

Boomer Esiason

(Photo by: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Boomer has his own talk show in New York, and has spent as much time as anyone on the topic. A former quarterback himself, Esiason told WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Adam Kaufman that in this case, Tom Brady is a cheater.

"In this case he is," said Esiason. "I think he was part and parcel to this, because the balls weren't going to be made a certain way without his knowledge, especially someone who is as diligent and detailed as Brady, Manning, Brees and Rodgers. All these guys know exactly what they want and how they want it.

"This is a black eye for [Brady], but I don't think in any way, shape or form taints his overall legacy," added Esiason.

Esiason said it's very clear that something went on ahead of the AFC Championship Game in January.

"We still have to remember that something went on here, and we all know what it is. Those balls were cleared by the officials and then disappeared, which is outside the game day protocol," said Esiason. "[Jim] McNally took them into the bathroom with him and they showed up under-inflated. That's something that is pre-meditated, and it's just inherently wrong.

"I don't care who the quarterback is – Peyton Manning, Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers – I would be an advocate for their suspension as well because they're doing something nefarious. Everybody has to look at that aspect and say, 'Something wasn't right here,' and it had to be dealt with and dealt with severely."

A.J. Feeley

AJ Feeley
(Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images)

Feeley recently said that back in 2004, as a member of the Dolphins, he noticed Brady was using broken-in footballs during a game when the NFL mandated that teams use new footballs provided by the league.

"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 said on a Philadelphia radio station, according to Sports Illustrated. "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.

"He's getting his own balls thrown in on offense," Feeley said. "That was an issue to me at the time."

Chris Simms

Former NFL QB Chris Simms (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

And then there's Chris Simms, who we already know isn't very fond of Tom Brady. He made that clear in November, twice.

He was back out there, making it clear again this week.

"This is cheating, flat out," Simms told WFAN's Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on Tuesday afternoon. "Cheating in the NFL. No quarterbacks take out less air than what is mandated by the NFL. Nobody. I've never heard of anybody (doing) it. Plain and simple, I put it up there with PEDs, corking your bat, any of that."

This whole thing has really, really hurt Simms. Not as a former quarterback, but as a sports fan.

"I don't have a lot of sports memorabilia in my house. I have a Tom Brady autographed helmet. Tom Brady was one of my favorite quarterbacks of all time, but I'm not so sure he is anymore now after all this," said Simms.

Forget feeling bad for Brady. Send your love to Chris Simms; he needs it now more than ever.

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