Deflategate has taken its well-deserved place in the annals of all-time sports infamy. The recent allegations against Tom Brady have not only polarized NFL fans and players alike, but have given legal professionals reason for pause as to the manner in which the investigation was conducted and the burden of proof that was applied. The mantra repeatedly used in the report filed by league investigator Ted Wells was “more probable than not.” This burden of proof standard is akin to “by a preponderance of the evidence,” the burden of proof used in civil trials where a plaintiff only needs to convince a jury that his legal argument is more plausible than the defendant’s version, even if the percentage in his favor is only 51%. Conversely, in criminal trials, the burden of proof that is applied is much more onerous given the higher stakes involved. A prosecutor is required to prove his case “beyond a reasonable doubt” to merit conviction of the alleged offender. One could reasonably argue that Ted Wells should’ve applied a raised burden of proof, equivalent to “beyond a reasonable doubt,” to implicate Tom Brady in this scandal, given the severity of the allegations and the erosive impact on the Rushmoreian legacy of arguably the greatest quarterback of his generation, if not in the history of the NFL.
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