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‘Four Games in Fall’ review: How the NFL framed Tom Brady & the Patriots

Did the NFL set Brady up?

Four Games in Fall shows how much the newscycle has changed in five short years. In January 2015, the country was shocked with the news of what would become known as Deflategate. After Tom Brady and the New England Patriots routed the Indianapolis Colts en route to another Super Bowl, word leaked the team had used deflated footballs. In other words, they had cheated.

The documentary looks at the allegations made against the team and, specifically, Brady. Unlike other sports documentaries, Four Games in Fall looks at the science behind the incident. It also examines how well tested methods of manipulation and “science for hire” was used to possibly create a scandal and why it may have been done.

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It is important to note that Four Games in Fall is not an objective look at Deflategate. The documentary explicitly sets out to prove why the whole incident was essentially a PR move by the NFL. Anyone who wants an unbiased overview of what happened will not get that here. This is not to say the film is bad, but it definitely has an agenda.

Those who are willing to watch the documentary knowing this is in for a mixed bag. The entire film is told through talking heads. This includes scientists, attorneys, and journalists. Make not mistake about it, Four Games in Fall is filled with interesting information. The section on “science for hire” is especially interesting.

That being said, things do become repetitive. Since Four Games in Fall is only taking on one side, much of the information is being repeated. Surprisingly, things never get tedious. The facts may be the same, but they are laid out in different ways. A scientist and lawyer may be getting to the same point, but will have drastically different ways of explaining it, for example.

'Four Games in Fall' review: How the NFL framed Tom Brady & the Patriots

One of the most interesting parts of the documentary is how the NFL and the NFLPA (the union for NFL players) are portrayed. Casting the NFL as the villain is not so strange; actually, it is par for the course. What is surprising is to see how much they worked with the NFLPA. The two are often portrayed as being at odds, but Four Games in Fall shows how they almost worked in tandem – even if it was unintentional on the union’s part.

It is during this section of the film that audiences will feel for Brady. It is not so much about the NFL covering up how poorly they dealt with concussions or domestic abuse. It is more about how his own union failed him. They simply did not have the means to compete with the NFL. This is made more obvious by an interview with an NFLPA spokesperson. He almost comes off as apologetic when referring to Deflategate.

Four Games in Fall is not out to tell the full story of Deflategate. The documentary is all about how the NFL used the media, science, and manipulation to make Tom Brady and the New England Patriots scapegoats. It is up to the individual to decide how much credence they want to give, but there is no doubting it is a riveting story.

Victim or culprit?

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