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Jerome Bettis, fellow former NFL veterans critical of Tom Brady

Now an ESPN analyist, Jerome Bettis shared his true feelings when assessing Tom Brady and the mess ensuing in New England.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Jerome Bettis broadcasts the same way he ran over defenders as a running back.

Straight up, direct, and with conviction.

When asked his thoughts upon watching Tom Brady's press coference adressing the Patriots using under-inflated footballs this past Sunday, Bettis said exactly what he felt in regards to Brady saying he had no prior knowledge of the balls being mishandled.

"I can't believe...I needed to take a sip of water," Bettis said while speaking as a football analyist on ESPN. "I could not believe what I had heard. I'm so disappointed. I thought this was the perfect opportunity for Tom Brady to go and say, 'You know what? I made a mistake. I blew it. It's on me. I'll take the blame here and this will go away. He didn't do that.

"Every player that's in the NFL, you know what your equiptment manager does for you. For instance, if I like my cleats, you know, an inch lower than normal, then every game I go out there my cleats will be an inch lower because that's how I like it. Tom Brady said they know how he likes it. Well, let's think about that. He said his equiptment manager brings his balls just how he likes them. Well, when the coach played him the previous game it was just how he liked them, and again, it was too low. So, it's clear that the equiptment managers are doing what you want them to do. You want it low. They have it low for you. This was a perfect opportunity for you to call it like you saw it. You did not do that. I'm disappointed in you, Tom Brady."

Fellow former NFL veterns turned ESPN analyist Mark Brunell and Brian Dawkins echoed similar feelings about Brady Thursday.

A former NFL Pro Bowl quarterback and Drew Brees' backup on the Saints Super Bowl XLIV team, Brunell is as qulified as anyone to speak on the matter in regards to professional quarterbacks and their control on the state of the game balls.

"I do not believe what Tom had to say," Brunell said. "Those balls were deflated. Somebody had to do it and I don't believe there's an equiptment manager in the NFL that would-on his own initiative-deflate a ball without the starting quarterback's approval.

"I just didn't believe what Tom Brady had to say."

A former Pro Bowl defenive back for the Eagle, Dawkins had the most candid words directed at Brady and the Patriots' situation.

"It's unbelievable for you not to know what you touch every day. If you're so specific about how you like your football, how on earth could you not notice when it was inflated to a level significantly below the legal amount?"

It was a little ironic to see Bettis and Dawkins sit beside each other on ESPN. Bettis' Steelers and Dawkins' Eagles lost to Brady's Patriots in the AFC Championship and Super Bowl collectively during New England's last Super Bowl champioship run. A decade later, the Patriots have endured Spygate, two lost Super Bowls and now the controversey following Sunday's win over the Colts. You wonder for a second if Bettis and Dawkins were speaking with bitter tounges given that Brady and the Patriots had given their teams a great deal of grief during their playing days. But that wasn't the case. Bettis, Dawkins, and Brunell were speaking as disappointed NFL alumni who expected more from today's standard bearers.