Deflategate science fair project comes back to haunt Buccaneers fan

12:38 PM ET

  • Jenna LaineESPN Staff Writer

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    • Covered the Buccaneers since 2009
    • Joined ESPN in 2016

TAMPA, Fla. — Ace Davis was warned by his mother that his fourth-grade science fair project last year would come back to haunt him and his father, Chris.

It has.

The science fair project — one in which Ace raised the question, “Is Tom Brady a Cheater?” based on findings from Deflategate — garnered national attention for the 11-year-old Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan who lives in Lexington, Kentucky.

“I kept telling my son, ‘This is gonna come back to haunt you one day,'” Jennie Davis said with a laugh. “And here ya go. It didn’t take very long. It’s completely karma.”

Ace started the project as a way to get back at his cousins Mason and Maddox, who are devout New England Patriots fans. However, he’s now in a bit of a pickle since Brady signed with the Buccaneers.

So Ace wants to set the record straight on some things.

“I don’t think that Tom Brady was all in it,” Ace said of the Deflategate controversy, which involved the deflation of footballs during the 2014 AFC Championship Game that resulted in Brady being suspended for four games and the Patriots being fined $1 million and forfeiting two draft picks in 2016.

“But Bill Belichick, I think he made up the plan, and then Tom Brady went through with it,” said Ace, who became a Bucs fan because his father grew up in Orlando. “I think it was more on Bill Belichick than Tom Brady. But Tom Brady, he has a bigger name.”

Ace also admitted that some of his disdain for Brady had to do with video games.

“He’s really bad in Madden,” Ace whispered, “and that’s like my No. 1 game.

“I’m used to having a quarterback that throws far, like Jameis [Winston], and Tom Brady, he’s more consistent, but he doesn’t really throw that deep.”

The science project started as a suggestion from Chris. It garnered so much national attention that Ace wound up missing school the entire week of the Super Bowl last year because of media interviews, which also resulted in some online hatred from Patriots fans.

“It was just to make Ace interested in science and to do something he would actually enjoy,” Jennie Davis said. “I think it’s funny. But I do believe both my husband and my son are kind of excited. Now they’re just trying to work on their apology.”

Ace said he’s willing to give Brady a shot. He’s excited to have the six-time Super Bowl champion on his team, and he would even like to meet him.

“I’ll give him a shot all right. And if he starts winning games? Woooooo! I’m gonna be bragggginnnnng,” Ace said. “People at school, they’re all like, ‘Your team sucks’ and all that stuff. Ima come back at ’em, ‘Now what team sucks?’ Well, they don’t really make fun of me. It’s just kind of like a joke.

“But I’m pretty sure my cousins are gonna make fun of me about it.”

Ace’s aunt married into a Patriots family from Boston, and he thinks his cousins are jealous.

“What quarterback do you guys have now?”

They’re already thinking of a family reunion in Foxborough when the Bucs and Patriots play at Gillette Stadium in 2021, just as they did when the Patriots traveled to Tampa in 2017.

“I may or may not have seen him dancing in the hallway when it became official,” Chris Davis said of his son.

“I think he’ll do great,” Ace said of Brady. “The weapons around him are … woooooooo! Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Scotty Miller, O.J. Howard… [Rob] Gronkowski and O.J. Howard — they’re kind of like the same guy. They’re both big, they’re both strong.”

Brady’s signing is bittersweet for Davis, who is a fan of Winston and still has his poster on his bedroom wall. Ace and his family got to meet Winston when the Bucs played the Indianapolis Colts this year on his birthday; Winston even promised him one day that he would win the MVP.

“Wherever [Winston] goes, he is just gonna light it up,” Ace said. “I think that LASIK surgery on his eyes — I think that’s gonna help him a lot. Wherever he goes, he’s just gonna set the place on fire. … He still hasn’t gotten an MVP, but I’m pretty sure he might do it whenever he gets signed.”

As for this year’s science project, it was Mom who came up with the idea. But that didn’t mean Dad didn’t try.

“My idea was to measure quarterback performance with age,” Chris Davis said. “It wasn’t just going to be picking on Brady, but he was going to be at the top of the depth chart. It was gonna be Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and just compare their stats by ages and ‘Does performance decline as the years go by?’ And the wife nipped that in the bud.”

Jennie Davis said they went very basic.

“We ended up checking to see what things float in different liquid,” she said. “I didn’t want to have a circus again. We went with a very, very basic science project. And I’m hoping he’s grown out of them so we don’t have to do them anymore.”

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