Yesterday, the NFL came down with a punishment for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots that nearly everyone around the League found to be overly harsh. Tom Brady is expected to appeal the League’s decision of a 4 game suspension before the end of the day on Thursday. The League will then assign an official, likely Herald Henderson, to oversee the appeals process which could take up to a couple months.
In breaking down the punishment and the tone of the letter that the League issued, there are a few things that stand out. First, the NFL stripped the NFL of two draft picks, their 2016 1st round pick and their 2017 4th round pick; making the Patriots the first team since 1980 to be stripped of two 1st round picks. Moreover the 4-game suspension to Brady is the longest suspension for an NFL quarterback since Terrelle Pryor who was suspended 5 games for his lack of integrity in accepting gifts to impinge his amateur status as a collegiate athlete. The $1 million fine was the largest fine in NFL history, although is probably the least detrimental component to the punishment.
In a letter to the Patriots, NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent wrote that an investigation had found “the footballs used by the Patriots were inflated at a level that did not satisfy the standard set forth in the NFL’s Official Playing Rules and that the condition of the footballs was the result of deliberate actions by employees of the Patriots.”
Looking at the actions, in an of themselves, of the Patriots, the vast majority would say well the punishment does not fit the crime. Not only are we talking about a mere 0.5 difference in the psi of the footballs, but the investigation was not even able to find hard evidence that Brady was aware of this occurring. In the letter to Brady, Vincent wrote that the investigation “established that there is substantial and credible evidence to conclude you were at least generally aware of the actions of the Patriots’ employees involved in the deflation of the footballs and that it was unlikely that their actions were done without your knowledge.” What the league took exception to with Brady and the Patriots were the fact that they were repeat offenders (2007 Spygate) and that they “did not cooperate with the investigation.”
The last time I checked, our legal system is based on the premise, “innocent until proven guilty.”
Well let’s look what this potentially sets up. Now Tom Brady will open his 2015 campaign in Week 6 against the Indianapolis Colts, the very same team that was part of Deflategate … oh, and it’s on Sunday Night Football. The NFL puts another $1 million in their pockets … that I’m sure they’re in desperate need of getting (sarcasm). And the ongoing villain storyline of the New England Patriots continues to build.
When we have issues of domestic abuse with Ray Rice, the bounty scandal with the New Orleans Saints, and the ever-increasing criminal charges NFL players are amounting … the League choses to focus on a locker room official who mistakenly interfered with the weight of a few footballs.
Time will tell how Rodger Goodell and the League tries to bring justice to Deflategate.