NFL Suspends Patriots’ Star QB Tom Brady Four Games over ‘Deflategate’
The National Football League has suspended New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady for four games without pay for conduct related to the team’s ‘Deflategate’ scandal.
The Patriots will begin their Super Bowl title defense without the services of the 37-year-old Brady, who is widely regarded as the franchise’s all-time best player and a future Hall of Fame inductee. NFL.com reports Brady will miss the first four games of the 2015-2016 season for “violating the NFL policy on the integrity of the game.” The Patriots will also be fined $1 million and will forfeit a 2016 first-round draft pick and a 2017 fourth-round draft selection.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell authorized the punishment imposed by NFL Executive President Troy Vincent, who cited the quarterback’s lack of cooperation in a letter to Brady explaining the league’s decision.
“With respect to your particular involvement, the report 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,” Vincent wrote. “Moreover, the report documents your failure to cooperate fully and candidly with the investigation, including by refusing to produce any relevant electronic evidence (emails, texts, etc.), despite being offered extraordinary safeguards by the investigators to protect unrelated personal information, and by providing testimony that the report concludes was not plausible and contradicted by other evidence.”
Brady’s punishment was announced five days after the release of a lengthy report which concluded the Patriots deliberately deflated footballs prior to the AFC Championship Game in January, in which the team defeated the Indianapolis Colts 45-7, securing a trip to Super Bowl XLIX. The Patriots would then defeat the Seattle Seahawks, clinching their fourth championship of the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era.
“You know, whatever it takes,” Brady told Fox Sports after throwing for four touchdowns in the Pats’ thrilling 28-24 victory. Apparently “whatever it takes” involved more than just brilliant on-field play.
The 243-page Wells report concluded it was “more probable than not” that Brady knew about plans to deflate game footballs to his liking, which was below the NFL-mandated minimum of 12.5 pounds per square inch. The report identified Patriots locker room attendant Jim McNally and team equipment assistant John Jastremski as the actual deflators.
Brady has repeatedly denied knowledge of the deflations, but the Wells report rejected the quarterback’s claims as “not plausible and contradicted by other evidence.” Don Yee, Brady’s agent, protested that the report “contains significant and tragic flaws” and “is a significant and terrible disappointment.” Yee accused the NFL of participating in a “sting operation” with the Colts in a bid to discredit and cast aspersions upon the Patriots and their latest championship.
The Patriots have a history of cheating spanning decades. While some incidents—like serious drug problems—are by no means unique to the Patriots, others, including ‘Snowplow-gate,’ ‘Tuck-gate’ and the infamous ‘Spy-gate,’ have earned the team a reputation for dishonesty, and even before ‘Deflategate’ many observers called the team the biggest cheaters in all of American professional sports.
Still, legions of loyal Patriots fans stood by their hero with a zeal that sometimes bordered on the religious.
“Brady Jesus was crucified today for the sins of the NFL,” quipped Andover, Massachusetts native Eli Wilkie, who insisted to Moral Low Ground that “there was no crime, just a witch hunt and a questionable ‘probable’ and ‘generally.'”
“Don’t Matter. Don’t Care. We still got that ring and will probably get another one before these punishments have any affect. #GoPats,” tweeted Russell Schaap, a Patriots fan living in Arkansas.
Brady’s suspension means the Patriots will likely turn to backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo when the reigning champs host the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers on opening day of the 2015-2016 season on September 10. That suits many Steelers fans, who were victimized by Patriots’ cheating during ‘Spy-gate,’ just fine.
Lifelong Steelers fan and Pittsburgh native Justin Shah, 39, who admits Brady is a “sick” quarterback, lamented to Moral Low Ground that “cheaters never win, except for the Patriots, who seem to do it all the time.”
But winning is going to be significantly more difficult with Brady sitting out a quarter of the coming season.