Does the punishment fit the crime?
By Peter Santo
Preposterous. Absurd. Crazy. All of these words can be described the NFL’s ruling and eventual punishment handed down to Tom Brady and the Patriots.
The NFL claims that during the AFC championship game a majority of the footballs in use by the Patriots were found to be under the regular PSI of 12.5. After an extensive investigation by Ted Wells, who wrote a 243 page report stating there is a possible chance the Patriots cheated, the NFL struck down on one of the league’s greatest players and teams.
The final punishment is a suspension of Tom Brady for 4 games, a 1 million dollar fine and the loss of two draft picks, including a first rounder in 2016.
There are multiple issues with this suspension and discipline handed down by Roger Goodell and the NFL. In the legal system, guilt must be proved “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and that is clearly not the case with Brady.
Brady’s suspension is largely based on his lack of cooperation with the investigation. This “evidence” is entirely circumstantial and can easily be explained by Brady simply listening to his bosses, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft.
This punishment further proves the incompetence of Roger Goodell and the NFL in handing down discipline and is extremely harsh in comparison to other recent suspensions.
Let’s compare Brady’s punishment with other players who have recently been suspended. Ray Rice, is seen in a video, dragging his unconscious and lifeless wife from an elevator. It is later known that he hit her causing her to lose consciousness.
His suspension was only 2 games however, which makes me believe the NFL would rather see their players beat their wives/fiances/girlfriends, of which we have video evidence, then possibly deflate the footballs to gain an advantage.
Brady will obviously appeal his punishment but how can a man be suspended through a report that does not have any hard evidence, just belief based on NFL refs or NFL officials who despise the Patriots.
The report proves that we can not be entirely certain that the Patriots cheated. I thought the saying was Innocent until proven guilty, not guilty until suspended. The report says that Brady “probably” knew, and until he is known to be guilty for sure, then a suspension can be handed down.
The last piece of the puzzle is the game itself. The Colts got annihilated, it wasn’t even close from the first snap. Even after the so-called deflated balls were removed, Brady went 12-14 in the 2nd half, leading a 45-7 dominating performance in the AFC title game. In the Super Bowl, with completely normal footballs, the Patriots beat the Seahawks and Brady threw 37-50 with 328 yards and 4 TD’s.
While the suspension against Brady is certainly not warranted, we can not ignore the fact that the Patriots brought most of this on themselves. If they had simply come out and admitted that an equipment manager deflated the balls, that they were sorry and would accept the consequences, none of this would’ve happened.
If they had cooperated, the team likely would have just been fined, no suspension, no draft pick loss. It is clear that Brady was simply acting on orders from his superiors, and that Belichick and Kraft thought they were above the league.
By fighting this until the bitter end, by refusing to accept responsibility for their actions, the Patriots not only tarnished their reputation, but they left their star quarterback out to dry. Despite Kraft saying “Brady has our unconditional support,” I’m sure Brady would’ve liked a bit more support BEFORE he was suspended for four games.
While the punishment did its job in proving that no one is above the law of the league, they went after the wrong guy. This is a lack of control from the ownership on down, the best QB of all time is not at fault. And in the end, the Patriots won the Super Bowl, and no one can take that away.
Tim Rey also contributed to this report.