Five days after the release of the Wells Report, Roger Goodell and the NFL suspended New England Patriots quarterback for the first four games of the 2015 NFL season without pay for being “generally aware” of rule infractions committed by Patriots staff members during the AFC Championship game. (RELATED: Wells Report Releases No New Evidence, Still Busts Brady’s Balls)
In addition to Brady’s individual suspension, the league fined New England a cool $1 million — the largest fine in league history — and docked the team of its first-round pick in 2016 and its fourth-round pick in 2017. (RELATED: Tom Brady’s Agent Responds To Wells Report Accusations)
Brady was notified of his punishment via a letter from the league:
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. 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.
Your actions as set forth in the report clearly constitute conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the game of professional football. The integrity of the game is of paramount importance to everyone in our league, and requires unshakable commitment to fairness and compliance with the playing rules. Each player, no matter how accomplished and otherwise respected, has an obligation to comply with the rules and must be held accountable for his actions when those rules are violated and the public’s confidence in the game is called into question.
DISCLAIMER: I’d like the readers to know that I am not, in fact, a Patriots fan. I was born in Chapel Hill, raised in Atlanta and was unfortunately saddled with the burden of being a die-hard Falcons fan. Rise up.
But I digress.
This entire thing is an absolute joke.
Based on the letter sent to Brady, the league found no concrete evidence of his direct role in Deflate-Gate. Was he involved in any capacity? Possibly, but it’s not like TMZ sent Roger Goodell a video of Brady beating up the locker-room attendants in an elevator and forcing them to deflate those balls.
Ray Rice was suspended for two games, yet Tom Brady gets four because he didn’t “produce any relevant electronic evidence”? This has nothing to do with any actual rule infractions, but is instead another extension of Goodell’s ego-maniacal god-complex.
Roger Goodell is a shit-eating moron. Under his watch, the NFL has adopted the very American legal tradition of manufacturing crime out of crime. You can take a small crime — any crime, really — and you can inflate it by making the PROCESS of pursuing that crime utterly sacrosanct, to the point where an entity like the NFL says, with a straight face, that “The extent to which the club and relevant individuals cooperated with the investigation” is somehow one of the most important factors in determining if a man — even one as wildly successful and wealthy as Tom Brady — should be allowed pursue his livelihood and collect his paycheck…
Brady’s crime isn’t that he doctored balls, it’s that he didn’t SUBMIT…
You see how that works? The original crime becomes irrelevant next to the NFL’s insistence that — if under investigation — you bend over and let them drip hot wax all over your balls, or else. Making everyone obey every last protocol of a bullshit internal probe is a hell of a way to invent new powers for yourself. This is how Sean Payton found himself out of the league for a YEAR strictly for the crime of “ignorance” during Bountygate … a satellite offense so far removed from the original crime as to be applicable to your grandma as well…
The NFL is now in the business of punishment, and with the completely arbitrary and stupid machine they’ve put in place, they can pretty much punish anyone for any reason in any way now.
This is the perfect scandal for Goodell, and he knows it. Unless you’re a Pats fan, there’s a good chance you legitimately hate Tom Brady, and he’s simply taking advantage of that fact. Ray Rice. Greg Hardy. Adrian Peterson. The past year has been a PR shit-storm for the NFL’s conniver-in-chief, and this is an opportunity for him to remind everyone that he actually cares about the “integrity of and public confidence in the game of professional football,” and not just collecting his nearly $100 million in yearly salary.
The NFL is an unstoppable revenue machine, and was one well before Goodell united the great houses of Westeros, overthrew the “Mad King” and took the Iron Throne for his own, or however he thinks he earned his position. The fact that Goodell feels the need to force the rest of the league to prostrate and stroke his ego shows he’s not only — as Deadspin put it — “a shit-eating moron,” but legitimately thinks he’s single-handedly responsible for the sport’s popularity.
According to ESPN, Tom Brady will appeal his suspension, and Pats fans will be happy to hear he might actually get it reduced. Chalk up another win for the wise and merciful commissioner.