Tom Brady, overly protected by game officials, media darling, personal friend of CBS’ Jim Nantz, Mr. Bundchen, object of Phil Simms’ desire – suspended for four games for “allegedly” cheating and failing to cooperate with the NFL’s investigation into DeflateGate.
The team, for all their “beautiful” smugness, collective sense of entitlement and apparent affinity for pushing rules to the limit and beyond, was slapped with a $1million fine and stripped of their 2016 first-round pick and their 2017 fourth-round pick.
The fine was for owner Robert Kraft. The draft picks represent coach Bill Belichick’s detention.
Patriots’ defenders are in an uproar and claim that the penalty is too severe. Patriots’ adversaries believe that the reprimand is too light and represents a relative slap on the wrist after challenging the game’s integrity.
This polarization might suggest that the league got it just about right.
Oftentimes when violations such as Brady’s alleged transgressions are examined and subsequently penalized, we look to priors in the world of sports to draw comparisons and properly reprimand.
Deflated balls are akin to Major League pitchers doctoring baseballs or even Sammy Sosa corking his bat. Yet you’d be hard-pressed to find any such perpetrators being punished as severely as Brady and the Patriots.
Clearly past transgressions have seeped into the thought processes of commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFLPA’s Troy Vincent and their respective associates. It’s hard to not be influenced by SpyGate and to a lesser degree the gamesmanship of the team’s offensive formations against the Baltimore Ravens.
“Maybe those guys gotta study the rule book and figure it out.” ~ Tom Brady’s message to the Baltimore Ravens following the 2015 Divisional Playoff Game
Perhaps that’s unfair. Should a previous unrelated offense affect the innocence or guilt of a new crime?
Some will argue that prior offenses establish a precedent and a pattern of illicit behavior. When you regularly get called to the principal’s office it’s hard not to be suspicious.
Some will say that DeflateGate and the succeeding smug denial is further evidence of an organizational above-the-law mindset, behavior synonymous with those who view themselves as elite.
And therein lies the problem – the Patriots’ collective sense of entitlement seemingly represents the smoking gun.
Their owner publicly demanded apologies from the league when humility was in order.
Organizationally they failed to fully cooperate with the Ted Wells investigation.
It’s hard not to assume that there’s something to hide when such petulance rears its ugly head.
Combine that with a commissioner who is looking to regain confidence and credibility among his constituents and the Patriots penalty was a fairly predictable one.
Even Brady supporters must admit that the future Hall of Fame quarterback’s answers to pointed questions are hollow. He never really answers such questions with any conviction. In many instances he doesn’t answer them at all.
Whether the questions come from Bob Costas prior to the Super Bowl or his recent interview with Jim Gray, he repeatedly fails to come off as a forthright man.
I can only imagine how dodgy he was when he went one-on-one with the commissioner.
Brady will appeal his suspension. No surprise there. We would expect nothing less. It’s akin to the spoiled brat whining to his enabling mother – or in this case father-like figure Robert Kraft.
“Despite our conviction that there was no tampering with footballs, it was our intention to accept any discipline levied by the league. Today’s punishment, however, far exceeded any reasonable expectation. It was based completely on circumstantial rather than hard or conclusive evidence.” ~ Robert Kraft
Brady refused to cooperate. He refused to turn over evidence to either support the claims or exonerate him. If there was nothing to hide, why not provide the evidence?
If a player who was suspected of using PED’s refused to pee in a cup, might that be an admission of guilt? Might the league then mandate a customary 4-game suspension for PED violations?
Of course they would.
And to that extent Brady’s refusal to cooperate is akin to the drug user’s refusal to provide a urine sample.
In the end, the league, Goodell, Vincent and the other owners need to support this suspension. Otherwise, the NFL commissioner will become the empty suit that his former MLB counterpart Bud Selig had always been.
If that happens it will eventually hit the league where it hurts them most – in their wallets!
And then more than balls will be deflated.