By: Anthony Bertacchi

This is almost over, I swear.

After over six months (192 days) of debating and yelling about what was going to happen with deflated footballs and the New England Patriots (I hate the word Deflategate. Watergate had nothing to do with water. It’s lazy) the NFL (Roger Goodell) decided to uphold the suspension of four games for Tom Brady.

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Not only did they keep the suspension the same but they released information that is damming for Brady. Around the same time as the suspension announcement reports surfaced that Brady “destroyed” his phone after Goodell and the NFL requested to see it. Destroyed is a key word here. They didn’t say he got rid of his phone or that he dropped it and it cracked or even that he lost it. Destroyed brings up memories of someone hitting it with a hammer or throwing it to the ground.

Apparently that information, along with the fact the NFL and Brady couldn’t come to a resolution of fewer games led Goodell to keep the original punishment. Take your four games and get out of my office, so to speak.

Great! Now it’s all over, right? Brady got punished. He filed an appeal and the appeal was denied. Nothing more to see here and everyone can go home. Now you can go about your day screaming that he cheated for the rest of his career.

Nope. Brady decided he wants fight this in federal court and Robert Kraft went on the offensive in a press conference the next day.

 

 

They believe that when an independent judge sees what has happened Brady will be fully exonerated. Whether he will be or not nobody has any idea.

Now, perhaps Brady did the things that he’s accused of. It’s very possible that he wanted the footballs at the lowest point it could be and had the ball boys deflate them a little less than the legal limit. Then he got caught and six months later here we are. So, let’s say that happened. Let’s say that he did the crime that people are accusing him of doing.

If all of that is true then the next step once you think someone is guilty is to deliver punishment.

Again, think back to before any of this happened. Think back to before “Deflategate” became a thing and before this became a national story. What do you think the punishment for something like football tampering was?

Maybe you think it was a hefty fine and a two game suspension. Maybe you think it’s just a one game suspension for first time offenders but, considering the Patriots have a history, they were treated harsher. That would make sense.

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Not exactly…

By rule teams tampering with balls are subject to a $25,000 fine.

Yep, that’s it. The baseline punishment for something like this is a fine that’s a little bit more than the NFL gives out for a blind-side block. ($23,152)

In December of 2014 it was reported that a game between the Carolina Panthers and the Minnesota Vikings saw that the balls being heated up because it was cold outside. There’s no evidence of them doing it during the game but they were seen doing it beforehand. Do you know what the punishment was?

A warning. “Don’t do it again! We’ll be watching you!” That was the tone of the statement. Below is the quote from Dean Blandino, NFL V.P. of officiating.

“You can’t do anything with the footballs in terms of any artificial, whether you’re heating them up, whether it’s a regular game ball or kicking ball, you can’t do anything to the football. So that was noticed during the game, both teams were made aware of it during the game and we will certainly remind the clubs as we get into more cold weather games that you can’t do anything with the football in terms of heating them up with those sideline heaters.”

That story broke on December 1st. The game that this deflating of footballs allegedly happened was on January 18th. So, you’re telling me that the league decided to go from a warning to a fine of $1 million, a loss of two draft picks and a four game suspension for Tom Brady.

Am I saying that Brady is innocent of everything here? No, he probably has some blame.

The problem is two-fold.

First, nobody seems to have confidence in the man making the punishments. To say that Roger Goodell has had a bad two years would be gentle. The Ray Rice situation was bad. The New Orleans Saints bounty situation looks bad and now we’re at the point where Goodell punishes the Patriots harsher than he did for a DUI and marijuana possession, which leads me to the second problem.

The punishment seems so out of whack. The DUI and marijuana part I referenced earlier involves Le’Veon Bell. Bell got his suspension reduced from three games to two games after an incident involving Marijuana and a DUI. He talked to the commissioner, pled it down to a lesser sentence and walked away. Greg Hardy originally had a ten game suspension for this season until he went into the NFL’s office and pleaded it down to four games. The difference between Brady and the others is he didn’t try to get it reduced to less games. He wanted it to go to zero games. Goodell said no and here we are.

Remember, Brady’s suspension is also four games. That’s the same as Greg Hardy. Here’s a link to what Hardy allegedly did, in case you’re interested.

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The NFL seems to be making this up as they go along and if Brady can find a way to win this in court I’ll be fascinated to see what happens next. According to reports, both the NFLPA and the NFL want this case to be finished before the season starts. No matter what happens this will easily be the top story throughout the next month or so.