Now Tom Brady Is Suspended, Can We Quit Pretending The NFL's Biggest Problem Is Those Balls?
Months after the Super Bowl, the NFL announced it would suspend Tom Brady for the first four games of the 2015 season for his alleged role in Deflategate. Additionally, the New England Patriots will pay a $1 million fine and forfeit its first-round 2016 draft picks and fourth-round 2017 picks. Last week, an investigation by attorney Ted Wells concluded that the balls used in the 2014 AFC Championship game were tampered with, and that Super Bowl MVP Brady allegedly probably knew it was happening. Brady, for his part, has flatly denied any involvement or knowledge of the incident.
In a statement released on Monday, the NFL also revealed that two Patriots employees the league believed to be involved in allegedly deflating the balls were indefinitely suspended from the club. One of them was apparently known as "The Deflator," according to the Wells report, which might be the worst supervillain name in the history of everything.
But now that we've got an official response from the NFL, can we finally stop talking about Tom Brady's balls? Brady has three days to appeal the decision to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, but can I just please have a moment of not snickering like a teenage boy every time I hear about Deflategate? Plus, NFL, I think you've got issues other than air pressure to worry about.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who contends that the balls were untouched, expressed his disappointment in the investigation's conclusion in a statement.
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.
Let's talk about "reasonable expectations" for a second. Brady was suspended for four games. Yes, a lot of people siding with the quarterback think that's harsh. But something that Goodell should note is that Brady's suspension for allegedly knowing about saggy balls is twice as long as Ray Rice's initial suspension for punching his fiancée in an elevator. It took a severe public backlash and footage of the incident going viral for the NFL to crack down on Rice's punishment.
No matter if it actually happened or not, Deflategate is done. Yes, the alleged incident it could have serious implications for the Patriots and the league as a whole. But you know what else has serious implications? A well-established history of NFL players involved in domestic violence.
In the fallout of the Ray Rice debacle, the NFL has tried to clean up its act. It partnered with anti-domestic violence group No More, filming PSAs featuring current and former players and running a 30-second spot about the campaign during the Super Bowl. But it's curious that an alleged rules violation, however bizarre, provoked such a harsh and immediate reaction, but it took years for the NFL to properly punish players for sexual abuse and domestic violence.
So, yeah. Let's stop talking about balls and get back to the important stuff, shall we?
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