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Posted: May 11, 2015

Did the DeflateGate punishment fit the crime?

Sidelines: Central Maine Sports Blog
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Feeling deflated over the NFL’s ruling? You aren’t alone.

The National Football League dropped the proverbial hammer on star quarterback Tom Brady and New England Patriots on Monday evening, levying unprecedented discipline for their supposed roles in Deflategate.

The NFL announced Monday it suspended Brady, a four-time Super Bowl champion, four games and fined the team $1 million dollars and stripped it of two draft picks, a first rounder in 2016 and a fourth rounder in 2017.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement that the discipline is warranted to protect the integrity of the game after an investigation found the Patriots likely tampered with the air pressure of some of the footballs in the AFC Championship game last January against the Colts.

NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent wrote in a letter to Tom Brady, “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.”

So, does the punishment fit the crime?

Here are our takes on the suspension …

BILL STEWART

The discipline handed out by the somewhat inconsistent NFL (see Rice, Ray) is hardly surprising.

However, it’s important to remember, folks, that we are dealing with a repeat offender here. In 2007, you may (or may not, depending on your allegiances) recall the NFL fined the Patriots $500,000 and took away a first round draft pick for videotaping opposing coaches in a scandal widely known as “Spygate.”

The feeling here is that Goodell and company simply have had enough of the Patriots’ shenanigans over the years.

The league felt a message needed to be delivered, and, boy, it did just that.

Most Patriots fans have dissected — and ultimately dismissed as flawed — a 243-page report conducted by attorney Ted Wells and his team into Deflategate.

The league commissioned Wells to handle the probe (a key component to this, no?), and the findings are hardly suitable for Foxborough Frenzies, who should now be asking, ‘what comes next?’

Will Tom Brady fight this? How far will Bob Kraft go with this?

Their reactions are heavily anticipated so stay tuned …

MATT DIFILIPPO

I don’t mind that the investigation took so long — the NFL bungled the Ray Rice “investigation” so badly that the easiest way to show you are out of touch is to speak highly about Roger Goodell.

The league is clearly trying to protect the purity of the game’s competition. Fans have already proven that they’ll keep watching even though there’s a chance a player could end up brain-dead in what should be his golden years. They kept watching when the Rams’ Leonard Little killed a woman while driving drunk and was suspended eight games for that in 1999. And of course, they kept watching after reading about and seeing the horrible acts of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.

But the NFL works very hard to make sure that fans don’t feel the outcome is predetermined, or that one team has an unfair advantage over the other. That’s what the league is trying to protect, and that’s why the NFL is making an example out of Tom Brady.

That said, Peter King is probably the top writer covering the NFL. Just this year, King has said he still supports the Hall of Fame candidacy of convicted rapist Darren Sharper, citing Hall by-laws. King also asked a military veteran how many people he killed and then said on Twitter he didn’t know that was bad form. Oh, and he and he detailed a player’s battles with depression and bipolar disorder as “character flaws.”

So do we really expect the NFL to be a world in which things make sense?

TRAVIS LAZARCZYK

Tom Brady and the Patriots paid a high price for this deflated football nonsense because Goodell and his toadies at the NFL haven’t been able to get much of anything right for quite some time. A despicable man like Ray Rice gets a two-game suspension after knocking his girlfriend out cold. The world rightly called Goodell and his clowns out for that asinine ruling. We all should have known that the next person or team to run afoul of the league was going to get hit with the nuclear option, even if a flyswatter was all that was needed.

More than anything, Goodell wants to be liked. After all the NFL’s screwups, it’s not a question of doing what’s right for Goodell. He’ll do whatever will get him the most applause. In this case, the best way to get applause was to gin up a controversy, and then knock it down. Goodell hopes we’ll ignore years of ineptitude as he goes overboard to punish a trivial offense.

Brady will appeal, and he should. Something tells me no matter the outcome of the appeal, this one will end up in court.

DAVE DYER

Goodell made it clear today — whether at the forefront of his mind or not — that concussions, spousal abuse and steroid use are minor compared to the words “probable” and “maybe” in regards to the deflation of a football. Even after Tom Brady appeals, he will (likely) still be gone for two games. But here’s a thought New Englanders may not be thinking as they sift through their rage: It could be the best thing to ever happen to the New England Patriots. Why? A team can rally around this. Bill Belichick can state to his team that everyone, including the league and its own commissioner, are against the Patriots. An angry, motivated team is a dangerous team. Look for New England to only use this as motivation, not as an excuse.

RANDY WHITEHOUSE

Roger Goodell is playing us all for a bunch of chumps. This alleged scandal has kept football on the front page and on the nightly network newscasts since a week before the Super Bowl. Tom Brady’s appeal will keep it in the headlines for another three months. Oh, and hey, this must be a coincidence — Brady’s first game back will be against the Indianapolis Colts in prime time.

Sorry, not buying the argument that the last thing Goodell wanted to do was discipline the game’s Golden Boy. He’s become Vince McMahon, and yes, Robert Kraft and 31 other owners allowed him, perhaps even goaded him, into it. It’s all about the narrative in the NFL, whether it’s deflated balls or domestic abuse, concussions or challenge flags. It’s all about presenting the product in a way that generates the most revenue. Using words like “integrity” and “competitive balance” keeps the public from having second thoughts when we reach for our wallets. The more a man says “integrity,” the less he actually possesses.

The thing is, this kind of stuff has been going on long enough with Goodell that I just can’t get up in arms over it anymore. Even when it involves my favorite team.

We’ve all thrown our Twitter tantrums and stomped our feet, but we’ll be counting the days until the Patriots play the Steelers on Thursday Night Football (another direct slap to the face of integrity). We’ll be screaming for blood when Brady comes back and annihilates the Colts. Shortly after that, another scandal will arise and Goodell will take some disproporionate action and we’ll complain that he was tougher on Brady than he was on this guy for hitting his dog with a switch in an elevator.

The NFL’s 24-month soap opera continues. The Patriots’ best player just so happens to be the victim for this cycle. Don’t take it personally, my fellow Patriots fans. If you can’t help but take it personally, it’s time to take up apple picking.

EVAN CRAWLEY

OK, so I’m not advocating cheating — which it would appear Tom Brady and the Patriots are guilty of — but given the punishment, would Brady have still done what he did knowing the outcome? Not that I know him personally, but why wouldn’t he?

The only thing that really stings about the punishment levied by Goodell Monday was the first-round draft pick. That, in theory, takes away a player that would be expected to be a starter within his first few years in the league — or in the case of the Patriots, a second- and a fourth-round pick after trading down.

The $1 million fine is essentially meaningless, even though it is the largest one ever levied on an NFL team. According to Forbes, the average NFL team is worth $1.43 billion and New England is at the top portion of that valuation.

Even the Brady suspension doesn’t hurt that much. The Patriots first four games come against Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Jacksonville and Dallas. The Jags are atrocious and that game is almost assuredly a win, and between the other three games the Patriots can (conservatively) win at least one of them.

Even in the worst-case scenario for Pats fans where they lose all four, they will still likely win the division. Say what you will about the improvements the Jets, Bills and Dolphins have made in the offseason, but as long as Geno Smith, E.J. Manuel/Matt Cassell and Ryan Tannehill are the other starting quarterbacks in the AFC East, respectively, the division will remain the Patriots’.

So the question remains: Would you trade $1 million, first- and fourth-round picks and a four-game suspension for your starting quarterback the following season for a Super Bowl?

The Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings and 11 other NFL teams are on line 1.

 

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