"Sheriff Goodell" is back.
Less than a year after his own job security was being questioned because of seemingly mild punishments being dished out to players who were involved in domestic violence incidents, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell penalized arguably the face of the NFL with one of the stiffest penalties in league history Monday. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will be suspended, without pay, for the first four games of the 2015 season (a quarter of the year). The baseball equivalent would be a whopping 40.5 games. The punishment stems from the release of the Wells Report last week, which stated that it was “more probable than not” that Brady had knowledge that Patriots employees Jim McNally and John Jastremski were deflating footballs to a level lower than is approved by the NFL. The Patriots as an organization were drilled as well, as they were fined $1 million and will forfeit a 2016 first round draft pick and a fourth round pick in 2017.
Brady’s agent, Don Yee, did not hesitate is saying that Brady’s camp will appeal the suspension, coming out with a harsh rebuttal a little over an hour after Monday’s news broke.
“The discipline is ridiculous and has no legitimate basis,” Yee said in a statement. “In my opinion, this outcome was pre-determined; there was no fairness in the Wells investigation whatsoever. There is no evidence that Tom directed footballs be set at pressures below the allowable limits. In fact, the evidence shows Tom clearly emphasized that footballs be set at pressures within the rules. Tom also cooperated with the investigation and answered every question presented to him. The Wells Report presents significant evidence, however, that the NFL lacks standards or protocols with respect to its handling of footballs prior to games; this is not the fault of Tom or the Patriots. The report also presents significant evidence the NFL participated with the Colts in some type of pre-AFC Championship Game planning regarding the footballs. This fact may raise serious questions about the integrity of the games we view on Sundays. We will appeal, and if the hearing officer is completely independent and neutral, I am very confident the Wells Report will be exposed as an incredibly frail exercise in fact-finding and logic. The NFL has a well-documented history of making poor disciplinary decisions that often are overturned when truly independent and neutral judges or arbitrators preside, and a former federal judge has found the commissioner has abused his discretion in the past, so this outcome does not surprise me. Sadly, today’s decision diminishes the NFL as it tells its fans, players and coaches that the games on the field don’t count as much as the games played on Park Avenue.”