The NFL did the unthinkable. It suspended one of the best quarterbacks of all time, a man fresh off a Super Bowl victory,for four games.
The announcement came Monday afternoon, earlier than many expected. And harsher too.
In addition to the sanctions on Tom Brady, the league is docking the Patriots of their first round pick in 2016 and fourth round pick in 2017. The team also faces $1 million in fines.
The punishments, of course, come in the wake of what has been deemed 'deflate-gate,' with the Patriots using illegally under-inflated footballs during the first half of their AFC title game win over the Colts. Ironically, Brady is first eligible to return vs. the Colts in Week 6.
The damning Wells Report last week directly linked Brady to text messages and conversations with Patriots equipmentstaffers about the illegal footballs. The report deemed that Brady probably knew about the footballs, and that was enough for Roger Goodell to throw the book at Brady and the Pats.
The punishments may be more indicative of the attempted cover-up than of the actual crime, which obviously was not necessary as the Pats dismantled the Colts in the post season. Brady, head coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Craft all went on record vehemently denying any wrong-doing, even criticizing the league for its interest in the violations in the first place.
The first round pick is perhaps the harshest penalty ever given by the NFL.
Without Brady, New England will take on the Steelers, Bills, Jaguars and Cowboys with their Week 4 bye week in the middle. Those games will likely be started by Jimmy Garoppolo (who has 27 career passed in the NFL), or perhaps a free agent pick up made in the wake of this news.