suspended for four games. The New England Patriots lost a first-round draft pick next season and a fourth-round pick in 2017 and also have to cough up a million dollars. And the NFL handed out on Monday what will not only be a popular punishment for the legions of Patriot haters, but also a deserved one.
As I wrote Sunday, Brady had to be suspended for his role in "Deflategate," no matter how murky he and the Patriots tried to make the water around it. The four-game suspension -- which Brady's agent announced he would appeal -- was exactly what I advocated. Why?
Simply, Brady seemed shady. He wasn't totally forthcoming during the investigation into the footballs deflated before the AFC championship game, and a reasonable man would assume that is because he had something to hide. Basically, the Patriots cheated and got caught -- that's how I and millions of others read it. (The Patriots don't believe they did anything wrong, though).
Remember -- and a retired judge pointed this out to me -- the burden of proof is different in a case like this. The bar is set lower, because while "Deflategate" is a juicy topic it is not a criminal investigation. Brady is an employee of the NFL, and based on its investigation it has determined that there is a preponderance of evidence that more likely than not Brady knew about and agreed with what was going on. Thus, the quarterback violated the integrity of the game.
The suspension of one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history for the first four games of this season will be one of the biggest stories in the league in 2015. New England won its fourth Super Bowl under Brady earlier this year. Now the Patriots will likely be starting Jimmy Garoppolo for a month. The loss of a first-round draft pick is also significant; the fourth-round pick and the million dollars, not so much.
The many fans who are jealous of the Patriots' success will revel in the Patriots' golden boy getting punished. But I am not happy about it for that reason. I am happy about it because Brady and the Patriots deserved it.
This was an obvious skirting of the rules, and no one on the Patriots' side has defended the quarterback with a lot of specifics for very good reason. The specifics would make him look bad. Brady will still be a first-ballot hall of famer, but Deflategate now and forever will also be a part of his legacy.
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