The New England Patriots get punished harshly for not really doing anything, while Tom Brady, who probably did do something or at least know about it, gets suspended. Somehow, despite all of his practice, Roger Goodell managed to mess up another handing out of punishment.
Brady will miss the first four games of next season which includes not getting paid for them ($2 million in total) while the Patriots are fined $1 million and lose two draft picks: A first rounder in 2016 and a fourth-round pick in 2017. Going back to Spygate, the Patriots have now lost two first round draft picks via league punishments, the only team to ever be given that harsh of a punishment.
The dose of discipline comes due to the release of the Wells reports, investigating the case of the deflated balls in the AFC championship game, an occasion that would have ended in more or less the same result with or without highly pressurized balls. But the Patriots, or at least two members of their staff, did probably mess around with the balls, and due to the text exchanges between Brady and the two staffers, it’s hard not to make the connection between the quarterback, who at least knew about it if not actually ordered it.
Obviously, no one with the Patriots is happy about it. From owner Robert Kraft to players on the team and Brady’s agent. They all feel or at least are claiming that nothing wrong has been done, nothing has been proven, and that the punishments have been completely blown out of proportions. It’s always good to know that Kraft is one of the strongest owners in the NFL when it comes to his influence and connection with Goodell, but he seemed to be blindsided in this case by the severity of the disciplinary result.
If both Kraft and Bill Belichick were pretty much made to look clean by the Wells reports, which is the basis for this punishment, how come the team is fined so heavily, not to mention loses two draft picks in the next two seasons? And how does deflating a football, or at least probably knowing about it, become a more severe offense than hitting a woman on camera or using performance enhancing drugs?
If Goodell wanted to somehow help his own public persona and make the NFL seem like a league sound logic behind it’s disciplinary decisions, he failed. It once again makes it seem like a completely arbitrary process, and that the NFL works in ways mysterious to us all, often pandering to some sort of late public reaction to events instead of doing things by a certain protocol or standard procedure.
Does this, at any point, put Goodell at risk with the owners? Last year made it clear that no matter how badly he f**** up, he has the owners’ support because of how much money he makes the league. But some of his decisions hurt specific owners, sometimes some of his strongest supporters. When does his disciplinary ego trip start making him one too many enemies from within?