If you’re a football fan you’ve surely heard of the NFL’s latest great scandal, DeflateGate. It involves New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady ordering team personnel to deflate the ball to his specifications, making passing and holding onto the ball easier. This would have provided his team with a distinct advantage, and given their recent Super Bowl-winning season, one does get the impression that this title may have been a bit tainted. The NFL responded by dropping down a serious 4-game suspension for Brady, a $1million fine for the team, and a loss of two future draft picks, including a first-rounder next year. It’s quite a big hit, and we must ask: was this fair?
Despite the polarizing clamor around fans and sports commentators, I actually commend commissioner Roger Goodell for this punishment. It’s serious enough to make a statement, and it adequately punishes someone for cheating. In respects to the suspension, a star quarterback missing a fourth of the season will certainly set the Patriots back. However, even if they fall to 0-4 (which is certainly possible without Brady), they’ll be able to recover and save the year.
The draft pick is the biggest blow, especially given the fact that Brady’s retirement is impending. He is 37 and when he leaves, the New England dynasty is likely to falter greatly. Losing a first round talent in a period when the future is so uncertain will be a definite setback.
The $1million fine is a bit of a joke given how wealthy NFL teams and their owners are but it does leave a statement that such cheating cannot be tolerated, and is more of a reassurance to fans that the NFL will police those who circumvent the rules.
As for people trying to state that this punishment is unjustified, I feel they’re gravely erroneous. One area in particular I look to is the issue of fumbling. The Patriots have been one of the league’s best in this department for ages, and that had been previously been attributed to coach Bill Belichick’s genius, but now we know the truth. It’s much easier to hold onto a deflated ball, which greatly reduces fumbles. The Patriots were second best in that department in 2014. Fumbles are game-changing plays that can shift momentum and clearly tilt the balance. If your offense can avoid them, you’ve got such better chances to win. And for that reason, I find the cheating by the Patriots to be utterly disgraceful.
Added with the past issue of Spygate and the reports about how visiting teams in New England routinely suffer outages of headsets during games, I think this is a franchise with a major tendency to cheat and break rules. Part of me actually feels that there could have been a tougher sentence imposed, especially given the fact that they won the last Super Bowl. Nevertheless, for the commissioner to take quarterback Tom Brady out of action for the first month of the 2015 season, and impose such humiliation one on of the league’s most popular players takes guts, and I’m happy a reasonable punishment was handed down.