For the New England Patriots’ DeflateGate scandal, it’s a saga that never seems to end. Just when everyone is thinking that the ordeal will be coming to its conclusion, something comes up and the light at the end of tunnel remains far away. When this whole process eventually comes to an end, don’t expect either side to come out looking better than they did in the beginning.
Many people in NFL feel that the NFL office is making a mountain out of mole hill about the Patriots deflating footballs and they are. There were teams throughout the past couple of seasons that have altered the balls and the worst penalty they had been given was a $20,000 fine. Now there is a four-game suspension for Tom Brady, $1 million fine and the loss of two draft picks. The NFL is saying that the punishment is due to the club’s attempt to impede the investigation.
Even though the league may be blowing this out of proportion, it is clear that the Patriots most likely did something. They have a history of trying to circumvent the rules and have been caught breaking the rules in the past. No matter how much they win after taking their punishment, many still raise a suspicious eye to their success assuming that once a cheater is always a cheater. While the Patriots may have done something, all the evidence is circumstantial and should not have resulted in such a stiff penalty. Because the penalty was so stiff, the saga continues and the Patriots aren’t taking it lying down.
There is going to be an appeal, at least from Tom Brady. The suspension could be reduced if not removed completely. Even if Brady does not miss a game though, the damage has been done to Brady’s reputation and that is something that will take a long time for him to build back up. In the matter of one week, Brady has gone from being one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the game to just another dirty cheater.
If the punishment does get reduced or erased, the NFL will come under fire for not being able to do their job effectively. This will be another major suspension that the league has not been able to make stick. The league had suspended Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice, but both of those were defeated and overturned while Greg Hardy could have his overturned also. Brady hired the same lawyer that worked the Rice and Peterson case and there is less evidence that Brady did something wrong here so it is reasonable to think that Brady’s suspension could be overturned as well.
People are not sure whether or not the Patriots and/or Brady will try to take the NFL to court and claim that it was a persecution and defamation of team and character and they might have a case. This would be the last thing that both sides would want as there is question as to whether the league had enough evidence for such a heavy punishment. The Patriots on the other hand would have to turn over Brady’s cell phone and make Jim McNally available for questioning which could unearth even more unpleasant things about the operations.
The one thing that the NFL should have done was go after the coach Bill Belichick. Many people feel that he is getting off light and if the punishment is supposed to be a deterrent toward future violations he should miss some time. The team was found of no wrongdoing yet still punished so the same could have been said about the coach.
Belichick has proven that the he can win without Tom Brady as he almost took the team to the playoffs without him when he missed the season in 2008 to injury. Belichick is not only the head coach, but the general manager also, so losing him would be big for the Patriots. When the Saints were involved in the Bounty-Gate scandal, they lost their head coach for a season and their general manager. The league needed to send a message to the Patriots and it starts with Belichick. He escaped major punishment for Spygate and he did so again here.
At the end of the day, the damage to the Patriots’ reputation has already been done no matter what happens in the appeal. Ever since the initial report came out, there were some that condemned them that day. If people believed the Patriots are still innocent, that won’t change and the same can be said for the opposite. The NFL has turned this into a much bigger ordeal and in the end they could be just as guilty for prolonging this as New England. While it is impossible to tell what will come next, the one thing I can say is that the longer this is drawn out, the worse both sides will look.