I don't normally use this space to talk sports, but with the recent news concerning Tom Brady's four-game suspension being upheld, I find myself in an odd position. As an ex-(sports)journalist, I must maintain some level of objectivity. In earlier reports, the NFL's investigation found that Brady was "at least generally aware" that footballs were being deflated. It was never proven that he was the individual directing the two Patriots employees to deflate footballs.
The question becomes how is his behavior construed and what category does it fall under? Some say that deflating, or otherwise tampering with game footballs falls under the category of attempting to gain an unfair advantage which ruins the integrity of the game, blah, blah, blah. Okay, sure. In that regard, tampering with game footballs is similar to Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) which carries a suspension penalty of up to six games depending on the severity.
If we are comparing Brady's activities to PEDs, It is important to establish what level of severity deflating footballs is. According to his suspension, it is akin to taking a steroid or other banned substance (four-game suspension) But, I'm doubtful that his actions were that severe.
Some may recall that the deflated footballs were identified at the end of the first half of the Patriots-Colts playoff game. At the start of the second half, new, un-tampered footballs were put into use and the Patriots proceeded to score twenty-one points in the third quarter. So, the during the game when the Patriots were the most prolific, they were using regulation-sized footballs.
If the deflation of footballs had no effect on the game wherein they were discovered, how can the League rightfully suspend Brady for four games? If anything it should be a two-game suspension. Now, if the NFL is suspending Brady for being "uncooperative" that is different. While, that feels generally unfair to me, I suspect there is some elastic rule in the NFL Personal Conduct Policy that allows the League to come down on Brady and other players who damage the integrity of the brand through an unwillingness to answer questions.
That word "integrity" keeps coming up. Still, when I think about this as a "level-headed," and "logical" journalist, the facts don't seem to add up. Four games seems a bit much for being "at least generally aware" of tampering.
As a fan, I'm raging a bit.
This is, yet again, another attempt by the League and Goodell to tear down the greatness that has been established at Foxboro. Haters will call the Patriots cheaters. It's gamesmanship. We're better at it than you (Ravens). Deal with it. Don't be mad because your sorry-ass team didn't make the playoffs, or made the playoffs, but wasn't competitive (Colts). Or worst yet, was the height of arrogance when your coach decided to throw the ball on the 2-yard line instead of run it in with Lynch (Seahawks). Stop crying because we keep winning. We are a good team, with good players who play well together. That's what it takes. But go ahead and let everyone know how much you think we cheat, and how you "totally called it" in the comment section of all the stories out today about the suspension being upheld. Brady will see the NFL in court.
Sorry, where was I... Oh yes, my thoughts, random as always.