NFL made right call in appealing Brady decision

bradyBy: Jason Rathjen

Any follower of the sports world knows of Tom Brady and his accomplishments, good or bad. For those who are not interested in the wide world of sports, Brady is an NFL quarterback for the New England Patriots. He is argued by some to be the best quarterback to ever play the game of football. That, I say, is debatable and is beside the point.

The real point that’s drawn attention to Brady since the end of the last season is when the Patriots went up against the Indianapolis Colts in a very cold, rainy AFC Championship game. The Patriots handily defeated the Colts 45-7, rain and all. They must have cheated, right? Well, that was a serious question, and it was quickly answered.

A couple days after the game, Brady and the some members of the Patriots organization were accused of deflating 11 of the 12 game balls that the Patriots had on their sideline. Why would they deflate the balls? Deflating the football can give an advantage to the player throwing the ball by giving him a better grip on the football when wet or cold. Weird, those were the exact same conditions during the game.

The accusations of cheating did not surprise too many, as the Patriots were famously caught spying on opponent practices in another scandal known as “Spygate” in the early 2000s. So the Patriots already were on a short leash with the league when it comes to cheating.

After a couple of months of private investigation of Patriots players and staff including the head coach, Bill Belichick, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell handed down a $1 million fine to the Patriots, which is pocket change to an organization like New England, so they didn’t argue, but that wasn’t the clincher. Goodell also slapped a controversial four-game suspension on Brady. This sent the sports world into a debate frenzy. Was the punishment too much, too little or just right?

Brady has sworn up and down that he never asked for or knew of deflated footballs, nor did he deflate any himself. So naturally, Brady appealed his suspension of four games. Since the suspension process is unreasonably bureaucratic, the decision did not come for nearly four months. The much anticipated decision was made on Sept. 3 by a federal judge in New York. Brady would not be suspended four games and was eligible to start the season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The decision was an embarrassment to the NFL and especially the commissioner. The world’s most powerful sports league was just defeated by a man just because of his accolades. The NFL then quickly responded by filing its own appeal of the judge’s decision. That is where the situation stands now. At the beginning of another long appeal process.

The overarching question that remains is whether Brady is a cheater or a leader. Obviously, the biased New England fans view Brady as the second coming of the Messiah. But to others who are not blinded by Brady’s charm, he is a man who had to break the rules to win. That is not what I would call a leader. Now did deflated balls really give the Patriots a 38-point advantage? That is a hard point to defend. The Colts are mostly to blame for that large of a deficit.

The fact is, the playing field was still not level. The Patriots did deflate footballs to gain an advantage over their opponent. The NFL needs to assert its authority and punish Brady for what he did. Four games was just right for an act that tarnishes the great game of football.

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