The NFL was unyielding in its punishments of quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the ‘DeflateGate’ scandal. The league announced on Monday that it had suspended Brady for the first four games of the 2015 season while fining the Patriots $1 million and stripping them of first- and fourth-round draft choices.
“We reached these decisions after extensive discussion with Troy Vincent (the league’s executive vice president of football operations) and many others,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a written statement. “We relied on the critical importance of protecting the integrity of the game and the thoroughness and independence of the Wells report.”
The Patriots lose their first-round pick in 2016 and fourth-round selection in 2017. The league said the Patriots were punished for violating the playing rules and failing to cooperate with the NFL’s investigation.
Brady’s suspension is without pay. He was suspended for conduct detrimental to the integrity of the NFL, the league announced.
Attorney Ted Wells, appointed by the NFL to investigate the Patriots’ use of under-inflated footballs in the first half of the AFC championship game in January, wrote in his report released last week that the team probably violated league rules deliberately and Brady probably was at least generally aware of the activities. Wells cited the actions of John Jastremski, an equipment assistant for the team, and Jim McNally, the Patriots’ employee who serves as the attendant to the officials’ locker room at home games.
According to the league’s announcement on Monday, Patriots owner Robert Kraft told Goodell last week that the team had suspended Jastremski and McNally indefinitely without pay. The NFL said on Monday that neither can be reinstated without Vincent’s approval, and even if they are reinstated, there will be limitations on their activities at least through the conclusion of the 2015 season.
“It is impossible to determine whether this activity had an effect on the outcome of games or what that effect was,” Vincent wrote to the Patriots, according to the league’s announcement. “There seems little question that the outcome of the AFC Championship Game was not affected. But this has never been a significant factor in assessing discipline. There are many factors which affect the outcome of a game.
“It is an inherently speculative exercise to try to assign specific weight to any one factor. The key consideration in any case like this is that the playing rules exist for a reason, and all clubs are entitled to expect that the playing rules will be followed by participating teams. Violations that diminish the league’s reputation for integrity and fair play cannot be excused simply because the precise impact on the final score cannot be determined.”