Should the NFL reduce Tom Brady’s Suspension?


NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will soon make a statement on the appeal of Tom Brady in regards to his four game suspension. The questions is should he reduce it? Many in the media believe that there is not enough substantial evidence regarding the situation to uphold it.

As a Miami Dolphins fan it’s hard to accept a reduction in the penalty handed down earlier by the commissioner but as hard as I try to look beyond my Miami Dolphins bloodline I still can’t come to a reason, a legit reason why that suspension should be reduced to two games or lifted at all. I have accepted the fact that some of the Ted Wells report doesn’t add up and that there really is no proof that Tom Brady had any knowledge of the balls being deflated but I can’t however get past the fact that he should have known, if of course he really didn’t.

Forget PSI tests and weather anomalies but instead focus on two things. One, two people in the teams organization admitted to deflating footballs and both communicated back and forth about Tom Brady supposedly knowing about it. And two, that Tom Brady was the one who threw the footballs.

I can say that the penalties handed down against the Dolphins in “bully-gate” were weak. Mainly because there were no penalties. Richie Incognito was suspended by the team and eventually released and neither Mike Pouncey nor John Jerry. Jim Turner the offensive line coach was fired as was the teams long time trainer. For all the firings, suspensions, and releases the NFL did nothing to the Dolphins and some believe that some form of punishment should have been rendered. In other words the Dolphins got off easy for being stupid and playing dumb.

Looking at the Tom Brady fiasco I try to keep a level head but the two things I mentioned above resonate too much to simply throw aside and say “o.k. he didn’t know”.

The communication between the two employees doesn’t put guilt on Tom Brady but why would they do this on their own? That question more than any other plays over and over in my head. I’ll say it again, why would two people take it upon themselves to deflate footballs without knowing if the quarterback liked them that way. The answer is simple. They wouldn’t have. Someone asked them to take air out of those footballs. Someone contacted them via phone message or in person and said, “hey, Tom likes the balls a little squishier, can you get them deflated for him?”.

The thing is it’s not an easy thing to do. The referees check the footballs so in order to deflate them they needed to do so in a matter of minutes as the balls were taken to the field. They did in fact do just that. Hiding in a bathroom or closet and quickly deflating as many as they could as they walked them to the field. This is not the characteristics of any employee. No one is going to risk their jobs without something to gain. In this case it may have been autographed footballs, shoes, whatever or it may have been a personal vendetta against Brady himself. The latter is plausible of course but unlikely. Especially knowing that the entire ordeal may never come to light.

These two guys deflated footballs for a reason.

Then there is Brady himself who for now is scheduled to serve a four game suspension. The fact that Goodell is ready to rule on this appeal is what makes this pertinent now. My question is if Brady didn’t know that the balls were being deflated, something that was occurring more than just in the playoffs, why didn’t he notice it? If he did why didn’t he tell someone? It’s apparent that the Colts linebacker who intercepted Brady’s pass noticed it. So why didn’t Tom?

Brady has his hands on the ball at all times. His receivers touch the ball, the running backs touch the ball, someone at some time would have realized that some balls felt different than others. Yet no one but the opposition did. It’s likely that the receivers and running backs wouldn’t have noticed. If they play with those balls all the time it would be something common for them and they wouldn’t realize a subtle change in pressure. Brady would have.

The point to all this is this, there is no way that Tom Brady could not have known something was different with the footballs. He had to know they were better for his grip, were not as hard as other footballs. Of all the players to touch the football, Tom Brady would have and should have known.

For me this is the end all. While there is no proof of knowledge there is substantial reason to believe that Tom Brady should have known and thus likely knew about the footballs. If we were to throw all of that out and say that these two players were in fact working completely on their own and that Tom Brady knew nothing then why did Brady refuse to turn over his cell phone to the investigators? Would those text messages expose Tom Brady’s guilt? Was there something else on his phone that Brady was protecting? We won’t know because Brady refused to cooperate in this regard.

Perhaps the reason the Dolphins were not disciplined by the league was due to the full cooperation of the team that included every single text message exchange between Incognito, Pouncey, Jerry, and Martin.

The NFL came down hard on the Patriots for this infraction. Aside from Brady the Patriots themselves were fined $1 million and have had their 2016 1st round pick taken from them. Through all of this I will agree that the punishment for the organization was a little much and I find it much easier to believe that the organization and even Bill Belichick could have had no knowledge of the situation. If the commissioner reduced or eliminated the fine and draft pick forfeiture I would understand that thinking. I can not however accept a reduction of Tom Brady’s suspension.

It’s not my call to make of course and it has no real relevance on the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins don’t play the Patriots during those four games and to be quite honest if the Dolphins are going to win the division in 2015 I would rather a Tom Brady suspension asterisk not be on the title. In 2008 the Dolphins won the division in a tie-breaker over the Brady-less Patriots and Patriot fans to this day will tell you Miami only won because Brady wasn’t there.

That is not however enough reason to see Brady back on the field. Brady is the most high-profiled player to ever be caught in a cheating scandal at this level of the game and the NFL can not simply disregard the assumption of knowledge towards the facts of guilt. This is not a court of law and the NFL doesn’t have to possess hard evidence indemnifying Brady. They only need to have sufficient reason to believe that he is guilty and there is plenty of reasons why Brady would have known. The fact he did not cooperate with the investigation further gives reason to not believe him.

Sometime in the next week, maybe two, Goodell will issue his appeal results and Tom Brady may remain suspended for four games, may be suspended for two, or may not be suspended at all. It doesn’t erase the fact that someone asked two employees to take air out of footballs and it doesn’t erase the fact that every play Tom Brady handled those footballs and said nothing about the air pressure. To anyone. That is reason enough to keep the suspension as is.