As the New England Patriots and NFL throw feces back and forth at each other, the latest being a 20,000 word rebuttal of the The Wells Report by the Patriots, the NFL’s trying to levy punishments that clearly should be meant for teams that employ the worst of the worst players or tactics to win. Granted the New England Patriots are the only team in the NFL to have a murderer play a full season for them after having allegedly killed two people in a drive by shooting the summer prior. Yes Aaron Hernandez was a Patriots and yes Aaron Hernandez is now a convicted murderer who still has two more trials to go. However be that as it may, the Patriots and this deflation situation appears to be a smoke screen so that everyone’s eyes are averted from the real problem facing the league today. The issues are many but the main ones are domestic violence, head trauma, drug abuse, and performance enhancing drugs. Sorry Harry Reid I’m uninterested in the Redskins team name.
The biggest issue for the NFL isn’t so much the deflating of the balls that the Patriots used in the first half of their AFC Championship route of the Indianapolis Colts, but rather the lengths they went to in order to cover up the mess. The Patriots in trying to be sly, disallowed the ball attendant to be interviewed by investigators and did not allow him to be made aware of their wanting to speak with him. Ted Wells and his team of investigators discovered text messages that clearly and directly implicated how Brady liked his game balls in addition to having film of the ball attendant going into the bathroom with the game balls before the start of the game.
The Patriots were handed down the stiffest penalty ever given to a team for “Conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the game of professional football”. Those sanctions included a four game suspension for Tom Brady as well as a forfeiture of a first round pick in 2016 and a fourth round pick in 2017 as well as a one million dollar fine. The Saints were found guilty of “BountyGate” with much more evidence against them and they were given just a first round pick as well as a one year suspension for Sean Payton. “BountyGate” was about injuring players, specifically Brett Favre in the NFC Championship game when people with such high morals as Darren Sharper were head hunting trying to cause trauma.
The Patriots are the sports’ model franchise in terms of winning, they’ve won four Super Bowls and six conference championships since Bill Belichick and Tom Brady met up in 2000. Bill Belichick has the highest winning percentage since he took over as coach, and Tom Brady has the most playoff wins of any quarterback in the history of the league and he’s far from done. The NFL’s trying to make up for their blatant disregard for human decency with this punishment. Yes Tom Brady is known as the golden boy and America hates him because he wins and has a supermodel wife. Bill Belichick is seen as a villain who cheated his way to success, but in the end it’s not just Tom Brady and Bill Belichick that have the Patriots where they are. The Patriots are mostly where they are because they have a formula of success. That formula is the belief that a guy in the seventh round can be just as valuable as the first overall pick if deployed in the right way.
The obvious past dealings by the NFL with Ted Wells in terms of Richie Incognito and the concussion settlement don’t make him the most objective face to put in front of the investigation. Yes of course the Patriots played with deflated footballs, and they’ve probably been doing it for years because Tom Brady likes the way they feel and they’re easier to catch for his receivers. The Patriots were not losing to the Colts in that game, it was never going to happen. The Seahawks needed a miraculous catch by Brett Lockett to even make the Super Bowl dramatic and the Patriots played by far the toughest schedule of any team last year. They were the best team in 2014.
The Ray Rice situation, the Ray McDonald situation, the Greg Hardy situation, and the decades of blind eyes turned by the league pertaining to off the field issues is no reason to punish a team for a minor violation. Yes the Patriots did circumvent the rules, but if you wanted to really go after them, why didn’t you look into why Aaron Hernandez was allowed to play a full season after allegedly shooting two people at a stop light in downtown Boston.
The NFL appears to want to distract us from the real issues of the sport, and luckily the people of our congress have acted accordingly in bringing those topics up on the floor in Washington. Brady’s suspension will be reduced and the billionaire owner will fight to keep his legacy in tact because he has nothing better to do then to protect his brand and sell we shall overcome merchandise to his fan base. Next year the Patriots will open with a glitz and glamour first game and networks will be disappointed because their bottom line is hurt. However come Christmas the Patriots will be a division champion and on their way to another bye with a home game because this will be the season the Patriots really feel like it’s them against the world, which is what they feed off of every year.
The person replacing Tom Brady for the first month of the season will be Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garopolo, the quarterback he’ll be opposing in that spotlight game is another player who was accused of sexual assault on a 20-year old and that wasn’t the only time he was accused of similar wrongdoing. His punishment was a six game suspension eventually lowered to two.