No organization in the world is free from criticism and controversy, and the NFL deals with its fair share on almost a daily basis. The commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, has been nick-named "The Punisher" by fans and players alike. During his time as the face of the NFL, he has handed down more punishments for player behavior than any commissioner before him.
Goodell has always believed that his primary task is to protect the integrity of the game, and he has always kept this in mind when making a ruling. Now, Goodell must again address a team that is no stranger to controversy; the New England Patriots. According to the NY Daily News, Tom Brady will be suspended for his role in "Deflate-Gate" next week. Before we hear the cries of the New England fan base over this, they must understand that Goodell is operating with the intent to protect the integrity of the game.
On Wednesday, the Wells Report was released following it's investigation into the Patriots' equipment team and Tom Brady for deflating footballs in last year' AFC Championship against the Indianapolis Colts. Here's an excerpt from the the investigation:
For the reasons described in this Report, and after a comprehensive investigation, we have concluded that, in connection with the AFC Championship Game, it is more probable than not that New England Patriots personnel participated in violations of the Playing Rules and were involved in a deliberate effort to circumvent the rules. In particular, we have concluded that it is more probable than not that Jim McNally (the Officials Locker Room attendant for the Patriots) and John Jastremski (an equipment assistant for the Patriots) participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls after the balls were examined by the referee. Based on the evidence, it also is our view that it is more probable than not that Tom Brady (the quarterback for the Patriots) was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls.
We do not believe that the evidence establishes that any other Patriots personnel participated in or had knowledge of the violation of the Playing Rules or the deliberate effort to circumvent the rules described in this Report. In particular, we do not believe there was any wrongdoing or knowledge of wrongdoing by Patriots ownership, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick or any other Patriots coach in the matters investigated. We also do not believe there was any wrongdoing or knowledge of wrongdoing by Patriots Head Equipment Manager Dave Schoenfeld.
The term cheating is defined as to act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage. Whether or not it is believed that deflating a football creates an advantage, it is certainly interpreted as a violation of Rule 2 in the Official NFL Guidelines. It has been determined that the quarterback was aware of the deflation and for that he has acted with behavior that is detrimental to the league. When looking at the history of the Roger Goodell era, that is the one caveat that will certainly get you punished in the NFL.
The report made two conclusions very clear, not only did Brady break the rules but he also stood in the way of the investigation by refusing to hand over text messaging conversations that pinpointed him. That in itself is the evidence that Goodell will circle in his ruling.
It also doesn't look good that the Patriots denied Teddy Wells a second interview with Jim McNally. It's the old adage that if you have nothing to hide, then air it out. No pun intended. It's silly to think that the Patriots are only successful because of the "Tuck Rule", "Spy-Gate", and now "Deflate-Gate". However, the latter two separate instances are not to be discarded as if they don't have some lasting effects.
This scandal has been met with all types of opinions such as Star Magazine's Josh Ellis, who stated this is a non-issue and doesn't warrant a punishment due to the 45-7 thumping that New England gave the Colts in that game. Yet, there are others such as Terry Bradshaw and Troy Aikman who believe that Brady should be punished with the same measures the New Orleans Saints dealt with following Bounty-Gate.
Despite the close relationship Goodell maintains with Robert Kraft, owner of the Patriots, it cannot stand in the way of the justice code of the National Football League. If protecting the shield and the integrity of the game are the monikers that Roger Goodell wants to be associated with his tenure; this suspension is imperative.
Sure, suspending Tom Brady will not go over well with ratings or his fans, but a slap on the wrist would in-turn be a slap in the face of the other 31 clubs. Humans naturally will try and create whatever edge they can, it's competitive nature. Tom Brady is a great player and competitor, but the evidence in this case will forever leave an asterisk next to his accomplishments.