The controversy surrounding the 2014 AFC championship game looks to be over after eighteen months of investigations and court dates.
Of course, it’s going to be years before football fans soften in their attitudes towards the New England Patriots on social media but Tom Brady has accepted the punishment handed out to him by the NFL and decided to finally stop fighting.
Brady will miss the first four games of the 2016 season due to the suspension, in addition to the first round draft pick the Patriots went without this spring.
Tom Brady should be INSULTED Belichick found it necessary to tell media Brady will be starter when he returns. As if there’s doubt?! Please.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) July 27, 2016
When the Pats beat the Indy Colts in January 2015 to win the AFC and get them to Super Bowl XLIX, 12 footballs used in the game were looked at and 11 were found to be underinflated by a significant amount.
This prompted an investigation led by Commissioner Goodell into the Patriots that resulted in a four game suspension being levelled at Brady for the 2015 season.
He got that suspension overturned and played all of New England’s games last year, however the suspension has been reinstated and Brady has decided to pursue his last option of appealing to the US Supreme Court.
Sally Jenkins on Goodell: “His long-term legacy is as the worst commissioner in the history of the league.”https://t.co/xWtGqDlpBN
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) July 20, 2016
Brady’s has always been very vocal about his objections to these punishments against him.
The Pats won that game 45-7 and, while it seems unlikely that it was down to deflated balls, even if it was then a whole team and a whole franchise won that game and won the Super Bowl it got them to.
And yet besides the loss of a draft pick the only punishment has been levelled against the quarterback.
The NFL are trying to make an example of one the sport’s greats as a warning to anyone else who would consider breaking the rules and it isn’t right.
People are much easier to make a point against than an organisation and Brady was much easier to pick a fight with than the Patriots.
Fining the franchise can sometimes seem a weak response and I believe that’s what the NFL wanted to avoid, but Brady, depending on your point of view, personifies either the impressive team that dominates the AFC every season or the franchise that has regularly been accused of poor sportsmanship and cheating.
An investigation centred on Brady when it should not have been legitimises the venomous and at least partially unsolicited hatred many football fans show towards him.
In a world where FIFA is engulfed in scandal and the FIA is criticised on a weekly basis, where the NCAA is questioned over its treatment of teenage athletes, the NFL should be better.
Do not punish one of the best quarterbacks in the league just to show that you can, just to prove you are bigger than the players.
It makes the league look like a bully that caters to the whims of its fans and it is not the way to convince franchises to support you in the future.