Tom Brady's Recurrent Special Treatment From The NFL
There has recently been an abundance of controversy when it comes to the proper punishment for professional athletes in different cases. Ranging from domestic violence to a hit-and-run incident, there have been many off-the-field issues, especially for NFL athletes. However, the commonality in these situations is that they do not impact the integrity of the game. They involve personal issues that still deserve attention and punishment, but do not hurt the hard work and effort of other athletes within the league.
One man, however, has hurt the integrity of the game, with more than one violation of the rules. The famous quarterback for the New England Patriots has been proven to be been involved in blatant violations of NFL regulations. Admittedly, I still think of what could have been for my Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX had the Patriots not been involved in "Spygate." Although some may see this as a bias, objectivity is my goal when viewing this type of situation and the latest infringement upon the rules of the NFL is no different.
The Wells Report, referring to the "Deflate-gate" scandal, again involving the New England Patriots, all but directly says that the team was not within acceptable NFL guidelines when it comes to dealing with footballs and their inflation. The league has explicit rules about the PSI of regulation footballs and how they should be handled, which specifically correlates to the scandal and the Patriots gaining an advantage in the 2015 AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts. Despite this, Tom Brady and the staff within the organization again decided that they were above the NFL law that they agreed to when joining the league. This fact alone hurts the integrity of the game tremendously, as well as disrespecting the majority of the players that train throughout the year and follow the rules.
Considering the multiple occurrences of disregarding the rules of the NFL, an extremely hefty punishment seems to be appropriate, especially for Tom Brady. Despite this, the Patriots were fined $1 million dollars and docked two draft picks, and the starting quarterback was merely suspended for the first four games of the 2015-16 regular season, without pay. Although I am in no way suggesting that the Colts would have won the playoff game had the Patriots not cheated, rules are rules. People want to make excuses such as mentioning the score and that the Colts had no chance. That is not the problem. The issue is that this organization continues to willingly cheat. Additionally, instead of sending a message to the NFL by suspending Brady for a year, which is the punishment he deserves, the league decided to hold him out for four games, which will most likely not even be enough to impact the team's playoff mission.
It also seems close to foolish to think that Bill Belichick, the coach that was at the helm during "Spygate," had no knowledge of this "deflating" process. He has a reputation of being the dominant leader of the team and is always the representative when difficult situations arise. The degree to which he is involved with the team just points to the fact that he likely had some knowledge of the circumstances. The tight-knit relationship between coach and quarterback, commonly mentioned by the media, indicates that it would be strange for Belichick not to know how his quarterback handles footballs pre-game. On the other hand, this is just a common sense approach from an avid football fan, right? The NFL does not seem to handle common sense too well.
Whether it is in a preseason game or in the Super Bowl, cheating should not be tolerated. Suspending one of the faces of the league for an entire season would have shown the fans and the players that the league genuinely values the integrity of the game. With the punishment Goodell announced, the higher-ups in the NFL seem to care more about the cheating quarterback than the majority of players that truly value the honor of football.