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HomeNewsSportsNFL: Tom Brady Suspended For First Four Games Of Season Without Pay

NFL: Tom Brady Suspended For First Four Games Of Season Without Pay

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Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady answers questions during a press conference on so-called Deflate-Gate on January 22, 2015. (Photo: AP)

The NFL confirmed Tom Brady, the Super Bowl MVP, was suspended for the first four games of the season, the New England Patriots have been fined $1 million and their two draft picks have been taken away as punishment for deflating footballs used in the AFC title game. The fine matches the largest the NFL has ever handed out, which was to Ed DeBartolo Jr., the San Francisco 49ers’ owner who pleaded guilty to a felony in his role in a Louisiana gambling scandal in 1999.

The league said they have also suspended the two equipment staffers believed to have carried out the plan indefinitely, including the man who called himself “The Deflator” in recently released correspondences.

A league-backed investigation by attorney Ted Wells into “DeflateGate” released findings that stated Brady “was at least generally aware” of plans by two Patriots employees to deflate the footballs below the league-mandated minimum of 12.5 pounds per square inch.

“It is unlikely that an equipment assistant and a locker room attendant would deflate game balls without Brady’s knowledge and approval,” the 243-page report report said.

While it is true the Wells report did not conclusively tie the four-time Super Bowl champion to the illegal activity, text messages between the equipment staffers indicated that Brady knew about the tampering. Investigators claimed Brady’s explanation for the messages was implausible, and big name former players at the onset of the story went on the record as stating it was beyond imagination that he had no knowledge of the ball tampering.

Regardless, the Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 and went on to defeat the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl. Ironically, Brady’s performance was even more impressive during the quarters the non-deflated balls were used.

The suspension means Brady will miss the season’s showcase kickoff game on Sept. 10 against Pittsburgh, Week 2 at Buffalo, a home game against Jacksonville and a game at Dallas. His first game will be when the Patriots face the Colts in Indianapolis.

Further, the Patriots lose next year’s first-round pick and a fourth-round choice in 2017, but the punishment represents the second time in eight years the Patriots have been hit for violating league rules. In 2007, the team was fined $500,000 and docked a first-round draft pick, and coach Bill Belichick was fined $250,000 for videotaping opposing coaches as a way to decipher their play signals.

Don Yee, Brady’s agent, said the report omitted key facts and was “a significant and terrible disappointment.”

The NFL allows each team to provide the footballs used by its offense — a procedure Brady played a role in creating — but it requires them to be inflated in that range of 12.5-13.5 pounds per square inch. Footballs with less pressure can be easier to grip and catch, and Brady has expressed a preference for the lower end of the range.

Brady said last week that the scandal hasn’t taken away from the team’s 28-24 Super Bowl win over Seattle — its fourth NFL title since the 2001 season.

“Absolutely not,” he said at a previously planned appearance in Salem, Massachusetts, last Thursday night. “We earned everything we got and achieved as a team, and I am proud of that and so are our fans.”

Fans chanted “Brady” and “MVP,” then gave him a standing ovation as he entered the arena in the town made famous by the colonial witch trials. Since the airing of the scandal in the hours after the Colts game, New England fans have been unwavering in their support for the team, blaming the investigation on grudges by opponents jealous of the team’s success.

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