EVERYBODY knew the week before the Super Bowl that the Patriots had cheated in the AFC Championship game against the Colts. The NFL was “investigating it”, but the world already knew that game balls which had been inspected by NFL officials, were tampered with after that inspection. That part was clear, so everyone KNEW there was tampering. Still the Patriots were allowed to play in the Super Bowl. Now, four months after the Super Bowl confetti has been swept up, we find out the price for cheating in a playoff game is one player suspended for four games, plus a first and fourth round draft pick (not even in the same Draft year). It’s a meaningless punishment.
It would have been better if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell just looked into the camera, said “Fuck you” to the fans, then went back to loudly slurping Bob Kraft (the Patriots team owner). It would at least have been more honest. It’s what most of us felt was happening anyway, when the Patriots weren’t disqualified or ordered to play game over at least. So much for teaching kids about sportsmanship Roger! Good job!
The set-up to this joke of a penalty is that it’s being appealed. Not just the 4 game suspension, but the loss of draft picks too. Despite the sweetheart deal Goodell handed these chumps, Tom Brady and Kraft are whining that the punishment is too much. You could impregnate all of China with balls that big!
The punchline to this joke of a penalty is that the NFL needs it to be upheld. Some would argue that reducing meaningless punishments is no big deal, since they started out without merit anyway. Here’s why that’s the wrong way to look at it. Everyone (not wearing a Patriots jersey) can plainly see that these were high crimes in the world of sports, and that some high price had to be paid for it. So it was bad enough that such meaningless punishments were handed down to begin with. However if they get further reduced just because the perpetrators of the crime don’t like the sentence, then it brings into question everything regarding player discipline in the NFL.
Using Performance Enhancing Drugs (Lane Johnson) or blowing herb (Josh Gordon) can get you suspended for four games (or more). Beating your son (Adrian Peterson) can cost you a season. So can a bounty scandal (Sean Payton). Beating your wife (Ray Rice) can get you just about blackballed. Yet all of these things occurred off the field. If the NFL loses the ability to discipline NFL employees for on the field issues, they lose the leverage and moral high-ground for doing so with off the field issues. There are far reaching issues at stake here.
The meaningless punishment (bullshit as it is), has to be upheld now or the whole damned thing starts to come apart on the day those sentences get commuted.