Let Tom Brady Play
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Let Tom Brady Play

Why the suspension was too harsh (and I'm a Colts fan).

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Let Tom Brady Play

A federal court overturned NFL quarterback Tom Brady's four-game suspension on Thursday after a drawn-out legal battle. Brady was suspended for his alleged involvement in "Deflategate", a controversy in which his New England Patriots were accused of intentionally deflating footballs below the minimum allowed air pressure to make them easier to grip, throw, and catch in cold weather.

It all began this past January in the AFC Championship Game in Foxborough, Massachusetts (the home of the Patriots). New England trounced Indianapolis 45-7 to clinch their sixth Super Bowl appearance in 14 years. During the first half, Indianapolis Colts linebacker, D'Qwell Jackson, intercepted a pass thrown by Tom Brady. On the sideline, he handed the ball to an equipment manager and asked him to keep it safe because he wanted to keep it as a souvenir. That equipment manager checked the air pressure of the ball and reportedly found that it was below 12.5 psi, which is the minimum level for game balls in the NFL.

The Colts reported to the referees during halftime that the ball was underinflated. The officiating team inspected the twelve Patriots game balls, and there have been mixed reports on what they found. One report stated that all twelve balls were deflated. Another said that only the intercepted ball was two psi below the minimum, and the other 11 were "a few ticks below" 12.5 psi.

In May, the NFL published the Wells Report, a 243-page investigation into the incident. While they found that a Patriots locker room attendant and an equipment assistant were probably intentionally deflating the footballs, there was little real evidence of Brady's involvement. One of the strongest claims the NFL made against him was that he deliberately destroyed his cell phone before the investigation could proceed in an attempt to mask wrongdoing. NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, subsequently suspended Tom Brady without pay for the first four games of the 2015-2016 season.

With the backing of the NFLPA (the NFL players' union), Brady immediately appealed his suspension to a U.S. District Court. Judge Richard M. Berman threw out Brady's suspension, citing the lack of a fair due process system. Questions arose concerning the NFL's handling of the investigation. Brady claimed that he didn't know the investigators wanted to search his cell phone and that he was simply replacing a broken phone with a new one. When the dust settled, the NFL just couldn't prove Brady's involvement. Even if he knew what was happening, there wasn't any precedent to punish him so severely for simply knowing about something.

Look, I'm a Colts fan and I think the suspension went way too far. First, the NFL managed to botch the investigation at several different points. Not only did the AFC Championship Game officials fail to record the air pressure in the Patriots' footballs, but the league didn't communicate to Brady that his phone would be part of the investigation. Second, in the grand scheme of football, it probably didn't matter. The Colts lost by 38 points. I don't think any football player would refute the fact that deflating a football couldn't possibly give a team enough of an advantage to blow out an opponent that would have otherwise beaten them. Yes, the Patriots organization should be disciplined. But, there's very little evidence that Brady was involved enough to warrant a four-game suspension.

In the future, the NFL should implement stricter ball inflation policies and make sure the game officials check and record the air pressure of the game balls before kickoff and during halftime. The whole "Deflategate" investigation was simply a witch hunt targeted at the leader of the NFL's most perennially dominant teams. As fans of the game, let's leave this behind us and push the league to make sure it can't happen again.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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