Well, this is another fine mess Roger Goodell finds himself in.
At some point, after having a long weekend in which to digest the Ted Wells investigation into whether Tom Brady and the New England Patriots cheated by deliberately underinflating footballs, the NFL commissioner will hand down punishment on perhaps the league’s most golden of golden boys. It won’t be easy. If he thinks New York Jets fans love to boo him, wait until he hears the reception he gets in New England on opening night of the NFL season.
That’s because the expectation and early reports indicate that Brady will be suspended for being “generally aware” that equipment personnel deflated footballs before the AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Predictions on the range and scope of the punishment very widely. The Patriots, according to CSNNE.com’s Mike Giardi, are bracing for a lengthy suspension, something in the range of six-to-eight games because Brady also refused to turn over texts and emails to Wells’ investigators. The Miami Herald reported that Brady could be suspended for the entire season. So, while predictions are all over the map, this much is certain: “It is no longer a matter of if the NFL commissioner will suspend Brady,” Gary Myers of the New York Daily News reports, “but for how long he will suspend him.”
Something in the vicinity of two-to-possibly-four games seems logical, with Brady appealing a four-game suspension down to two games. Peter King of MMQBSI.com is thinking along those lines.
I feel strongly that a suspension for Brady is coming this week, because of the time and energy and “more probable than not” evidence in the Wells report. But I keep coming back to the fact that there’s just too much gray area here, and too much doubt. I’d slap the Patriots with something, but not a potential season-altering suspension for the franchise quarterback.
My call: I’d give Brady one game, two tops, for failing to turn over his cell phone and the evidence within. This is too important to rely on half-truths and maybes. Goodell, who I believe will come down harshly, can’t listen to the noise. He has to listen to the truth, and the proof.
Myers sides with King.
Estimates have been all over the map. My feeling is he will wind up with two games, whether that is the initial discipline handed out or whether he is hit with four and ends up with two after an appeal.
But until Goodell announces his decision, anything is possible.
Whatever Goodell and Troy Vincent, with whom he’s conferring, are thinking, they’re keeping it to themselves. No leaks here.
“There have been zero negotiations between the sides to resolve this matter,” BostonHerald.com’s Jeff Howe writes, “and the NFL is not dealing with the Patriots or Brady in any sort of way, according to the sources familiar with the situation.”