Tom Brady suspended, Pats fined for ‘DeflateGate’

FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2015, file photo, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady looks to pass during the first half of the NFL football AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts in Foxborough, Mass. An NFL investigation has found that New England Patriots employees likely deflated footballs and that quarterback Tom Brady was "at least generally aware" of the rules violations. The 243-page report released Wednesday, May 6, 2015, said league investigators found no evidence that coach Bill Belichick and team management knew of the practice. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The NFL handed reigning Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady a four game suspension for the scandal known as “DeflateGate.”

In addition to Brady’s suspension for the first four games of the 2015-2016 NFL season, a $1 million fine was issued to the New England Patriots. The team will also lose a first round draft pick in 2016 and a fourth round pick in 2017.

The investigation into the Patroits began during the 2015 AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts. Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson intercepted a Brady pass. The team reported to the NFL that the ball seemed under-deflated.

The New England game balls were switched out for the second half by NFL officials. The Patriots would later defeated the Colts 45-7 and went on to win the Super Bowl over the Seattle Seahawks.

“Your actions… clearly constitute conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the game of professional football”

The NFL’s official investigation found that Brady “was at least generally aware” of plans by two team employees to prepare the game balls below the league-mandated minimum of 12.5 pounds per square inch.

Brady maintained he was not involved with under-inflated the footballs. Brady’s agent said the NFL’s report on what happened was “a significant and terrible disappointment.”

In additional to the suspension, fine, and loss of draft picks, the two team employees alleged to be involved were also suspended indefinitely by the NFL.

Brady’s first game back will be a week six showdown in Indianapolis on October 18, 2015.

NFL Executive President Troy Vincent wrote a letter to Brady outlining the league’s findings. He said:

“With respect to your particular involvement, the report established that there is substantial and credible evidence to conclude you were at least generally aware of the actions of the Patriots’ employees involved in the deflation of the footballs and that it was unlikely that their actions were done without your knowledge. Moreover, the report documents your failure to cooperate fully and candidly with the investigation, including by refusing to produce any relevant electronic evidence (emails, texts, etc.), despite being offered extraordinary safeguards by the investigators to protect unrelated personal information, and by providing testimony that the report concludes was not plausible and contradicted by other evidence.”Your actions as set forth in the report clearly constitute conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the game of professional football. The integrity of the game is of paramount importance to everyone in our league, and requires unshakable commitment to fairness and compliance with the playing rules. Each player, no matter how accomplished and otherwise respected, has an obligation to comply with the rules and must be held accountable for his actions when those rules are violated and the public’s confidence in the game is called into question.”

 

Brady’s agent, Don Yee issued a statement regarding the NFL’s punishment Monday evening. He said:

“The discipline is ridiculous and has no legitimate basis. In my opinion, this outcome was pre-determined; there was no fairness in the Wells investigation whatsoever. There is no evidence that Tom directed footballs be set at pressures below the allowable limits. In fact, the evidence shows Tom clearly emphasized that footballs be set at pressures within the rules. Tom also cooperated with the investigation and answered every question presented to him.

“The Wells Report presents significant evidence, however, that the NFL lacks standards or protocols with respect to its handling of footballs prior to games; this is not the fault of Tom or the Patriots. The report also presents significant evidence the NFL participated with the Colts in some type of pre-AFC Championship Game planning regarding the footballs. This fact may raise serious questions about the integrity of the games we view on Sundays.

“We will appeal, and if the hearing officer is completely independent and neutral, I am very confident the Wells Report will be exposed as an incredibly frail exercise in fact-finding and logic. The NFL has a well-documented history of making poor disciplinary decisions that often are overturned when truly independent and neutral judges or arbitrators preside, and a former federal judge has found the commissioner has abused his discretion in the past, so this outcome does not surprise me. Sadly, today’s decision diminishes the NFL as it tells its fans, players and coaches that the games on the field don’t count as much as the games played on Park Avenue.”

Indianapolis Colts player Matt Overton reacted to the news

Other NFL players offered their reactions on Twitter.

— Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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