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.
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.
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:
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.