Patriots Get Their Way Again

Randy Ollie, Sports Editor

With less than a week left before the NFL season begins, the New England Patriots can finally sleep easy knowing their future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady has been of­ficially reinstated. U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman nullified the quar­terback’s four-game sus­pension Thursday for the Deflategate controversy, which was met with a col­lective groan of frustration from the NFL community.

While I, along with many other NFL fans, have become accustomed to the fact that every Patri­ots season is imbued with some kind of controversy, part of me wonders when, if at all, the league will fi­nally take definitive action to ensure that rule break­ers face the consequences they deserve.

Putting aside my dislike of the Patriots and their track record of cheating, it is noteworthy that the case against Tom Brady was far from concrete. The NFL spent over $3 million dol­lars in its investigation of Deflategate, which seems like a bad joke when you compare it to the measly punishment that they gave the Patriots: a $1 million fine and the loss of two draft picks.

Considering that the league failed to produce a key witness or produce any significant proof that Tom Brady was directly involved in the ball de­flating, the federal court’s decision was not surpris­ing in the least. A multi-million dollar investi­gation that revealed no tangible evidence for the simple crime of deflat­ing footballs sounds like the start of a bad pun. With no omission of guilt from Brady or any of the ball boys involved and no proof from his cell phone (which he destroyed prior to his NFL in­terview along with over 10,000 text messages), the league’s sub­sequent appeal of the federal court’s decision looks to be yet another example of its judicial incompetence.

This is the real problem with the whole situation. For all the money and resources that the NFL possesses, it consistently fails to hold players and organi­zations responsible for their ac­tions. In and of itself Deflategate is no big deal, as the Colts lost the AFC Championship game decisively to the tune of 45-7. In fact, as Colts tight end Dwayne Allen put it, “They could have played with soap for balls and beat us.” Bountygate, the Ray Rice incident and now Deflat­egate all represent a disappoint­ing illustration of how the NFL regularly fails to follow through on its judicial action.

It undoubtedly was NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s intention to make an example out of Brady; had he not been re­instated, he would have lost up to $2 million in salary. So if any­thing, Brady had, and may still have, the most to lose from this situation. While I don’t entirely agree with holding Brady more accountable than the Patriots as a whole, the league’s contem­porary culture of minimal ac­countability is worrisome to say the least. If the NFL can’t hold a player responsible for simply deflating a football, what can it do?

Moving forward, we can only hope for an NFL season without controversy. This, as impractical as it sounds, may be the best-case scenario for the league, teams and fans alike. I will definitely have a watchful eye on the Patriots and Tom Brady this season, not to mention on the footballs they are using at home games.