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Brady, Patriots Cheated: Punishment Should Fit Crime

New England Patriots

New England Patriots

I don’t care about Tom Brady’s balls.

But apparently the rest of the world is obsessed with the New England Patriots. So much so that attorney Ted Wells’ investigation into “Deflategate” churned out 243 pages of information about slightly underinflated footballs.

The general thesis appears to be that two team employees, Jim McNally and John Jastremski, doctored footballs and that Tom Brady “was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities.”

It also found that the Patriots and Bill Belichick had nothing to do with it.

Brady broke the rules (and lied about it). They intentionally deflated his footballs. Roger Goodell should and will punish him with appropriate force.

My concern is how the general public — or Goodell, for that matter — defines "appropriate force." The commissioner hasn't exactly been consistent in his punishments (SEE: Sean Payton and Ray Rice).

I said it when the story initially broke in January, and I’ll say it again now. Should we be quick to criticize an organization with a questionable track record when it comes to the rules? Certainly, but did the Patriots defeat the Colts by more than five touchdowns because the balls were slightly softer? Have the Patriots been the best team in the AFC for more than a decade because of slightly less air in their footballs?

No, because it’s ludicrous.

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Did this “scandal” have any impact whatsoever on the outcome of the Super Bowl?

No. Take back the Super Bowl ring? Make him ineligible for the Hall of Fame? Forfeit all 2016 draft picks? 

Just stop, Internet.

For decades, quarterbacks have been scuffing, inflating, deflating, spitting on, greasing up and using every other imaginable trick in the book to get a football exactly how they want it. Sometimes, they go too far. Sometimes, they break the rules.

Sometimes, they get caught and should be punished.

Brady should be punished. Suspend him for a game or two — which would cost him roughly $500,000 per weekend — or fine him or take a late-round pick from the team. Or all three.

But let’s not for one second suggest that pigskin PSI had anything to do with the absolute beat down the Pats administered to the Colts in the AFC Championship game. That with 16-percent more air in their balls, the Patriots wouldn’t have won the AFC East or made it to the Super Bowl.

This is a multi-billion dollar industry that routinely pushes the envelope of sportsmanship across the board. When people break the rules, they get punished. Jumping offside is cheating, and it’s a 5-yard penalty.

Brady deserves to get punished, but it better fit the crime.

After that, I don’t want to hear another word about his balls.