Is tampering with a football a worse infraction than knocking a woman unconscious? The National Football League's punishment of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for his alleged role in Deflategate was harsher than the NFL's response to a scandal that rocked the league last year. Brady will be suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2015-16 season -- a suspension twice as long as that initially given to Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, who beat his then-fiancée.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Rice for two games for his May 2014 assault of then-girlfriend and current wife Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino elevator. After surveillance video footage was leaked that showed Rice delivering a knockout blow to Palmer, the Ravens terminated Rice's contract and Goodell upped the punishment to an indefinite suspension. Rice appealed the decision and an independent arbitrator ruled Dec. 1 the Ravens running back should be reinstated. He has not been picked up by another team.
Within minutes of the NFL's announcement Monday, sports columnists, celebrities and fans registered outrage via Twitter about the inconsistent severity of Brady's punishment. Some suggested the American sports league is sending yet another tone-deaf message on the issue of domestic battery and violence against women. Others said the harsher punishment for Brady was grounds for the league MVP to file an appeal.
Tom Brady gets 4 game suspension for allegedly deflating footballs. Ray Rice only got 2 for battering a woman? Solid work NFL. #FreeBrady
— Charles Thorp (@charlesthorp) May 11, 2015
So the NFL had a video of Ray Rice incident and he got 2 games...Tom Brady was "more probably than not" deflating and gets 4?
— Joel Klatt (@joelklatt) May 11, 2015
I'm all for Tom Brady appealing. Ray Rice's suspension went from 2 games to an entire season last year.
— Shane Marshall (@MarshallLaw28) May 11, 2015
They had no definitive proof against Tom Brady or #patriots. If Hillary doesn't have to produce Emails, why should Tom? Very unfair!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 11, 2015
In addition to Brady's suspension, the NFL fined the Patriots $1 million. They will also lose their 2016 first-round pick and their 4th round pick in 2017. The NFL's punishment comes after a 243-page report by league-appointed attorney Ted Wells stated Brady was most likely aware the footballs were below the NFL-mandated minimum of 12.5 pounds per square inch.
During an interview last Thursday, Brady was asked about allegations that team personnel knowingly deflated footballs before the Patriots' AFC championship win against the Indianapolis Colts in January. The quarterback said he had not reviewed the Wells report and would likely give a reaction after he reads it.