As the NFL closes in on a potential reduction in the four-game suspension previously imposed on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, a question looms regarding the possible dichotomy between the outcome for the player and the outcome for the team.
If Commissioner Roger Goodell reduces Brady’s suspension, should the penalties previously imposed on the Patriots also be reduced?
Peter King of TheMMQB.com made the case on Thursday’s edition of The Dan Patrick Show for the team getting a reduction if the player does. While it makes sense on the surface, there’s one past case that it will be important to recall if Brady’s suspension is modified or eliminated: The Saints’ bounty scandal.
As a result of the NFL’s internal appeal procedures, the New Orleans player suspensions were all completely overturned in 2012. That outcome, however, had no impact on the penalties levied against the Saints or on the one-year suspensions imposed on Saints coach Sean Payton and former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
In this case, the Patriots opted not to appeal the $1 million fine or the loss of a first-round pick in 2016 and a fourth-round pick in 2017. As far as the NFL is concerned, those cases are closed.
There’s another reason for reopening the current case against the Patriots. As previously explained, the NFL has an opportunity to gather significant data regarding the behavior of air pressure in footballs before making any final decisions regarding whether the Patriots tampered with the footballs prior to the AFC title game — or whether the measurements reflect the natural operation of the Ideal Gas Law.
With the draft-pick forfeiture not starting until April 2016, why not table any final decisions until after the 2015 season has ended, giving the NFL a chance to compare the Patriots’ 11 footballs from January 18 to a lot more than the four Colts’ footballs that hurriedly were tested that day? By making halftime and postgame air-pressure measurements of every football every in every NFL preseason, regular season, and postseason game, a much more reliable final conclusion could be reached in February, including a possible conclusion that the measurements are inconclusive to determine that tampering occurred.