The NFL announced that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been suspended for four games for his involvement in the DeflateGate scandal, as Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports tweets. The Patriots have also been stripped of their first-round pick in 2016 and fined $1MM, Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald (on Twitter) adds. The Pats will also lose the fourth-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
Jason Wilde of ESPN.com (on Twitter) passes along the full statement. It reads, in part:
The New England Patriots were notified today of the following discipline that has been imposed for violations of the NFL Policy on Integrity of the Game and Enforcement of Competitive Rules relating to the use of under-inflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game of this past season:
For the violation of the playing rules and the failure to cooperate in the subsequent investigation, the New England Patriots are fined $1 million and will forfeit the club’s first-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft and the club’s fourth-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. If the Patriots have more than one selection in either of these rounds, the earlier selection shall be forfeited. The club may not trade or otherwise encumber these selections.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft advised Commissioner Roger Goodell last week that Patriots employees John Jastremski and James McNally have been indefinitely suspended without pay by the club, effective on May 6th. Neither of these individuals may be reinstated without the prior approval of NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent. If they are reinstated by the Patriots, Jastremski is prohibited from having any role in the preparation, supervision, or handling of footballs to be used in NFL games during the 2015 season. McNally is barred from serving as a locker room attendant for the game officials, or having any involvement with the preparation, supervision, or handling of footballs or any other equipment on game day.
Quarterback Tom Brady will be suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2015 regular season for conduct detrimental to the integrity of the NFL. Brady may participate in all off-season, training camp and pre-season activities, including pre-season games.
Commissioner Goodell authorized the discipline that was imposed by NFL Executive President Troy Vincent, pursuant to the commissioner’s disciplinary authority under the NFL Constitution and Bylaws and the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFL Players Association.
“We reached these decisions after extensive discussion with Troy Vincent and many others,” Commissioner Goodell said. “We relied on the critical importance of protecting the integrity of the game and the thoroughness and independence of the Wells report.”
The letter also notes that there was no evidence found to prove that head coach Bill Belichick or any Patriots’ staff member besides Jastremski and McNally took part in the deflating of footballs. One has to imagine that the Patriots will be quick to cite that as they dispute the penalties levied against them.
The NFL also made Vincent’s letter to Brady available to reporters (including Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe on Twitter) and his words are rather scathing. He reprimands Brady for his failure to cooperate in full with the NFL’s investigation and calls his conduct “detrimental to the integrity” of the game. Vincent adds that “While [the evidence] cannot be certain when the activity began, evidence suggests that 1/18 was not the first and only occasion.” The league’s Executive Vice President of Football Operations also referred back to the SpyGate scandal to illustrate that the organization has a history of misconduct.
The suspension of Brady ostensibly leaves backup Jimmy Garoppolo as the team’s starter for the first month of the season. The 23-year-old (24 in November) completed 19 of 27 passes in his rookie season.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.