The NFL surprised me a little yesterday—but pleasantly— by hitting New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his team with something approaching an appropriately tough penalty for cheating in a playoff game, lying about it, obstructing the NFL’s investigations, and then acting as if the whole mess was a joke. The NFL suspended Brady for four games, stripped the Patriots of their first-round draft pick in 2017 and a fourth-round pick as well, and fined the team $1 million for Brady’s “conduct detrimental to the integrity of the NFL” and for “failure to cooperate in the subsequent investigation.”
Exactly. It wasn’t the infraction alone that made this serious; it was the suggestion, magnified by Brady’s smug attitude, that cheating in an NFL play-off game is no big deal and nothing to be upset or ashamed about. The team also had to be punished, in part because cheating has long been the Patriots’ MO, and the team’s continued success at winning championships, without some negative consequences, is a neon sign advertisement for cheating in games, in school, in business, in life.
Finally, the draft choices were a crucial element, because taking away those really hurt the team. Otherwise it would have been just an affordable fine: Brady doesn’t need the millions he’ll lose by not playing four games, and the Patriots are more than a one-man team; they might still win all four. As for team owner Robert Kraft, he won’t even notice that the million dollars is missing. The draft choices the team will notice. Good.
But there is another injustice here that isn’t getting as much attention as the suspending of New England’s smirking, cheating star. Continue reading