Why is Tom Brady not being punished effectively?
Pete Rose received a lifetime ban from baseball for lying about betting on his team to win. On the field, his conduct was within the rules. Ray Rice was discharged from the Baltimore Ravens after public outcry over an incident he readily admitted to and was in the process of anger management and relationship counseling with the woman in question, even though he did nothing wrong on the field. He may get picked up in free agency, but chances are his career is over. Alex Rodriguez was banned an entire season for violating the MLB substance abuse policy then lying about it. At least he was punished for conduct that directly affects the game.
Then there is Tom Brady. He has to serve a mere four-game suspension at the beginning of this season for actions that may have affected the outcome of several key games two years ago, including the playoffs. He was also voted Super Bowl MVP that year. The suspension will be served against three teams that may not even be playoff contenders this year, with only the Arizona Cardinals being a real threat, and the Miami Dolphins being the only divisional rival during this period. The first time the suspension was challenged in court, a judge threw it out, not because the facts didn’t point to Brady cheating, but rather that Commissioner Roger Goodell handled the investigation badly. Whatever that means.
A court of law decided that Tom Brady willfully violated the rules of the NFL and convinced team members to join a conspiracy to cover it up. Never mind the fact that Brady committed perjury and encouraged others to do the same but no criminal charges were filed. Why is the NFL only handing him a mere four-game suspension? The Patriots, for their part, will not get a first round pick in 2016 (and they don’t really need one), and a fourth round pick in 2017, as well as loss of $1,000,000. But considering the rabid defense of Brady by the fan base, I think they will be able to make that up fairly easily at the expense of said fans. So what real penalty is there?
Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the first Major League Baseball commissioner, was appointed after eight players on the Chicago White Sox were accused of losing on purpose in the 1919 World Series. He demanded the position be for life, reasoning that if he had to fear for his job the team owners could influence his rulings. The owners reluctantly agreed. After finding there had been cheating by eight players, he banned them for life and denied every request for reinstatement. His tenure as Baseball Commissioner is marked by firm and unwavering rulings no matter how mad the owners or players got.
Roger Goodell does not have that strength of character when it matters. Why is Tom Brady getting a slap on the wrist that will not affect his career or the team’s chances to return to the playoffs? Why is he not being stripped of his MVP award for the year he cheated? Why are damages not being paid to the Indianapolis Colts? It seems as if Goodell is just trying to appear to do something to address the rule breaking but only in word. He gets a tremendous salary from the NFL and probably doesn’t want to tarnish the brand that makes him so much coin. The NFL has gotten a lot of criticism over its lack of action disciplining players who do wrong. Other players have gotten stronger penalties for much less, but other players do not make the same revenue for the NFL Licensing department as Tom Brady. Unless Roger Goodell starts addressing infractions of the rules and illegal actions by players seriously, the NFL’s credibility will continue to erode. It is time the NFL to appoint an outside person, one who cares more about the rules than making the NFL bigwigs more money.