The appeal that Tom Brady made to the NFL after his deflate-gate suspension has been made public. The entire 172 page transcript is available online, and a lot of it is not easily understood, but it can be boiled down to a few main points.
The first is that the balls used in the AFC Championship game last year would have naturally deflated because of moving from hot to cold temperatures. This would have happened pretty quickly once the balls were brought out on the field. There is reason to believe that the balls that the Patriots used were treated differently in some way than the balls that the Colts used. Brady may or may not have had something to do with this, but there is evidence that he had knowledge of this, which casts him in a shadow of guilt.
One argument made during the appeal was that there is no direct policy that commands the NFL to punish a player for knowledge of another’s wrongdoing. The example of steroids is given within the appeal, and it is readily admitted that if one player has knowledge that another is doing steroids, there is nothing that compels the clean player to implicate the dirty one. That is, unless the NFL’s rules change. One conclusion that can be implied from the ruling is that their decision was a way to form a precedent so that if a player does have knowledge of a wrongdoing in the future that they too will be held accountable unless that do something about it. Unfortunately for Tom Brady, he had to be the victim here for the NFL to get to this point. It’s very easy to see why many believe that this isn’t a fair ruling.
The second point that came of the appeal is the fact that although there is circumstantial evidence that Brady has knowledge, and/or an influence in events, there’s no strong proof. There are things done that implied guilt, such as the broken cell phone, but these are not things that would hold up in a court of law. They would certainly cast doubt, but doubt isn’t the same as guilt. The NFL is not a court of law, it is an employer in this case, but how this will be handled into the future is shaky because now things are going to court. What happens from here forward is unknown territory.
If you were thinking of drafting Brady for your fantasy football team, you may want to rethink it. He will be taking his case to court to try to overrule the NFL’s decision, but as of now, his suspension is still being upheld. But do remember that Brady is the type of player that will be in top form as soon as he returns, even if he does miss all four games of his suspension. He is a disciplined player, has shown intensity in summer training camp, and is experienced enough to know what he needs to do to succeed and to bring his team along with him. Four games is enough to damage a season, but Brady will not let that influence the 12 games that he still will have.
Finally, be prepared to see the NFL crackdown on athletes harder in the future. A high profile case like this one was perfect for turning heads and creating a way to increase accountability. If they wanted a precedent for punishing players more strictly, they’ve set the bar now. If it stays there, more and more players will be seeing similar suspensions. It might be a way for the NFL to better its reputation, or it may be inadvertent. Either way, do not expect Brady and deflate-gate to be the last we hear of suspensions.