Punishment-gate

By Dylan Siegel

Over the past year, Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the National Football League, has gotten his fair share of criticism for the suspensions his NFL dealt out. Most notable was the extremely lax and disinterested 2 game initial suspension that running back Ray Rice received after beating his wife in a Las Vegas elevator. Domestic violence continued to run rampant in the NFL, as star players like Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy were exposed for their actions. While neither played last year (due to decisions by their respective teams), Hardy raked in 13 million dollars while sitting out, while Peterson is set to make over 15 million next year.

Then, the league went without controversy for a couple of months. Domestic violence and drug claims in the NFL seemed to halt until the playoffs began. And then, out of nowhere, along came Deflategate. Essentially, a Patriots locker room attendant under-inflated 11 of 12 team footballs to attempt to gain an advantage throwing the ball in the rain before the playoff clash with the Colts. New England would go on to dismantle the Colts, although the outcome was hardly affected by underinflation. The Patriots defense gave up only 7 points to Andrew Luck’s vaunted offense, while running back LaGarrette Blount ran all over the Colts for 3 rushing touchdowns. New England went onto win a thrilling Superbowl, and talk of Deflategate seemed to effectively disappear.

Until now. After the release of the Wells Report, the product of an investigation commissioned by the NFL, Brady was suspended by the NFL for 4 games, which may seem like a short amount of time. However, considering the fact that 4 games make up a fourth of the entire regular season, this punishment is much more severe than the others the NFL has handed out recently. Ray Rice was initially given just 2 games for beating his wife. Are we meant to believe that having knowledge of slightly deflated footballs is twice as bad a crime as full on domestic violence? That just shows Roger Goodell placing the game above the people. Goodell also fined the Patriots organization a staggering million dollars (the heftiest fine in NFL history), another ridiculous punishment considering Goodell’s prior fining history. Back in 2012, the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal, in which defensive players were paid to injure opponents, was uncovered. After a lengthy investigation, Goodell fined the Saints 500,000 dollars, just half of what New England was fined. How are we supposed to believe that the deflation of 11 footballs is worse than a system put in place to injure players?

Goodell’s punishments are incredibly inconsistent and imply that he simply doesn’t have his priorities in order. He has been much too lenient on domestic abuse, which has run rampant in the league as a result of his tolerance. Meanwhile, he was much too harsh on Brady, an all-time great and the face of the league, for merely having knowledge of an event. If Goodell cannot get his priorities straight, the NFL will continue to be scrutinized as an organization.

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