In light of the Wells Report released Wednesday – which found probable cause to implicate the New England Patriots, as well as Tom Brady, in the deflating of footballs for the AFC Championship game against Indianapolis – many NFL fans, including Damon Amendolara, had a similar reaction:
This is just par for the New England course.
Is that unfair?
“No, I don’t think so,” Sports Illustrated senior writer Greg Bedard said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “And I could tell you the general reaction around the league –especially from front-office people and coaching staffs – their reaction to this is most likely, ‘It’s about time.’ They think that the Patriots push the envelope on a lot of things. There was an article in the New York Times a few years ago about when other teams report stuff to the competition committee about things they don’t like or things that they think are out of the spirit of the game, almost all of the complaints were about the Patriots.”
Bedard remembers approaching a coach at the Senior Bowl and asking what he thought of the Deflategate allegations.
“He was like, ‘Look at the team you’re talking about. Of course they did it,’” Bedard recalled. “That’s sort of the perception of the Patriots.”
Not that the Patriots actually care about that or anything.
“Look, they have four rings to prove their greatness,” Bedard said. “I mean, who cares about general perception? The results speak for themselves. The funny thing about all this is both this and Spygate – you’re talking about things that you really didn’t have to do at the end of the day to gain an advantage. The Patriots could have beaten the Colts with rugby balls. Still, this is what they do, and it’s hard for me to say it’s a huge, egregious thing because they have four Super Bowl titles and these aren’t big things that we’re talking about. But they are certainly game-integrity issues, and those should be looked at seriously.”
Shannon Sharpe agrees. In fact, the three-time Super Bowl champion and current NFL analyst believes that Brady and Bill Belichick should be suspended and that the Patriots should lose multiple draft picks.
Some might say that’s a little harsh. What’s a realistic punishment?
“Realistic, I think a substantial fine for the Patriots, even though Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick were exonerated in the report – and I believe that,” Bedard said. “I believe that they didn’t know what was going on. I’m sure the league at the end of the day will say, ‘You should have been on top of this. Game-day operation of the footballs, you guys should have known what was going on and had protocols in place to make sure nothing nefarious happened, and you didn’t do that. So we’re going to knock you for that.’
The big thing and the big question and what everyone’s going to talk about until Roger Goodell and Troy Vincent come down with their punishment is Brady. That’s going to be a very difficult case, but I think at the end of the day, I could see Brady suspended for a game or two.”