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The NFL’s last chance to bury ‘Deflategate’

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady yesterday lodged an official appeal on his four-game suspension that he received for his alleged role in “Deflategate”.

It remains to be seen when the NFL will rule on the appeal, but it looms as one final chance for the organisation to cut their losses and save face.

Let me set the scene for you.

The Patriots were hosting the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL’s AFC Championship game for the right to compete in Super Bowl XLIX on January 15, 2015.

The official rules of the National Football League require footballs to be inflated to a gauge pressure between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch (psi) or 86 to 93 kPa, when measured by the referees.

Underinflating a football can make it easier to grip, throw, and catch.

Suspicions arose that the Patriots were using under-inflated footballs, and as such, league officials inspected the game balls at halftime.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

It was initially reported that eleven of the twelve balls used by the Patriots were measured to be two pounds per square inch below the minimum, but later reports cited only a single ball two pounds per square inch below the minimum.

Conflicting reports arose over what footballs were used in the second half. It is unknown whether a backup set of footballs were used in the second half, or the original 12 footballs were re-inflated at halftime.

It is however, completely irrelevant, as no issues were raised on the pressure of the footballs used in the second half.

So, the Patriots allegedly deflated balls to give themselves a better chance at winning.

At halftime, having used the ‘deflated’ balls in the first two quarters, the Patriots led 17-7.

In theory, had these balls really been helping Tom Brady and the Patriots that much, the second half would have been a tighter affair, yes?

Not quite. The Patriots scored 28 unanswered points in the second half to win 45-7.

So that was that. The Patriots won comfortably, forcing their way in to the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks – where they won the title in an absolute thriller.

The NFL, however, launched an investigation following the AFC Championship game and proceeded to turn it in to an absolute circus.

BradyAp231

On May 6 of this year, the NFL published a 243-page investigative report regarding the deflation of footballs used in the AFC Championship game, known as the ‘Wells Report’.

The investigation concluded that it was “more probable than not” that New England Patriots equipment personnel were deliberately circumventing the rules. Further, Brady was implicated as it being, again, “more probable than not” that he was aware of the deflation.

The report further stated that Belichick and other members of the coaching staff were not involved in the situation.

There was no definitive proof that Tom Brady – or anyone at the Patriots – had deflated the footballs. Surely that is enough for the case to be closed.

No. The NFL instead slapped Brady with a four-game suspension without pay (which will equate to around $1.8 million), and the Patriots copped a $1 million fine and lost two draft picks.

There is absolutely no evidence – and that is the key word – that Brady had any knowledge or played any part in deflating the balls used.

Read the entire Wells Report if you wish. Find the evidence that warrants the sanctions handed down to Brady and the Patriots by the NFL.

I bet you can’t.

Brady has appealed his suspension. The NFL has one last chance to bury this mess, and overturn their decision.

One chance to let the Patriots begin their title defence with their number 12 leading the way on the field, not watching from the sideline.

(PHOTO: Associated Press)

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