When the NFL dished out a four-game suspension to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for his role in DeflateGate, it immediately sparked a debate about whether the punishment was fair.
Since then, a popular argument for those who believe the ban is too harsh has been that Brady received more games for “probably” deflating footballs than former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice initially did for knocking out his fiancée in an Atlantic City, N.J., elevator. So while Dan Wasserman’s cartoon in Wednesday’s Boston Globe might be beating a dead horse, it gets an important point across.
The point, however, is not to compare domestic abuse to in-game cheating accusations. The point is to show the league’s inconsistency, and sometimes ineptitude, when handing out punishments.
While domestic violence, or any violence, is a serious issue on a worldwide level, the NFL has every right to consider cheating as a serious offense in its own way. You can give someone a season-long suspension for off-field violence and for, say, rigging a game without considering them to be equally serious on a global scale. But commissioner Roger Goodell hasn’t shown he knows how to separate the two.
Goodell gave Rice his initial two-game suspension even though the Atlantic City police report clearly stated the running back “rendered (his fiancée) unconscious.” He chose a light punishment and then basically said he needed a video to really understand the seriousness of the report. It’s because of this that some NFL fans don’t trust Goodell’s logic when it comes to doling out suspensions.
If the league had more consistency when it comes to punishing players, there might not have been an issue with Brady’s ban. But as Wasserman’s cartoon shows, it’s hard not to think of other punishments the NFL has botched every time a player is suspended.