The New England Patriots have been fined $1 million and star quarterback Tom Brady has been suspended four games, the league announced Monday, after an investigation found it was “more probable than not” that two team employees were involved in deflating footballs during the AFC Championship game in January.
Brady’s suspension for the first four games of the 2015 season will come without pay, but he will still be able to participate in off-season, pre-season and training camp activities, the NFL said. New England will lose its first-round selection in the 2016 draft and its fourth-round selection in the 2017 draft, and the two employees said to have tampered with the footballs have been suspended indefinitely.
Troy Vincent, the league’s executive vice president of football operations, outlined the rationale for Brady’s punishment in a letter to the quarterback.
“With respect to your particular involvement,” he said, “the report established that there is substantial and credible evidence to conclude you were at least generally aware of the actions of the Patriots’ employees involved in the deflation of the footballs and that it was unlikely that their actions were done without your knowledge.”
The Patriots won the AFC title game against the Indianapolis Colts in January and then defeated the Seattle Seahawks for the Super Bowl. As it turns out, Brady’s first post-suspension game of the 2015 season will be against the Colts.
Last week, Brady said the so-called Deflategate scandal hadn’t taken away from the Patriots’ win. “We earned everything we got and achieved as a team,” he said, “and I am proud of that and so are our fans.”