New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will likely become the highest profile NFL player ever to be suspended by the league in the wake of the Deflategate scandal and the damning Wells Report.
An announcement is expected to be made next week by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, with sports analysts estimating anything from two games to a full year suspension, although the six- to eight-game range is most likely.
The punishment comes after investigator Tom Wells said in his controversial report released Wednesday that two Patriots officials, Jim McNally and John Jastremski, “participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls.” The report also stated that Brady likely knew of the plan.
“Based on the evidence, it also is our view that it is more probable than not that Tom Brady was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls,” the report read.
Wells’ report exonerated owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick from any culpability in the incident.
Any suspension could be appealed, but the loss of the 37-year-old quarterback for any number of games would be a big loss for the Super Bowl Champions. If he is benched in the ruling, second-year backup Jimmy Garoppolo will lead the team after only ever being the starting QB in preseason games.
The only time the Patriots have kicked off the season without Brady since he took over as quarterback from Drew Bledsoe in 2001 was in 2008 when he blew his ACL and MCL out in the opening game and was out for the year. Matt Cassel then took the reins and led the team to 11-5 but they missed the playoffs.
Goodell was heavily criticized last year for only suspending Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice for two games in the wake of video showing him beating his then-fiancee. He may now have to pay for that by making an example of what of the most notable face (along with Peyton Manning) in the league for more than a decade.
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