The Deflategate hammer has come down on quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
The NFL announced Monday (May 11) that Brady will be suspended for four games without pay at the start of the 2015-16 football season. The Patriots will also have to pay a $1 million fine and surrender their first round 2016 draft pick and fourth round 2017 pick as punishment for using deflated game balls in the AFC Championship game versus the Indianapolis Colts in fall 2014.
As of now, the Patriots’ status as Super Bowl XLIX champions is not in jeopardy.
Tom Wells led an independent investigation of the “Deflategate” scandal and turned over his results to the NFL on Wednesday (May 6).
In the report Wells determined that Jim McNally, the Officials Locker Room attendant for the Patriots, and equipment assistant John Jastremski “participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls after the balls were examined by the referee.”
The report also states that Brady was “more than probably aware of the inappropriate activities.”
Head coach Bill Belichick and all other Patriots personnel were cleared of involvement with the deflated game balls, according to the Wells report.
Brady’s suspension will be the first games he’s missed since his ACL injury in the first week of the 2008 season. Jimmy Garoppolo is expected to lead the Patriots in their season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brady will return in Week 6 — which, ironically, pits him against the Colts.