Tom Brady banned and Patriots fined over 'DeflateGate' scandal
Super Bowl champions found to have deflated balls in game against Indianapolis Colts
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been banned for four games and the team fined $1m and stripped of their first round draft pick in 2016 over the 'DeflateGate' scandal.
The NFL has acted after finding that the Super Bowl champions had deliberately deflated match balls during their 45-7 AFC play-off victory over the Indianapolis Colts in January, the game that secured their passage to the final.
Each team uses its own set of balls during an NFL game, and it has been claimed that 11 of the 12 balls used by the Patriots provided for the match, were under-inflated by about two pounds per square inch. The game was played in wet, slippery conditions but underinflating the balls would have given Brady more grip.
The Wells Reports that investigated the claims found that Brady would have been "at least generally aware of inappropriate activities".
The quarterback has signalled his intention to appeal against the ban. His agent Don Yee said the report's "outcome was pre-determined" and "ridiculous". He added that its conclusions were an "incredibly frail exercise in fact-finding and logic".
Patriots owner Robert Kraft said the player had the "unconditional support" of the franchise.
However, Brady is paying the price for refusing to turn over phone and email records to the investigators, says the Daily Telegraph. "The league came down hard on the Patriots, but singled out Brady for specific punishment saying he not only tarnished the league's image but refused to cooperate with investigators."
If the ban is upheld, Brady will not return to action until 18 October when, as luck would have it, the Patriots face the Colts.
"The Patriots must now make plans following a decision that leaves them without their best player for a quarter of next season," says The Guardian. "Brady's back-up, Jimmy Garoppolo, has attempted just 27 passes in his NFL career, while the Patriots' AFC East rivals should all be stronger in 2015 than they were last season."