Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and current Fox NFL commentator Troy Aikman is one of many people in and around the NFL who think Tom Brady is directly responsible for deflating the footballs used during the AFC Championship game.
Aikman also believes that the punishments for Brady, head coach Bill Belichick, and the rest of the team needs to be severe, historically so, and that it doesn’t matter who was actually involved and who knew what.
While commenting on the scandal on Sports Radio 1310 in Dallas, Aikman says he feels the NFL should give the Patriots a harsher penalty than the New Orleans Saints received in “Bountygate,” where players were rewarded for hits that knocked opposing players out of the game.
“[Saints head coach] Sean Payton did not cheat … There was nothing that Sean Payton and the Saints did that was illegal. And they did not give themselves a competitive edge. I maintain, regardless of whatever was said in the locker room, and in that locker room, is not anything different than what’s been said in any other locker room around the league. There’s no proof on the field of what took place that guys were targeting players. You can always pull out a play here and there. They were one of the least penalised teams for unsportsmanlike conduct. So there was no evidence that anything translated to the field that they were trying to hurt players. And they did not give themselves a competitive advantage.”
On the other hand, Aikman argues that the Patriots have now been caught cheating on multiple occasions and have been caught doing things that give themselves a competitive advantage.
Here are the punishments handed out in Bountygate:
- Head coach Sean Payton was suspended for a year without pay
- The New Orleans Saints received a $US500,000 fine
- Former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely (he has since been reinstated)
- Saints assistant coach Joe Vitt was suspended without pay for 6 games
- Saints lost two second round picks, one in 2012 and one in 2013
- GM Mickey Loomis was fined $US500,000 and suspended for 8 games
- Linebacker Jonathan Vilma was originally suspended for the entire season but ended up playing in 11 games after an appeal and delay.
- Three other players received suspensions of varying lengths but after an appeal and delay none missed any games because of the suspension.
Aikman also cites Goodell’s own words in why the Patriots’ punishment should be even more severe.
When Payton was suspended for the entire 2012 season, Goodell said “ignorance is not an excuse,” suggesting the head coach is ultimately responsible.
If the NFL finds the Patriots responsible, they and Belichick will be repeat offenders. Even if the league can’t prove who deflated the footballs, they may have no choice but to come down hard on both the team and their future Hall of Fame coach.
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