In his appeal ruling on Tom Brady’s four-game suspension, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote that “steroid use” appears as the “closest parallel” to the New England Patriots quarterback’s alleged infraction.
In his ruling, Goodell invoked the “first violation” of the league’s rules on the use of steroids.
In terms of the appropriate level of discipline, the closest parallel of which I am aware is the collectively bargained discipline imposed for a first violation of the policy governing performance enhancing drugs; steroid use reflects an improper effort to secure a competitive advantage in, and threatens the integrity of, the game. Since the advent of our testing for steroid use in the 1980’s and now, pursuant to our Collective Bargaining Agreement, the first positive test for the use of performance enhancing drugs has resulted in a four-game suspension without the need for any finding of actual competitive effect.
…. The four-game suspension imposed on Mr. Brady is fully consistent with, if not more lenient than, the discipline ordinarily imposed for the most comparable effort by a player to secure an improper competitive advantage and (by using a masking agent) to cover up the underlying violation.
Illegal drug use, particularly in a violent, contact sport, plays for most as a far worse infraction than what Brady stands accused of doing. As CBS Sports’ Will Brinson says, “Goodell is striking a blow to Brady’s credibility with not just his actual ruling to uphold the suspension, but the deeper, cutting meaning of the words within the ruling itself.”
In sustaining the suspension, Goodell also rejected the idea that because it was the first offense of its kind that the league should go easy on Brady. Plainly, Goodell was in no mood to cut Brady any slack.
Equating the deflation of some footballs to the use of illegal steroids says something. But of Goodell or Brady?
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