Will New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady serve any suspension at all as a result of the so-called “Deflategate” scandal? Or does the bizarre and seemingly farcical reduction of the suspension handed to Greg Hardy simply make the NFL look completely ridiculous if Commissioner Roger Goodell upholds Brady’s four-game ban?
Hardy was convicted in a bench trial of violently assaulting his ex-girlfriend Nicole Holder in May 2014, throwing her onto a tile bathroom floor, dragging her by the hair, and again picking her up and throwing her — this time onto a sofa covered in guns and assault rifles, which Hardy claimed were all loaded.
When Hardy exercised his right to a jury trial, the charges were dismissed because Holder had taken a cash settlement and, as a result, refused to testify against Hardy.
But after an NFL investigation conducted by New York lawyer Lisa Friel, the league suspended Hardy for 10 games.
On Friday, however, arbitrator Harold Henderson — after a hearing at which Hardy refused to testify and Friel was not called — cut Hardy’s suspension from 10 games down to four, declaring that the 10-game ban was “simply too much” for Hardy’s violent offense.
That leaves the NFL in the position of suspending a convicted woman-beater for the same amount of games as Brady, who is accused of being “generally aware” that Patriots employees were “probably” deflating footballs below league-approved limits.
After the strange and apparently inappropriate decision on Hardy’s suspension came down, many football experts were left wondering how the league could let the perception stand that it considers violent assaults against women no more important than deflating footballs.
Goodell said this week in an interview with CNBC that a decision on Brady’s appeal of his four-game ban would be “coming soon.”
“Some might look at it and say four games for domestic violence and four games for underinflated footballs is not an even match,” wrote veteran ESPN.com Patriots correspondent Mike Reiss. “That is a point that few would argue.”
But Reiss added that the NFL may fall back on its reasoning that the four-game suspension of Brady was as much punishment for what the league calls his refusal to cooperate with its “Deflategate” investigation, as for being “generally aware” of ball-deflating activity by other New England employees.
“Friday’s reduction of Hardy’s suspension gives us another arbitrary example of how out of whack the league’s dart-board discipline remains,” wrote Yahoo! Sports columnist Eric Edholm.
While Goodell would not be specific about exactly when his decision on the New England Patriots quarterback would come down, football observers expect he may move quickly because the longer he waits, the longer that the suspension of Tom Brady remains the same as that of Hardy, a convicted domestic abuser.
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