Tom Brady will be suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season, pending the result of his forthcoming federal court case against the NFL. Though DeflateGate will drag on, the NFL's decision still sent reverberations throughout the league. The NFL made its statement in its decision, saying, "Brady was aware of, and took steps to support, the actions of other team employees to deflate game footballs below the levels called for by the NFL's Official Playing Rules."
Donald Yee, Brady's agent, vehemently disagreed, calling the appeal process a "sham":
"The Commissioner's decision is deeply disappointing, but not surprising because the appeal process was thoroughly lacking in procedural fairness.
Most importantly, neither Tom nor the Patriots did anything wrong. And the NFL has no evidence that anything inappropriate occurred.
The appeal process was a sham, resulting in the Commissioner rubber-stamping his own decision. For example, the Wells investigative team was given over 100 days to conduct its investigation. Just days prior to the appeal hearing, we were notified that we would only have four hours to present a defense; therefore, we didn't have enough time to examine important witnesses. Likewise, it was represented to the public that the Wells team was ‘independent'; however, when we requested documents from Wells, our request was rejected on the basis of privilege. We therefore had no idea as to what Wells found from other witnesses, nor did we know what those other witnesses said.
These are just two examples of how the Commissioner failed to ensure a fair process.
Additionally, the science in the Wells Report was junk. It has been thoroughly discredited by independent third parties.
Finally, as to the issue of cooperation, we presented the Commissioner with an unprecedented amount of electronic data, all of which is incontrovertible. I do not think that any private citizen would have agreed to provide anyone with the amount of information that Tom was willing to reveal to the Commissioner. Tom was completely transparent. All of the electronic information was ignored; we don't know why. The extent to which Tom opened up his private life to the Commissioner will become clear in the coming days.
The Commissioner's decision and discipline has no precedent in all of NFL history. His decision alters the competitive balance of the upcoming season. The decision is wrong and has no basis, and it diminishes the integrity of the game."
NFL players were on the fence. St. Louis Rams defensive end Chris Long made a joke about breaking his cell phone all the time in reference to Brady's excuse for why he destroyed a device that contained potential evidence against him.
My assistant Jack Daniels and I actually destroy a cell phone every four months or so. Usually just the screen but I get it.— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) July 28, 2015
When users in his mentions began questioning his stance on DeflateGate, however, his tone changed and he tweeted an article he wrote for the Players' Tribune in which he defended Brady and the Patriots.
Any of you geniuses taking that as a shot at 12 may wanna read my deflategate article....— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) July 28, 2015
Let me tweet that link again for some of you ultra sensitive ultra reactive non joking taking IDIOTS http://t.co/7o0CsE5DOj— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) July 28, 2015
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Torrey Smith was less forgiving of the Patriots.
I still don't think it's the biggest deal in the world but it's just breaking the rules for no reason https://t.co/H6byctfr7Y— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) July 28, 2015
I like Tom Brady one of the Goats....but he still more than likely cheated...it's a current event relax https://t.co/L9TwQg3x8r— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) July 28, 2015
It's the rules so it should be A certain way...being comfortable is everything at that position https://t.co/EEiy14N2FY— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) July 28, 2015
Meanwhile, Donte' Stallworth, Brady's former teammate in New England, predicted that the Patriots will be just fine without their Hall of Fame quarterback.
If any team can make it without their star quarterback for the first 4 games of the season and be alright, it's the Patriots.— Donté Stallworth (@DonteStallworth) July 28, 2015
You will get to witness the true greatness of Bill Belichick under these circumstances. The whole organization will rally.— Donté Stallworth (@DonteStallworth) July 28, 2015
How mad will people be if the Patriots go back to back this season? Heads will explode, that's how mad.— Donté Stallworth (@DonteStallworth) July 28, 2015
All the while, current Patriots players have been curiously quiet. We'll soon see what the future holds for Brady and New England. For now, legal teams are furiously busy preparing for a protracted battle in court.
SB Nation presents: How Pats fans feel about the Wells Report