New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been suspended four games by the NFL in the wake of the recently released findings from the investigation into the "DeflateGate" scandal. The NFL announced the suspension on Monday while also docking the Patriots their first-round pick in 2016 and fourth-round pick in 2017 in addition to fining the team $1 million.
Pending an appeal, Brady will be suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season for what the NFL called "conduct detrimental to the integrity of the NFL." Brady will be allowed to participate in offseason workouts, training camp and preseason games.
"We reached these decisions after extensive discussion with Troy Vincent and many others," Roger Goodell said in a statement. "We relied on the critical importance of protecting the integrity of the game and the thoroughness and independence of the Wells report."
More on DeflateGate
What's next for Brady and the Patriots
What led to the four-game suspension and $1 million fine for Brady? How did New England end up losing a first- and fourth-round pick?
More on DeflateGate
The fact that Brady refused to cooperate in the NFL's investigation played a significant role in the punishment according to the league.
Brady plans to appeal, according to his agent.
"The discipline is ridiculous and has no legitimate basis," the statement reads. "In my opinion, this outcome was pre-determined; there was no fairness in the Wells investigation whatsoever. There is no evidence that Tom directed footballs be set at pressures below the allowable limits. In fact, the evidence shows Tom clearly emphasized that footballs be set at pressures within the rules.
"Tom also cooperated with the investigation and answered every question presented to him. The Wells Report presents significant evidence, however, that the NFL lacks standards or protocols with respect to its handling of footballs prior to games; this is not the fault of Tom or the Patriots. The report also presents significant evidence the NFL participated with the Colts in some type of pre-AFC Championship Game planning regarding the footballs. This fact may raise serious questions about the integrity of the games we view on Sundays."
The punishment is somewhat uncharted territories for the NFL. While superstars have been suspended in the past for arrests, PEDs and substance abuse, accusations and proof of cheating are unprecedented.
An investigative report concluded that it "was more probable than not" that Brady was aware of the alleged plan by two locker room attendants to purposely deflate the Patriots' game balls just prior to the AFC Championship against the Indianapolis Colts.
Text messages between the two Patriots employees involved in the deflation -- Jim McNally, the officials locker room attendant, and John Jastremski, an equipment assistant, suggest that Brady had knowledge of the plan to alter the game balls and requested for the footballs to be deflated below the required pressure of 12.5 pounds per square inch.
Furthermore, there is reportedly some evidence that Brady gave McNally, the guy responsible for deflating the balls, a few autographed items in the week leading up the AFC title game.
The report also cited the dramatic increase in the frequency of communication between Brady and Jastremski when the scandal became public on Jan. 19. Before the news broke, Brady and Jastremski hadn't spoken on the phone in six months. The two then had six phone and text conversations (two per day) lasting a total of nearly 60 minutes on Jan. 19-21, before Jastremski had to give his cell phone to the Patriots for "forensic imaging."
Additionally, Brady has publicly said that he prefers to use footballs that are deflated at the low end of the allowable limit, making it even more plausible that he was involved in the pre-game tampering of the game balls.
The report also cites a conversation between Brady and Bill Belichick in the week following the AFC Championship, during which Brady says that he did nothing wrong when the coach asked him if he ordered the game balls to be deflated.
Brady was interviewed by the investigators and denied "any knowledge of or involvement in any efforts to deflate game balls after the pre-game inspection by the game officials," and even claimed that he didn't know who McNally was before DeflateGate became a national topic of conversation in late January. However, Brady refused to release any of his text messages or phone records requested by the league.
With Brady suspended, the Patriots will likely turn to second-year passer Jimmy Garoppolo to lead the way for the Patriots. The only other quarterback on the roster is Garrett Gilbert, so the team will likely look to sign a veteran quarterback to provide the team with some depth until Brady returns.