The greatest player in Patriots franchise history, and debatably the game of football itself, is in for a tremendous downfall.
After the Ted Wells' "DeflateGate" investigation concluded this week and found that Tom Brady likely had a general idea that Patriots ball boys were deflating the team's footballs, it's expected that the league will come down hard on him.
ESPN's Adam Schefter and ProFootballTalk's Mile Florio each voiced their feelings that Brady would at least be suspended for game one, but the Patriots organization themselves seems to think the punishment could be even more severe.
Mike Giardi, CSNNE:
Sources with the Patriots I have spoken with tell me they are fearful of a lengthy suspension, perhaps in the six- to eight-game range, for Brady in the aftermath of the Wells Report.
The sentence can be reduced by appeal, but obviously hitching your wagon to Jimmy Garappolo isn't how Patriots fans pictured starting their Super Bowl honeymoon season.
Brady is more likely to be suspended for not fully cooperating with the NFL's investigation. According to the Wells report, Brady refused to turn over text messages and emails to aid the investigation. As Florio explains...
Regardless of whether the NFL presumed guilt or not, cooperation is mandatory. Failure to cooperate constitutes conduct detrimental to the league. And if Brady were indeed innocent (as [Brady's agent Donald] Yee reiterated), why not do everything possible to prove it?
Also, it’s misleading for Yee to rely on the lack of subpoena power. The NFL has absolute employment power over all players. Whatever it requests as part of its investigation, the NFL gets. If the NFL doesn’t get it, a separate basis for discipline arises.
Above all else, this is likely what lands Brady in hot water with the league and could result in that lengthy suspension.
In the first eight weeks of the season, the Patriots will play the Steelers, Bills, Jaguars, Cowboys, Colts, Jets and Dolphins. That's three division games, and so if the suspension is indeed upheld to eight games, those have the potential to be three extra consequential losses.
The Patriots have survived without Tom Brady before, and it's no guarantee they would crumble without him. The much more severe consequence of a suspension would likely be a tarnished legacy for a man we were calling the greatest of all time just a few months ago.
Of course, it may already be too late for that.