Why the Patriots got punished by the NFL


The latest Patriots rule-breaking scandal fails to live up to their previous billings.

New England was docked two days of OTA practices by the NFL on Wednesday for offseason violations that were previously unspecified.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported on Thursday that the NFL Players Association accused the Patriots of a “meeting violation.”

The issue, Florio explained, was that the Patriots had an “optional” 15-minute special teams meeting early in the offseason, which was on the team’s internal schedule.

The NFLPA reportedly believed that this meeting’s inclusion on the official schedule signaled that it was not “optional” but “mandatory”.

Therefore, while other teams have been punished by the NFL in the past for holding OTA practices that were too physical, that does not appear to have been the case in this circumstance.

The Patriots were reportedly docked two OTA practices over a meeting violation.
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This situation obviously pales in comparison to the Spygate scandal in 2007, when the Patriots were busted illegally recording hand signals from the Jets sidelines.

Deflategate is a little more dubious.

Tom Brady was accused of concocting a scheme to have deflated footballs for the 2014-15 AFC championship game against the Colts, which the Patriots won in a landslide, 45-7.

NFL investigator Ted Wells concluded that it was “more probable than not” that Brady was aware of the deflated footballs.

Tom Brady after the Patriots defeated the Colts 45-7 in the 2014-15 AFC championship game.
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The investigation went so far as to uncover a text message in which clubhouse attendant James McNally, the man responsible for handling footballs before games, referred to himself as “The Deflator.”

As a result, the NFL suspended Brady for the first four games of the 2015 season, and an endless series of appeals pushed the punishment to the opening four weeks of 2016.

In the meantime, various questions such as whether the NFL properly accounted for the Ideal Gas Law muddied the waters and it became unclear if Brady was a sinister genius, a victim of one of the greatest conspiracies in modern sports history, or perhaps somewhere in between.

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