The NFL handed down its punishment to the Patriots yesterday and it falls far short of harsh. The team will lose a first-round pick this season if they make a playoffs or their second and third-rounders if they miss the postseason and will pay a $250,000 fine. Bill Belichick will personally have to pay a $500,000 fine. The penalty seems severe since no team has ever been stripped of the first-round pick that the Pats will potentially lose but it isn't. Let's be honest about how good the Patriots are this season, something Roger Goodell wasn't willing to do, and posit that they make the Super Bowl. They would then lose either the 31st or 32nd pick in the draft, pay their minimal fine and move on without really suffering any setback after getting caught cheating. That still leaves the Pats with the 49ers first-round pick and unless Alex Smith turns into Joe Montana that's sure to be a better selection than the one they earn by themselves and the penalties do nothing to hurt the Patriots this season. They could have suspended Belichick for what Goodell called "a calculated and deliberate attempt to avoid longstanding rules designed to encourage fair play and promote honest competition on the playing field."
What's more important to a professional sports league than that? Wade Wilson, a Cowboys coach, got a five game suspension for buying performance enhancing drugs - and the drugs weren't to enhance his coaching performance - because PEDs fly in the face of fair play and honest competition. Yet Belichick does something that tampers with the outcome of a game and gets away scott free. It doesn't make sense that Goodell would say that he considered suspending the coach but decided against it because the penalty handed down was far more significant and long-lasting than a suspension.
Doesn't that depend on the suspension, Roger? I'm not advocating what Carson Palmer of the Bengals suggested, a suspension equal to that of Chris Henry, because Belichick isn't a criminal miscreant but wouldn't the same suspension that Wilson received create some problems for New England? And why the focus on something long-lasting. The Patriots got caught cheating this season and should get penalized for it this season.