NFL: Tom Brady suspended over deflategate

Tom Brady has been suspended for the first four games of the new NFL season.

The NFL suspended the Super Bowl MVP without pay for the first four games of next season for his role in a scheme to deflate footballs used in the AFC title game.

The league also fined the Patriots $1million (£640,000) and took away two draft picks, including next year’s first-round choice as well as their fourth-round pick in 2017.

The NFL had been investigating reports that the Pats, who went on to win the Super Bowl, purposefully sabotaged the balls during the first half of their game against the Indianapolis Colts in January, a controversy that was dubbed “deflategate”.

And last week an independent report revealed Brady was “at least generally aware” that under-inflated balls were used during the clash, won 45-7 by the Patriots.

“The New England Patriots were notified today of the following discipline that has been imposed for violations of the NFL Policy on Integrity of the Game and Enforcement of Competitive Rules relating to the use of under-inflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game of this past season,” read the statement.

“For the violation of the playing rules and the failure to cooperate in the subsequent investigation, the New England Patriots are fined one million US dollars and will forfeit the club’s first-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft and the club’s fourth-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft.

“If the Patriots have more than one selection in either of these rounds, the earlier selection shall be forfeited. The club may not trade or otherwise encumber these selections.

“Quarterback Tom Brady will be suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2015 regular season for conduct detrimental to the integrity of the NFL.

“Brady may participate in all off-season, training camp and pre-season activities, including pre-season games.”

Patriots officials locker room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski were also indefinitely suspended without pay by the club after the independent report found it was “more probable than not” that they “participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls after the balls were examined by the referee”.

The NFL statement continued: “Neither of these individuals may be reinstated without the prior approval of NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent.

“If they are reinstated by the Patriots, Jastremski is prohibited from having any role in the preparation, supervision, or handling of footballs to be used in NFL games during the 2015 season.

“McNally is barred from serving as a locker room attendant for the game officials, or having any involvement with the preparation, supervision, or handling of footballs or any other equipment on game day.”

The two New England employees were believed to prepare the balls to Brady’s liking, below the league-mandated minimum of 12.5 pounds per square inch.

Underinflating an American football can help a QB improve his grip and control over the ball.

Brady maintained he knew nothing about the incident which helped the Patriots defeat the Colts in the divisional decider and propel them on to Super Bowl glory, dramatically won 28-24 against the Seattle Seahawks after a thrilling encounter.