Stop Comparing NFL Suspension Lengths

After the news was released yesterday that Tom Brady’s four game suspension would not be reduced or removed there began an outcry of people comparing his four game suspension to the four game suspension Greg Hardy received for domestic violence issues. These outcries mostly went something along the lines of “I guess deflating footballs is the same as hitting women”. By now everyone should be in agreement that Roger Goodell bungled the handling all of the domestic violence issues last year. And just because two things are equivalent in length, doesn’t make them equal in all respects. Once that is acknowledged, comparing the Brady suspension makes little sense.

The point of this article is not to determine whether or not Tom Brady is guilty of breaking any rules, it’s just about this idea of his suspension length. At this point he was almost certainly going to be suspended at least for one game. The violation in question took place in a playoff game. A playoff game that the violating team ended up winning. A team that subsequently went on to win a championship. It’s debatable whether or not this violation helped the team win the game in question, or whether they had done it previously and had it help them win games then. But that really doesn’t matter.

As for the four game ban, this seems somewhat about it being a meaningful deterrent. A one game suspension the season after winning a championship doesn’t seem like much of a deterrent. Is there any player in the NFL that wouldn’t sacrifice one game (and it’s pay) to win a Super Bowl?

And that is why the comparison to Hardy’s suspension is silly. Is what Hardy did indefensible? No question. In fact there is almost no punishment inside or outside of football that would seem unjustified. Unfortunately it seems that our legal system typically fails in circumstances like this. That is awful because that is where the punishment should be coming from. At the end of the day though the heinous acts he committed did not increase the chances of his team winning a (playoff) game. Both Brady and Hardy did things that impact the integrity of the league, but what Brady is found guilty of impacted the integrity of actual (playoff) games.

In a vacuum what Tom Brady supposedly did warrants a multi-game suspension. Comparing it to other horrible mistakes Roger Goodell has made doesn’t make sense. All of this is magnified by the way Goodell looks incompetent at every turn, and he deserves all the criticism he receives for it. But if someone is charged with being a part of cheating on the field they deserve a deterring punishment.