May 11, 2015: After an investigation found that New England quarterback Tom Brady probably knew about the Patriots’ intentional under-inflation of footballs in their 45-7 victory over Indianapolis in the AFC Championship Game in January, the NFL suspends Brady for the first four games of the 2015 season.Brady would appeal the suspension in a scandal that came to be known as “Deflategate,” and it was later overturned, only to be reinstated for the first four games of the 2016 season.
It all started when the Indianapolis Colts notified NFL officials before the AFC title game that they suspected the Patriots were under-inflating balls used in games. When Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson intercepted a Brady pass in the first half, he gave the ball to the team’s equipment manager to hold onto as a souvenir. Jackson didn’t notice anything wrong with the ball, but someone on the Indy sideline did and notified NFL Gameday Operations. The NFL inspected the balls used by the Patriots at halftime, and ultimately five out of 11 were deemed to be inflated at less than 90 percent of the minimum air measurement required.
Months of investigations followed as experts debated physics, weather, air gauges, and myriad other things. When the NFL finally handed down the suspension, it said there was “substantial and credible evidence” that Brady knew that Patriots staffers were deflating game balls—and that he failed to cooperate with league investigators. Brady appealed, and the suspension was then vacated until it was reinstated almost a year later. Another Brady appeal delayed the decision until July of 2016, when the U.S. Court of Appeals rejected it.
Brady finally accepted the four-game suspension to start the 2016 season, and when he returned he was a man on a mission. His only loss of the regular season came at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks, the team the Patriots had defeated in the Super Bowl two weeks after the original Deflategate allegations. Brady’s final vengeance came in Super Bowl LI, when he won the MVP award in the epic comeback from a 28-3 deficit for a 34-28 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)