The New England Patriots head to the NFL scouting combine this week knowing that they don’t have a selection for the first 59 picks of the 2016 NFL Draft, thanks to the ruling from Commissioner Roger Goodell, who stripped the team of a first rounder this year and a fourth rounder next year as a result of the Deflategate scandal.
As we move closer to the draft in late April, and as the league’s Deflategate investigation and the Wells Report continue to get scrutinized over time, sentiment from fans that the team was unjustly stripped of the picks has grown, as evidenced by one of many petitions on Change.org.
But as of late, the belief that the league should rescind its punishment of the Patriots has grown, even outside of New England. Last week, FoxSports.com’s Chris Chase wrote a column arguing that the league needs to give the team its picks back. Then on Monday, TheMMQB’s Peter King, one of the most respected voices in NFL media, joined him.
Based on the weight of the evidence from the past 13 months, and that weight being circumstantial and not convincing, there’s one conclusion I’ve reached entering the 2016 draft season: Roger Goodell needs to give back the picks.
King argues that “Goodell killed an ant with a sledgehammer” for a number of reasons, but focused on three areas: 1) referee Walt Coleman’s mishandling of the game balls before kickoff 2) the idea that the Wells Report “abused” the Ideal Gas Law 3) the issue of whether Tom Brady even gained an advantage from this whole thing.
Like many folks, King argues that league rules were broken based on the findings of the Wells Report (and reports like this recent from The New York Times are really calling that into question). On the other hand, the Patriots were never implicated as a team and should’ve gotten a sizable fine and a public admonishment at worst.
Regardless, as the league seems to be in little rush to delve back into the validity of its Deflategate investigation and made no effort this year to study the effects of PSI in game balls. Barring some a huge shift, it’s hard to see the league budging on its ruling — especially with the appeals process against Judge Richard Berman’s ruling in the Tom Brady appeal still going.
Do you think the Patriots should get their draft pick back?