Dan Shaughnessy: ‘Surprised How Harsh It Is’

Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Tuesday, as reaction to Tom Brady’s four-game suspension and the New England Patriots’ punishment continues to roll in.

“It’s pretty shocking,” Shaughnessy said on Tiki and Tierney. “It’s hard to get your head around. The penalty is very harsh. They dropped the hammer on them. I’m surprised it’s as harsh as it is.”

While Brady’s suspension can in many ways be justified, there are those who feel that everything else – the $1 million fine, the loss of draft picks – is a little over the top, that the league punished the Patriots independent of Brady’s transgressions.

“I think that’s true,” Shaughnessy said. “And I think (the league) would tell you it’s because it’s a repeat offender. They were sanctioned in 2007 in Spygate, and I think they really came down hard because of not full cooperation from the Patriots and Brady, and that would go to not giving them (Jim) McNally one last time after they had discovered the texts. (The Patriots) lawyered up and said, ‘No, you can’t have him again.’ That was one. And then of course Brady with his personal information and his cell phone and whatnot – they don’t like that.

“They also feel strongly about integrity of the game and competitive balance,” Shaughnessy continued. “Not balance, but competition rules. They’re trying to send a statement out here and kind of reinvent themselves. I think the Patriots’ inability to admit any guilt really worked against them here – unlike some of the other franchises recently where they said, ‘Yeah, sorry, you got us,’ and they kind of move on. The Patriots have not done that, do not appear to be doing that, and it feels like they need to secede from the NFL if they want to make this work.”

But where does New England go from there? What are the next steps in the process?

“That’s a really good question,” Shaughnessy said. “We’ve got kind of conflicting press releases from Bob Kraft last week. Last week he said they would accept the findings. They didn’t like the report, but they would accept the league’s findings and accept the league’s sanctions. And yesterday’s two-paragraph statement from Kraft said, ‘Well, we said that then, but this is way worse than we thought.’ So they were willing to accept it evidently when it had been what they thought. This, they don’t seem willing to accept. They have not stated that they’re appealing it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they do.”

As Brandon Tierney pointed out, the punishment could have had more to do with the court of public opinion than the Wells Report itself. After all, the public has never had a voice as loud as it has now, and when the people speak, businesses and corporations must listen – and react.

Brady’s sit-down interview with Jim Gray at Salem State University last week didn’t help, either.

“That was an unfortunate event altogether,” Shaughnessy said. “It just looked like a Patriots’ pep really, and nobody comes across good there. I think the charges were there. The league already said it did not find Tom believable, and he just kind of schlepped it off. I think people at that time would have felt better if he had said, ‘Hey, they’re making this up. I didn’t do anything.’ He didn’t give us that then, and it makes you wonder about some of the stuff we saw earlier. I feel very badly for him. I do. Because this guy’s been top shelf for 15 years. A true champion. This is hurting him. I wish we could hear from him.”

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