BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots will kick off the NFL’s 2015 season on Thursday, September 10 at Gillette Stadium against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the night they are also scheduled to raise their Super Bowl XLIX banner. However, quarterback Tom Brady won’t be the one taking snaps under center in that game.
On Monday, the league announced that Tom Brady has been suspended four games.
Related: Robert Kraft Responds To Punishment
In addition, the Patriots will have a first-round pick in 2016 and a fourth-round pick in 2017 taken away. The team will also be fined $1 million.
“We reached these decisions after extensive discussion with Troy Vincent and many others,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We relied on the critical importance of protecting the integrity of the game and the thoroughness and independence of the Wells report.”
Brady will be allowed to participate in all offseason activities, including preseason games, but his suspension is set to begin on the first week of the regular season.
Vincent, the NFL’s executive VP of football operations, said that “there seems little question that the outcome of the AFC Championship Game was not affected.” However, the Patriots’ Spygate scandal in 2007 contributed to the severity of this punishment.
“There are several factors that merit strong consideration in assessing discipline. The first is the club’s prior record. In 2007 the club and several individuals were sanctioned for videotaping signals of opposing defensive coaches in violation of the Constitution and Bylaws. Under the Integrity of the Game Policy, this prior violation of competitive rules was properly considered in determining the discipline in this case.”
Vincent continued: “Another important consideration identified in the Policy is ‘the extent to which the club and relevant individuals cooperated with the investigation.’ The Wells report identifies two significant failures in this respect. The first involves the refusal by the club’s attorneys to make Mr. McNally available for an additional interview, despite numerous requests by Mr. Wells and a cautionary note in writing of the club’s obligation to cooperate in the investigation. The second was the failure of Tom Brady to produce any electronic evidence (emails, texts, etc.), despite being offered extraordinary safeguards by the investigators to protect unrelated personal information.”
“Although we do not hold the club directly responsible for Mr. Brady’s refusal to cooperate, it remains significant that the quarterback of the team failed to cooperate fully with the investigation.
“Finally, it is significant that key witnesses – Mr. Brady, Mr. Jastremski, and Mr. McNally – were not fully candid during the investigation.”
The news release also said that the Patriots have indefinitely suspended John Jastremski and Jim McNally, the two employees on whom much of Ted Wells’ investigation centered.
Wells, who was hired by the NFL to investigate the controversy, submitted his report to the league and Patriots on Wednesday, and it was released to the public shortly after. In his 243-page report, Wells determined that Patriots team employees likely deflated footballs and Brady was “at least generally aware” of the situation.
Following the release of the report, team owner Robert Kraft issued a statement stating his disappointment with the findings and lack of hard evidence from Wells’ investigation. Tom Brady Sr. also spoke on the matter, calling it “Framegate” and saying he has no doubts about his son’s integrity.
The Patriots will also be without running back LeGarrette Blount for their opener, who was suspended in April for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Vincent wrote this directly to Brady:
“With respect to your particular involvement, the report established that there is substantial and credible evidence to conclude you were at least generally aware of the actions of the Patriots’ employees involved in the deflation of the footballs and that it was unlikely that their actions were done without your knowledge. Moreover, the report documents your failure to cooperate fully and candidly with the investigation, including by refusing to produce any relevant electronic evidence (emails, texts, etc.), despite being offered extraordinary safeguards by the investigators to protect unrelated personal information, and by providing testimony that the report concludes was not plausible and contradicted by other evidence.
“Your actions as set forth in the report clearly constitute conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the game of professional football. The integrity of the game is of paramount importance to everyone in our league, and requires unshakable commitment to fairness and compliance with the playing rules. Each player, no matter how accomplished and otherwise respected, has an obligation to comply with the rules and must be held accountable for his actions when those rules are violated and the public’s confidence in the game is called into question.”
Tom Brady’s agent, Don Yee, said the quarterback will appeal the “ridiculous” suspension.
If Brady does serve the four-game suspension, his first game of the 2015 season will be in Week 6 at the Indianapolis Colts.