The New England Patriots have received a major blow with the NFL slapping a fine of $1 million, stripping them of two draft picks and also suspending star quarterback Tom Brady for the first four games of the 2015 season.
The NFL took this action, as it was found that game balls, during the AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts last season, where the Patriots turned out victorious, were deliberately underinflated. The investigation also concluded that Brady was "more probably than not" aware of the "inappropriate activities", which included release of air from the balls.
When the issue was initially highlighted in January, Brady denied the claims.
"I didn't alter the ball in any way," he said. "I have no knowledge of wrongdoing."
The Patriots have also been stripped of two draft picks – first round pick in 2016 and fourth round in 2017.
Patriots' CEO Robert Kraft said he is not happy with the results of the investigation over what has now been termed as "Deflategate".
"Despite our conviction that there was no tampering with footballs, it was our intention to accept any discipline levied by the league," Kraft said in a release.
The CEO even felt there was no conclusive evidence, and the punishment was unreasonable.
"Today's punishment, however, far exceeded any reasonable expectation," he added in the statement. "It was based completely on circumstantial rather than hard or conclusive evidence."
With such a harsh penalty, the New England Patriots will be without Brady for the first few games of the season, which will not go down well with the fans as he is one of the key players. In such difficult times, the fans have been behind the team.
"We are humbled by the support the New England Patriots have received from our fans throughout the world," the statement further read.
"We recognize our fans' concerns regarding the NFL's penalties and share in their disappointment in how this one-sided investigation was handled, as well as the dismissal of the scientific evidence supported by the Ideal Gas Law in the final report."