4 Super Bowl Rings, a supermodel wife, a pristine image, and enough money to go to the Kentucky Derby and the #FightoftheCentury in the same day…sounds like the perfect life to me, right? It likely was for Tom Brady until he recently went under scrutiny for his involvement in the New England Patriots’ “DeflateGate” investigation. If you missed the verdict, it can be summed up with the phrase “More probable than not.” These words were used to describe Brady’s “probable” awareness of the deflated footballs. Is that enough to harshly punish the NFL’s “Golden Boy?” The answer to this question is not so simple.

Any avid football fan cannot deny the work ethic, leadership skills, and raw talent of Tom Brady. Both on and off the field, Brady has kept a rather clean image. Sure, he had a child out of wedlock, but most people can look past that. He’s now a father of 3 (2 with current supermodel wife Giselle Bunchden) and happily married. While his peers still see him as the Tom Brady they’ve always known, the revealing of the verdict has caused the media to heavily scrutinize the integrity of Brady. Obliged to react, the NFL is now faced with yet another punishment case in which they must handle extremely carefully while keeping the most important fact in mind…the NFL is a business. Do they really want to suspend the 4-time Super Bowl champion that all general football fans tune in to watch? On the flip side, do they want to potentially risk losing fans, sponsors, and league supporters with too soft of a soft punishment?

For Tom Brady as in individual, marketing experts say he will unlikely lose sponsors. Brady remains to much of an iconic figure for brands to cut ties with him, especially those in which he endorses, such as Ugg and SmartWater,. These luxury brands are less affected by on and off the field antics than those brands who solely associate with sports. His current situation, also, does not involve the harming of another human being or living creature, like some of the other cases the NFL has dealt with in the past. So in the eyes of his sponsors, they likely do not see his current predicament to greatly affect consumer’s views of their brands. 

The NFL, on the other hand, will have to tread lightly. While the recent cases that have been said to tarnish the NFL’s brand have all been off the field, Brady and the Patriots’ case is smack dab in the middle. The integrity of the game and sport has been violated (not to mention twice by the same team under the same coach). Not only fans, but current players, coaches, and league officials expect justice to be served, but what does that entail? 1 game? 4 games? A whole season? While there are many varying opinions on the matter, the NFL, again, must remember they are a business and have many stakeholders to please. No single answer will make everyone happy, but one can only hope for the majority.