The verdict is in: The NFL has ruled that Tom Brady is suspended for four games, the Patriots must pay a $1 million fine and lose two important future draft picks.

Ray Rice must be relieved that he was never accused of knowing someone deflated balls before a game. Rice was suspended only two games for slugging Janay Palmer, his then-fiancée, in an elevator and dragging her out the door when it opened.

And Don Shula’s big horn must be burdensome (“NFL Notebook: Shula takes shot at Brady, Patriots,” Page C9, May 10).

Many of us admired the Dolphins under self-satisfied Shula’s tutelage – easy to do with their record of that time. But most of the story was filled with his condemnation, palpable animosity toward Brady and the Patriots, but no reference to facts to justify his judgment.

Doesn’t the NFL require evidence or proof of wrongdoing before issuing discipline? Shouldn’t it?

And Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post, whose commentary was carried the same day in the Telegram – headlined “Brady lied.” Again, did he require no proof of the damning label? Shouldn’t he have had that as the foundation of his strong opinion?

It took a long time for the NFL to be persuaded to further discipline Rice, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens. While that case does not parallel the debate about deflated balls, its similarity lies in the fact that the video of Rice and Palmer was persuasive. It was confirmation.

If the NFL commissioner and his oversight colleagues could not find hard evidence of Brady’s actions within an over-200-page report, shouldn’t the final conclusion have been “inconclusive?”

We don’t want our team to be anything other than decent men, the champions they have shown themselves to be. If Brady’s suspension holds, we can handle it. But in the absence of proof, scalding name-calling should “probably” be suspended.

Lois P. Cross

Boothbay Harbor

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