As Tom Brady's agent promises to appeal a four-game suspension for the reigning Super Bowl MVP's alleged role in "deflategate," many are wondering whether the NFL was too tough in their punishment of the star quarterback and the New England Patriots.
"I thought it was a little bit of a sledgehammer killing an ant," Sports Illustrated's "Monday Morning Quarterback" columnist Peter King said Tuesday on "CBS This Morning."
In addition to Brady's suspension, the league also fined the Patriots $1 million and took away two future draft picks.
"In the Ted Wells report, there is the acknowledgement, 'Yeah, we find fault with Brady here, we find fault with these two club employees,' but everybody connected with the Patriots was cleared. And that's why I thought... money is money, but the two draft choices, that's harsh," King said.
The NFL said Brady, who is arguably the NFL's biggest star, damaged the league's integrity.
Yet there was also a "vital" message that the NFL was sending through this penalty, King said.
"Thirty-one other owners were watching this. I think a lot of owners in the NFL have felt for a long time that the Patriots enjoy most favored nation status in the league, and this was an attempt not only to try to - on the NFL's behalf - try to get it right in terms of fair play, but try to say we play no favorites," King said.
Sportscaster Jim Gray of Showtime (a division of CBS,) Fox and Westwood One Radio said Brady and the Patriots will now "go to war."
"They will not let this continue in this fashion, they will appeal this, they will come out guns a blazing, and I believe they will have a ferocious fight," Gray said. "I think this is the 7th round of a 21 round fight. It's just the beginning."
The question is now whether Patriots owner Bob Kraft will try to appeal the punishment.
In a statement, Patriots owner Kraft said Monday: "Tom Brady has our unconditional support. Our belief in him has not wavered."
"I think when Bob Kraft went to bed last night, he went to bed a guy who was carefully weighing his options," King said. "I don't think he's made any decision right now about whether he'll appeal. My bet is that he will go rogue on this, and my bet is that he will try to appeal this penalty in the court of law. There's no way that he can appeal this as an owner because owners have to just take the sanctions the league sends them. He'd have to go outside the league."
Gray said the NFL "could have done away with this within 36 to 48 hours."
"Instead the commissioner went down this path where he hired a special investigator, and you know they're bringing on their own trouble once again to themselves," Gray said. "It's going to cause a tremendous, tremendous, fraction amongst ownership and Mr. Kraft and the NFL office will now be bogged down in the appeal of a superstar like Tom Brady."
On Monday, the NFL said the two Patriots employees, John Jastremski and James McNally, accused of deflating the footballs at the AFC championship game in January likely would not have acted without Brady's knowledge, reports CBS News correspondent Don Dahler. The league also faulted Brady for failing to cooperate with Wells, who investigated the incident.
In a letter to Brady, NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent wrote: "Your actions... clearly constitute conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the game of professional football."
CBSSports.com NFL insider Jason La Canfora says the four-game suspension indicates the league's belief Brady deserves some of the blame for "Deflategate."
"At the very least, he didn't stop it. And they're taking this as a pretty serious affront to the game -- suspending someone for a quarter of a season," La Canfora said.
Brady's agent, Don Yee, called the discipline "ridiculous."
"We will appeal, and if the hearing officer is completely independent and neutral, I am very confident the Wells Report will be exposed as an incredibly frail exercise in fact-finding and logic," Yee said in a statement.
Brady vigorously denied any wrongdoing in January and addressed the controversy again last week.
"Certainly I accept my role and responsibility as a public figure," he said last Thursday.
Some of Brady's current and former teammates criticized the punishment on Twitter, but Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who called Brady his friend, was conflicted.
"I think it is about integrity and you have to follow the rules. And so if someone's breaking rules I understand they're going to get punished for it," Manning said.
The two Patriots staffers, Jastremski and McNally, were suspended by the team without pay indefinitely. The NFL said they will not be allowed back without the league's approval.