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Raiders’ Del Rio calls Deflategate penalty ‘overreaction’

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Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio compares the NFL’s discipline handed down against the New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady in the Deflategate scandal to the sanctions USC received from the NCAA.

“I think there are some similarities in terms of an overreaction, from my standpoint,” Del Rio said Saturday before the former All-American linebacker’s induction into the USC Athletics Hall of Fame. “I think it was a little bit overdone, but that’s somebody else’s problem right now.”

Del Rio said the NFL instead should have warned all quarterbacks that tampering with game balls would not be tolerated going forward.

“Everybody understands that quarterbacks all want to get the balls how they like them, and why not?” Del Rio said. “They throw these balls around, and one of the reasons the sport is so popular is the ability of guys like Peyton (Manning) and Brady to throw the ball the way they do.”

The league suspended Brady for four games in addition to fining the Patriots $1 million and docking the franchise a first-round draft pick in 2016 and a fourth-round pick in 2017 following the release of the Ted Wells investigative report on May 6.

In the Wells report, investigators said it was “more probable than not” that Brady “was at least generally aware” that team employees were instructed to prepare the game balls to his liking. They inflated the footballs below the league minimum of 12.5 pounds per square inch.

Wells found Brady and the Patriots’ equipment staff were all likely culpable in reducing the psi in the AFC Championship game in January against the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts brought the issue to the attention of the league, sparking a four-month investigation.

In his summary, Wells wrote about the irregularities in the footballs used in the game when the Patriots routed the Colts 45-7 to win the AFC title. The Patriots went on to beat the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 in the Super Bowl.

The NCAA penalized USC after it determined running back Reggie Bush and his family received money and other benefits from sports marketers. The school was hit with a two-year bowl ban, lost 30 scholarships over three years, and had to vacate its 2004 national championship and all 12 wins in 2005. The Trojans emerged from probation in June 2014.

Del Rio was inducted into USC’s hall along with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll as part of a 16-member class.

Carroll, honored for coaching the Trojans to two national championships and seven consecutive BCS bowls and Pac-10 titles during the 2000s, said he supported the NFL’s decision on Deflategate.

“Nobody wants to play this game thinking that somebody has some kind of advantage, players and fans alike, and so they did the right thing in following up on it,” Carroll said.


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