On Monday, while there were still week one games to be played, I thought the steepest penalty the Patriots could expect would be a 4th round pick. After the story Imused on Tuesday, I know at the very least they would have to forfeit a 3rd. (The NFL has penalized teams 3rd round picks three times due to salary cap violations.) I thought a 1st round was a fair punishment and a solid deterrent for future espionage, and that was about what my poll revealed: about 40% thought a penalty of less than a 1st was fair, and about 47% thought a penalty of more than a 1st round pick was fair.
Roger Goodell, pictured in 1981 to the left, had to lay some smack down on New England or else the players would have accused them on being easier on management. A forfeiture of their win against the Jets would have set a chaotic precedent - every losing team would have ex-KGB guys looking for bugs in the locker room in order to pull out a win days after the game. A Belichick suspension wouldn't have acted as a deterrent: there would surely be ways for Belichick to make calls in the game outside of the stadium. Or it could also help the teams the Patriots play next, while penalizing a draft pick helps all other teams. Also, Profootballtalk notes that this could make Belichick a martyr, and this is a more permanent penalty.
This ruling came hours after the Commissioner visited Kevin Everett in the hospital. I half expected to hear Goodell put his hand on Everett's back and healed him, and then he turned water into Gatorade. It's amazing what kind of impact Goodell has had on the #1 brand name in the United States. It would be like someone taking over as McDonald's CEO and suddenly they're serving grade A beef and Chicken McNuggets that aren't disgusting. Or someone taking over for Bill Gates and within a year they start releasing innovative products.