If the New England Patriots are found guilty of having illegally deflated balls in last Sunday's 45-7 victory against the Indianapolis Colts, Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman has an idea of how to punish them.
Aikman, speaking in an interview on The Ticket's Musers on SportsRadio 1310 AM and 96.7 FM in Dallas, said whatever the punishment is should be worse than what the Saints received in the bounty-gate scandal.
In that punishment, the Saints coach Sean Payton was suspended for the entire 2012, then defensive coordinator Greg Williams was suspended indefinitely, general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for the first eight games of the season, linebackers coach Joe Vitt was suspended for the first six games of the season and the team was finished $500,000.
"Now twice, under Bill Belichick and possibly a third time, they've cheated and given themselves an advantage," said Aikman, who is the No. 1 NFL color analyst for Fox Sports. "To me, the punishment for the Patriots and/or Bill Belichick has to be more severe than what the punishment was for the New Orleans Saints."
Aikman took on the ruling of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and his harsh words against the Saints.
"This whole comment by Roger Goodell based on the Saints when Sean Payton got suspended for the year, and he says 'ignorance is no excuse,' that's going to come back to haunt him again," Aikman said. "That haunted him during the whole Ray Rice situation with he, himself, and now it's going to haunt Roger Goodell in terms of what the punishment is for the New England Patriots and Bill Belichick. If ignorance is no excuse, and it wasn't for Sean Payton."
Aikman even defended Saints coach Sean Payton for his role in bountygate.
""Sean Payton did not cheat," Aikman said. "There was nothing that Sean Payton and the Saints did that was illegal. And they did not give themselves a competitive edge. I maintain, regardless of whatever was said in the locker room, and in that locker room, is not anything different than what's been said in any other locker room around the league. There's no proof on the field of what took place that guys were targeting players. You can always pull out a play here and there. They were one of the least penalized teams for unsportsmanlike conduct. So there was no evidence that anything translated to the field that they were trying to hurt players. And they did not give themselves a competitive advantage.