Is Tom Brady a victim of fuzzy math in his Deflategate penalty?

Let me get this straight.

Tom Brady was suspended Monday for four games because he "more probably than not" had general knowledge the New England Patriots were deflating footballs.

That is the same penalty for NFL players who get busted for performance-enhancing drugs.

That punishment is two more games than Ray Rice initially received for knocking his fiancee unconscious and dragging her out of an elevator like she was a football dummy.

Rice was later suspended indefinitely by the league, but only after the shocking video was obtained by TMZ and released to the public. (A video, incidentally, a law enforcement official claimed was sent to the NFL offices). NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admitted in hindsight that he got the Rice suspension wrong and conceded he was influenced by interviews he conducted with Rice and his fiancee, Janay Palmer, in the wake of the incident.

That's what seems to float Goodell's boat, after all: transparency. Pull up a chair, tell me everything, and I'll go easy on you.

But the Patriots aren't very adept at being forthcoming, and they are paying the price.

The repercussions from Spygate were harsh because Patriots coach Bill Belichick knew the league had explicitly forbidden the videotaping of opponents' defensive signals, and he thumbed his nose at Goodell and went out and taped the Jets anyway.

According to NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent, who handed down Brady's suspension, Spygate amounted to a "prior,'' so the Patriots were fined $1 million for Deflategate and docked a first-round pick in 2016 and a fourth-round pick in 2017. You have to give it to Vincent, Goodell and the boys in New York. They know where to hit Belichick where it hurts: his coveted draft picks and his coveted quarterback.

When investigators asked for Brady's emails, text messages and cell phones, they were denied. When they wanted to meet with locker room attendant Jim McNally (who referred to himself as the "deflator") for an additional interview, the Patriots told them to forget it.

That lack of cooperation and transparency (there's that word again), more than the actual deflation of the footballs, is what has Brady and his team mired in this mess.

Let me be clear: Brady and the Patriots deserve to be punished. They circumvented the rules on the proper inflation of the balls, then they flopped into a bunker like Sgt. Schultz ("I know nothing!") once the balls were confiscated and tested at halftime of the AFC Championship Game.

The Patriots have once again proven to be their own worst enemy and most formidable opponent, playing loose with the rules to provide an advantage that is negligible at best.

If you are wondering how much those deflated footballs aided Brady, simply look at the numbers he posted in the second half of the AFC championship, when he outscored the Colts 28-0 with balls he probably thought felt "like bricks.''

The balls used in Super Bowl XLIX were guarded more closely than a Brink's truck brimming with gold bullion, but Brady still managed to engineer one of the most exciting comebacks in recent NFL history to beat the Seattle Seahawks.

That's the shame of it. Neither Brady nor the Patriots needed deflated balls to achieve greatness.

As the days dragged on and no Wells report was issued, there was growing dread among New England officials that a significant punishment for the Patriots and their Super Bowl MVP might be forthcoming.

But four games? That's a quarter of an NFL season and a gross overreaction to the PSI of a football.

It was as if Goodell instructed his underlings to release the report, then stuck his finger up to see which way the wind was blowing. The court of public opinion matters to him, and the overwhelming sentiment was that Brady and the Patriots deserved to be punished and punished severely because they were repeat cheaters.

Fair enough. But with all the major issues that have dogged the league -- among them the devastating impact of repeated concussions on players and a wave of domestic violence -- Goodell chose to take a hard line on this?

Brady will appeal and will likely get his suspension cut in half. As his agent, Don Yee, noted in his statement Monday night, "The NFL has a well-documented history of making poor disciplinary decisions that are often overturned when truly independent and neutral judges or arbitrators preside, and a former federal judge has found the commissioner has abused his discretion in the past, so this outcome does not surprise me.''

Deflategate is yet another mark on a horrible year for the NFL, which continues to print money, despite scandals involving pumping in crowd noise (Atlanta Falcons) and the illegal heating of footballs on the sidelines (Minnesota Vikings).

Both current players and potential draft picks continue to be regulars in the police blotter. Goodell has taken steps toward a stronger domestic violence policy; suspending Greg Hardy for 10 games was a promising development. But when you have a minute, Mr. Commissioner, can you explain to me why you haven't taken a closer look at your Super Bowl runner-up, the Seattle Seahawks, who took Frank Clark with the 63rd pick in the draft?

In case you missed it, Clark was thrown off the Michigan football team following an incident in an Ohio hotel for which he originally was charged with two first-degree misdemeanors of domestic violence and assault against his former girlfriend, Diamond Hurt. Clark later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of persistent disorderly conduct. Seahawks general manager John Schneider claimed the team did their due diligence on Clark and wouldn't have drafted him if they thought Clark had struck his girlfriend.

The Seahawks insisted they did their homework, but strangely enough, they failed to interview two witnesses who heard screaming in Clark's room and went to investigate, according to the Seattle Times.

Explain how Clark is free to play football in the NFL under the umbrella of the precious "shield" Goodell is so fond of protecting, but Brady isn't.

That just doesn't work for me. If you insist on being heavy-handed, Mr. Commissioner, go after Frank Clark with even more gusto than you did your Super Bowl MVP. If you are preaching integrity in your game, that's the least you can do.

Brady has not yet commented on the Wells Report or his suspension. I'm sure he knows his reputation has absorbed a major blow. Regardless of what happens in the appeal process, he won't change the perception through much of the country that he played a role in the deflation of those footballs.

He is still one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, like Aaron Rodgers, who recently informed reporters he likes his balls overinflated.

Look out, Green Bay. They're coming for you next.