The New England Patriots will start the defence of their NFL Super Bowl title without the services of the franchise's greatest all-time player.
The NFL has announced that quarterback Tom Brady has been suspended without pay for four games for violating the NFL policy on the integrity of the game.
The team has also been fined a million US dollars and will forfeit a 2016 first rounder and 2017 fourth-round selection in the NFL Draft.
The massive punishment comes less than a week after an independent investigator found that it was "more probable than not" that Brady was "at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities" regarding the deflation of Patriots game balls used in the AFC Championship Game against the Colts.
The NFL made it clear that Brady's lack of cooperation with the league's investigation was a factor in the punishment.
The Patriots are likely to start last year's second-round pick Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback for the season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers when the season gets underway on September 10th.
Brady will return when the Patriots take on the Colts in Week 6 on Sunday Night Football.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft commented on the matter last week, saying his team "had done nothing inappropriate in this process or in violation of the NFL rules." He indicated, however, the team would accept any punishment the league hands down.