Del Rio also compared the discipline to the sanctions his alma mater, USC, received after the NCAA investigated Reggie Bush.
"I think there are some similarities in terms of an overreaction, from my standpoint," Del Rio said. "I think it was a little bit overdone, but that's somebody else's problem right now."
The Patriots were fined $1 million and lost their 2016 first-round draft pick as well as a 2017 fourth-round pick. Additionally, quarterback Tom Brady was suspended four games, a ruling he is appealing.
Del Rio suggested that instead of what it did, the NFL should have warned quarterbacks that tampering with the football would not be tolerated in the future.
"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."
- Molly Geary