Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Apologize this

Give Patriots owner Robert Kraft this much: He's fully stocked on gall.

This after Kraft lashed out at the NFL, saying the league owed his team an apology if its investigation finds that the Patriots did not mess with the footballs used in the AFC title game.

Pardon me, but ... what?

Owes them an apology, after the Patriots were all but let off the hook for Sypgate? Owes them an apology, while trotting out a lot of nonsense about how the footballs used in the game somehow lost two pounds of pressure because of the weather? Owes them an apology?

The Blob has never been shy about putting the Shield up against the wall when it has it coming, but in this case, it's got Roger Goodell 'n' them's backs. The league will owe the Patriots nothing if it finds nothing. Zilch, nada, get outta my air, mister.

You expect a team owner to go to the mat for his guys, and if that were all Kraft had done yesterday, he would have been fine. But demanding the NFL bow and scrape for simply doing its job? Or even for questioning the integrity of an organization whose integrity has already been compromised?

The arrogance was breathtaking, not to say the lack of awareness. Does the man not realize how cynical the rest of the country already is about the Pats' cozy relationship with Roger the Hammer?

Outside New England, virtually no one expects the NFL to do a thing to Bill Belichick, Tom Brady or any of the other major players in the Patriots' fold. And, yes, that's precedence at work: The league let 'em up easy for Spygate, and the presumption is it will do so again.  As Richard Sherman of the Seahawks pointed out the other day, Goodell and Kraft were hanging out together at Kraft's place the weekend of the AFC title game. How fishy does that look now?

"Talk about a conflict of interest," Sherman said. And he was absolutely right.

Yet now Kraft is trying to paint the Patriots as an aggrieved party? What?

You can't say it too many times: Spygate stripped from the Patriots any right they have to the benefit of the doubt. Yesterday's offense-is-the-best-defense ploy might have been Kraft's attempt at salvaging his team's reputation, but that reputation fled into the night a long time ago. Most of the country simply assumes now that when Belichick's or Brady's lips are moving, they're lying.

Especially when you try to sell the utter twaddle they're trying to sell. The weather? It was 51 degrees at game time, not minus-51. And the temperature didn't drop all that much throughout the course of the game.

Try again, boys.

I don't know what the NFL's going to find, but I'll be surprised if it finds anything. The Patriot Way is sacrifice for the common good, and that means stonewalling to the last extremity. Apparently the league is looking at an equipment manager right now. Expect a lot of "No one told me to do anything but what the league mandates."

And so the Patriots will skate. And most of America will continue to think what the Patriots' own past behavior has allowed it to think, which is that again they got away clean. Or virtually so.

For that, neither America nor the league owes anyone an apology.

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