So now I imagine Jim McNally, the locker-room attendant on whom Deflategate is apparently going to be pinned, is already penning a heartfelt apology on the back of his pink slip. And if he properly plays the role of patsy for which heaven or the New England Patriots made him, you can pretty much guess what words it will contain and what words it won't.
The words it won't: Some combination of "Brady," "Belichick", "told", "me" and "to."
One word it will, regrettably: "mistake."
This is the problem with mea culpas: They're a lost art, if in fact they were ever a found art. No one in the public arena knows how to do them right. They admit wrongdoing without actually admitting wrongdoing, presumably on the advice of their dopey1-800-HURT attorneys. Thus the continual laying of blame on someone named Mistakes Were Made, who apparently is one of the most incorrigible felons of our time.
The other day, for instance, Alex Rodriguez tried to mend fences with Yankees fans with a handwritten apology for his latest PED dalliance. The tone of it suggested even A-Rod knew it was a futile gesture, given how completely he'd atomized the fences. But he struck all the right chords -- contrition, responsibility, acknowledging his nodding acquaintance with the truth -- except for one. He used the word "mistake."
Um, no, no and no. A mistake is when you inadvertently add a couple extra zeroes to a check and pay for the pizza delivery guy's college education. Taking PEDs is a willful act. It's not a mistake, it's a decision.
And so here's how A-Rod should have framed his mea culpa. It is, frankly, how every public figure should frame a mea culpa:
"Dear fans: I'd like to apologize to all of you for that thing that happened. What happened was, I took PEDs again. I did it not because someone slipped them into my 5-Hour Energy shot, but because I thought I could get away with it. I mean, hell, look how long Lance Armstrong got away with it.
"It wasn't a mistake, like when you overpay the pizza delivery guy. I knew exactly what I was doing. But I did it anyway because, you know, Lance Armstrong. And because I wanted to hit homers and be Alex Rodriguez again.
"Why? Well, because, basically, I'm all about Alex Rodriguez. I really didn't give a (bleep) about the Yankees. And I for sure didn't give a (bleep) about you, the fans. I realize now that makes me a selfish jerk. I beg your forgiveness for that. And I beg the Yankees' forgiveness, not that I deserve it or anything."
See how easy?