Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Just desserts

A day later, the nonsense flows unabated from the camp of the New England Patriots, serial cheaters.

Owner Robert Kraft says the punishment -- Tom Brady gets a four-game sitdown and the organization gets fined $1 million and loses a first-round draft pick in 2016 and a fourth-round pick in 2017 -- far exceeded what he expected, given that the evidence is all "circumstantial."

Brady's agent, Don Yee, called it "ridiculous" that his client would get benched for four games because there's no evidence Brady had anything to do with messing with game balls.

And so on, and so on.

And, please, gentlemen, it's time to quit while you're ahead.  While the Wells Report couldn't find Brady's fingerprints on Deflategate -- these people are way too good at covering their tracks to let that happen -- to suggest he had nothing to do with this is to suggest some lowly functionary in the most rigidly top-down hierarchy in the NFL decided on his own to mess with the game balls for the AFC Championship.

Right. And there's some grand oceanfront property available in Nebraska, too, I hear.

And so Brady will get his sitdown, and the Patriots will lose some pocket change and a couple of draft picks for what the colleges call a lack of institutional control. Frankly, they got off easy, no matter what Robert Kraft says. If you can suspend Sean Payton for a year down in New Orleans for something of which he likely didn't have any knowledge, you can certainly ding the Patriots, a two-time loser who'd already been punished once for getting funny with league rules.

This was, after all, as much about Spygate as anything else.  Without Spygate in their past, Brady probably gets one game or maybe just double-secret probation. And the organization is fined --  a hangnail punishment when you're talking about an NFL franchise -- and told not to do it again.

But the NFL already told the Patriots not to do it again, and they did it again. And still the organizational punishment amounts to a slap on the wrist.

So no whining, Robert Kraft and Co. Roger Goodell got this one right, proving true once again the old adage about the blind squirrel and the acorn.

If he goes any lighter on this, 31 other teams in the NFL who already think he has too cozy a relationship with Kraft would have howled.  And Goodell's credibility, already rubber-legged, would have been down-goes-Frazier. It's his good fortune that the same Patriots for whom he's regarded to be a cheerleader also have a previous criminal record.

So now it's Jimmy Garoppolo against the world for four games. Or, to be specific, against a depleted Pittsburgh squad, a vastly improved Buffalo team, lowly Jacksonville and the always overrated Dallas Cowboys. And then Brady returns -- against the very team (the Colts) who blew the whistle on him.

Don't ever say the Shield doesn't have a finely tuned instinct for drama.

And that it can't, occasionally, get something right.


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