A day later, the excuses, rationalizations and denials make for some entertaining reading.
This gem from radio blowhole and Patriots fanboy Colin Cowherd: This is no big deal because, hey, weren't you driving 56 in a 55 on your way to work this morning? Same thing.
This from Tom Brady's agent: It was a sting operation by the NFL, who employed the Colts to help pull it off.
This from Patriots owner Robert Kraft: Dammit, it was the weather, I'm telling you.
This from every Sammy-drinking mope from Maine to Rhode Island: Yeah, yeah, you're all just jealous 'cause we beat you. And besides, everybody does this. And besides, the Patriots crushed the Colts, anyway. And besides, even if Brady was involved, and he probably wasn't, prove that deflating gave him an advantage. Go on, prove it.
On and on. And all of it squirming away from the larger point, which is that if Brady was neck-deep in Deflategate (and only the most deranged Patriots fanboy could claim otherwise), he lied through his teeth to investigators and everyone else. Isn't he on tape saying he didn't even really know the two underlings who did the deflating? So how come their texts indicate he not only knew them but had pretty regular contact with them?
Come on, Tom Terrific. Throw down your BS and come out with your hands up.
In the end, see, it's never the deed that gets you, it's the lying about it. Watergate was indeed a second-rate burglary until the Nixon Administration started in with the fish stories. And so Brady is going to get his. Roger Goodell is in full kick-ass-and-take-names-mode trying to salvage whatever shreds of integrity the Shield still has in the wake of the domestic abuse plague. He can't afford to back up now, not after the Wells Report revealed that the league's Super Bowl champions likely cheated to get there, and not for the first time.
Best guess here is Brady gets anywhere from a four-to-eight-game sitdown, probably closer to the four than the eight. And never mind all the legal niceties about definitive proof. This is the NFL, not a court of law. It's acted on merely the appearance of wrongdoing before, and it'll do so again.
Wade past all the moral equivocation from the apologists, after all, and some inconvenient truths emerge. For instance: Whether or not deflating the footballs gave Brady an advantage is irrelevant if he thought it was going to give him an advantage. Likewise the unproven hypothesis that everyone does it. Even if that were true, what are you saying? That if you get caught red-handed you shouldn't be punished because someone else didn't get caught?
And if proper inflation of the footballs is such a minor thing, why does the league have a rule mandating it?
No, this is a big deal, not necessarily because of the act itself but because of the perception it creates. And because the team in question won the Super Bowl. And because it's been caught cheating before.
Repeat offenders always get punished more severely. And so, buckle up, Pats.
You thought Beast Mode hit you in the gut? Just wait.