From the New York Times:
…On Wednesday, the N.F.L. released its report on its investigation into the scandal surrounding the surreptitious and rule-violating practice of deflating game-day footballs. Using detailed accounts and circumstantial evidence, it implicated Brady as part of the operation, saying he surely knew that the two employees, McNally, 48, and Jastremski, then 35, were purposely deflating footballs to a level beyond the permissible threshold for Brady’s benefit.
“There is less direct evidence linking Brady to tampering activities than either McNally or Jastremski,” the report said. “We nevertheless believe, based on the totality of the evidence, that it is more probable than not that Brady was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski.”
The N.F.L. report absolved other top Patriots officials, including Coach Bill Belichick, the owner Robert K. Kraft and the equipment manager Dave Schoenfeld, saying that there was “no wrongdoing or knowledge of wrongdoing” on their part….
I wrote the headline before I remembered: the NFL has no integrity, and neither do its fans. It was very clear that the Pats had cheated to get to the Super Bowl, and had the NFL cared anything about integrity, it would have completed its investigation in time to tell the Indianapolis Colts that they, and not the New England Serial Cheats, were going to the biggest game of the year, since it had lost the chance to a dastardly opponent. Instead, the league basked in the marquee match-up and one of the best games ever, and waited until now, four months later, with football as far out of mind as it can be, to announce that the New England Patriots, again, had cheated. Clever. Too clever.
I wrote a lot about this when it occurred, and had to put up with the predictable “innocent until proven guilty” crowd, the “it’s only a game ” crowd, the ” they would have won anyway” crowd, the “everybody cheats” crowd, the “it’s not like he invaded Iraq” crowd—essentially Barry Bonds defenders, Obama enablers, and Bill Clinton fans with football jerseys and Patriots beer mugs. Now I get the Hillary Clinton crowd, who will ask, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” The NFL can make billions being as corrupt as it is, maiming athletes and turning colleges into shams, because so many, many Americans value a visceral rush on winter Sundays over fairness, justice, and honesty.
1. Belichick is still responsible, and as I argued in the initial essays, he should be banned from the League. Or turned into a wedge of cheese: that’s as likely to happen. Nonetheless, this is his culture; Brady and the others were simply following the coach’s lead. The Patriots will continue to cheat until there is a leader at the helm who will not tolerate cheating. Fish-Rots-Head-Down.
2. Anything short of stripping the Patriots of their 2014 title will stand as an official endorsement of cheating.
3. The team should also be banned from next season’s play-offs.
4. Brady should be suspended for at least a season. That’s right, longer than wife beaters and child abusers, because in the context of football, on the field cheating is worse than either. They just degrade the game; cheating destroys the game’s value as sport, competition, and a cultural reference point.
5. Team owner Robert Kraft is essentially taking the Clinton lines of denial on Hillary’s e-mails and the Foundation’s acceptance of secret foreign cash and applying it to football, saying in a statement that continued to deny wrongdoing by his team,
“Throughout the process of this nearly four-month investigation, we have cooperated and patiently awaited its outcome. To say we are disappointed in its findings, which do not include any incontrovertible or hard evidence of deliberate deflation of footballs at the AFC Championship game, would be a gross understatement.”
In other words, “There’s no smoking gun! You’ll never prove it!”
6. Watch the NFL delay again, and then do as little as possible, showing no concern commensurate with the fact that a team cheated to get to the Super Bowl, and the game’s MVP was the one who engineered it. Just watch.