The instant takes on Bradygate have been constant, and hot. The NFL was too mean to him, and he wasn’t properly cooperative, and the Patriots were lousy cheaters again, and why did he get twice as many games as Ray Rice and the Spygate Belichick, and Roger Goodell is hearing the appeal, and WHAT THE HELL IS THE DEAL WITH LOSING THE FOURTH ROUND PICK?
But you whittle away the brush and get down to the rotten trunk, you come to the realization that we as a society don’t do well when everyone’s untrustworthy – including the 31 teams that haven’t been caught deflating anything.
The NFL is a band of brigands and always has been. All the arglebargle about the integrity of the game hits a nonsense wall as soon as a player finds his way to the combine. The NFL is a monument to get-it-done-no-matter-the-cost, and sportsmanship and adherence to the rulebook is for saps.
That’s what the Patriots believed, believe today and will believe forever. It was a misdemeanor until they got caught, at which point it became multiple felonies, and already the two equipment guys who served Brady have been suspended without pay en route to what will likely be a quiet firing at a properly quiet later time.
The NFL league office is, in its own way, a band of soulless pragmatists. Roger Goodell is wobbling about without any real sense of how to do anything about anything until he has consulted the time-honored social media known as wetting one’s finger and holding it into the wind. Having failed repeatedly to establish a reputation as a fair, impartial and wise giver of judgments, he can’t get anything right, so he settles for the path of least revulsion.
And gets that wrong too.
The football fans of New England are a band of shrieking harpies, claiming a level of victimization that is unbecoming even for old-time Raider fans. The “They’re picking on us because they hate how good we are” argument was stupid when the officiating-conspiracy arguments were in vogue, and they are stupid now. Even the cries of “they didn’t prove anything” is an adjunct of the Lance Armstrong “he never tested positive” argument.
And the media and miscellaneous free-range yapmeisters who keep explaining this in terms of “legacies” keep missing the point here. Legacies are fluid things; they must be since we keep re-evaluating people’s legacies all the time. Brady has had several legacies in his career; so has Bill Belichick, and so has Bob Kraft. Why, Roger Goodell is working on his third . . . er, fourth . . . uhh, fifth legacy, and he’s still in his first decade on national opprobrium.
The fact is, legacies don’t belong to the people they are assigned to. Tom Brady is many things to many people – champion, underdog, fashionista, tucker, moral exemplar, all-around cute guy – and for some people, “air-sucking cheat” is now one of them.
And everyone involved in this hilarious “probably” degrade-o-thon has one more line on the Etch-a-Sketch/book jacket walks the same walk Brady is walking now. The NFL is not shamed, but it is embarrassed and mocked again, and let’s be honest here – by now they should all be used to it.