It is time. It is time to put this ridiculous story to rest, at least from a team perspective. The Patriots got hammered with the harshest punishment in the history of the league, which just isn't fair. Everyone expected a fight that never came because Kraft chose to protect the league (not mess with the cash machine) and accept the penalty that he really doesn't have to deal with. Bill Belichick is the one that loses the picks and doesn't know if he has his starting quarterback for the first month of the season, so the real losers in this whole situation are the fans, the coach, and Tom Brady. I'll ask the same questions I've been asking all along- why would draft picks be part of the punishment? How can a simple equipment tampering issue turn into the biggest punishment in the history of the league? Does the league really think that the Wells Report is "strong enough to hold up in court"?
Let's start with the Wells Report, one of the vaguest and most one-sided investigations money can buy. The report is littered with gray areas and proves that there was no definitive proof against the Patriots. The only thing they have was the "deflator" text message, but any good lawyer would fight that in court and win. Why isn't there more outrage regarding Walt Anderson and not only his mistakes but the Wells team basically saying they believe everything he says except for the one thing that would completely exonerate the Patriots? The fact that Walt Anderson never even wrote down the PSI levels shows that this whole thing was either an over site by the league that infuriated the Colts or a sting operation by the NFL that went horribly wrong when Anderson screwed up, which they ultimately covered up in the Wells Report.
If Kraft truly wanted to fight, he could have won. Yes, it would have been a financial investment and he would have enemies throughout the league, but ultimately the team would have been exonerated because there truly is and never was any real evidence that something happened. Kraft has to know this but he just didn't want to deal with the fight. If the NFL weren't run like a dictatorship, Kraft would've been able to appeal, but unfortunately the league has ALL the power and once a team punishment is handed down, that is the end of it. No appeal, accept your punishment and deal with it, no matter how ridiculous it may be.
Now that Kraft has backed down, commissioner/dictator Roger Goodell has started to speak to the media, taking advantage of his heightened perception in the public eye after the ugliness of domestic abuse that marred the NFL season. Goodell can now stand up on the stage like a big tough guy and pump his chest about "upholding the integrity of the game" while he lies through his teeth. We'll never know the truth of what happened in Foxboro that night because the league just won't say what they knew and still know now. There are emails, and there is proof that the Colts reached out to the league before the game, but of course the Ted Wells was told that the league will investigate their own issues and that Wells needs to focus solely on the Patriots; if that isn't the opposite of "independent" then I don't know what is.
Lastly, and there will be many who disagree, there is NO WAY Jim McNally took air out of 12 footballs in a bathroom stall in just under two minutes. What if he takes out too much? The refs state that they "lost" the balls, but McNally wasn't hiding anything when Wells looked at the security tapes. How is it fair for Wells to ASSUME that McNally went into the bathroom and did what he's accused of doing? There is no definitive proof that he did anything, and without proof, there is no case. There are just too many questions and not enough actual proof, but that didn't stop the NFL from using the Patriots as a distraction and slamming them with a penalty that will cost them two players over the next two years.
The equipment infraction that the Patriots are guilty of, in the past, was minimal was a small fine, and it never created a media circus. We never hear a word about these types of smaller issues until the Patriots are involved, then we never hear the end of it. The NFL cited "Spygate" as a reason for the heavy punishment, calling them "repeat offenders". Let's just put this out there- Spygate was just as overblown as this Deflategate fiasco. The Patriots filmed signals from the wrong area. That's it, nothing more, nothing less. Most fans don't realize this but filming signals isn't illegal. The NFL allows teams to do this, just not from where the Patriots were filming.
The Jets did the SAME EXACT THING in 2006 and nobody ever says a word about it. We here the idiotic "they burned the tapes" comments; yet Roger Goodell invited media members to watch and report what they saw on the videos. These are facts, not opinions. So why did the Patriots get crushed for getting caught? Because Goodell was mad that the Patriots ignored his memo and he wanted to prove he was the boss. Sound familiar to this situation? The reason why is it's the same exact thing. Goodell is trying to prove to the other owners that he'll lay the hammer down on his perceived "buddy owners" and there is no special treatment.
Why isn't anyone questioning Goodell's relationship with Steve Bisciotti, the owner of the Ravens? Last year, the Ravens were basically allowed to hide the facts in the Rice case and when they came to light, people wanted Goodell gone, but nobody ever spoke of his strong friendship with the Baltimore owner. When the tape came out, Goodell should have sent Wells in to find out what the Ravens knew. Why didn't that team lose picks or get fined? It's simple- domestic abuse would have sunk Goodell and he protected his real buddy, then used his perceived "pal" in Kraft to improve his q-rating amongst the fans. This was never about equipment or deflated balls, this is all about perception.
The fact that the league has taken two-1st round picks and a fourth round pick in an eight-year span is jarring, and it costs the Patriots at least two players that would have been significant additions. Belichick typically nails his first rounders, and to take two away in less than a decade is a huge blow. The Patriots have also had luck in the fourth round, but they lose one of those too in the 2017 draft. So why does the NFL take away these picks? Aren't the fines and the suspensions enough? The answer is simple- parity.
New England is a team that has dominated the league for 15 years, and in the age of free agency, that is NOT what the league wants. The NFL wants new teams to win their divisions every year; problem is, like in all sports, some teams are managed smart and stay consistent while others are poorly managed and stay that way. It starts at the top, and some ownership groups simply don't get it. Agree or disagree with Kraft, but the guy has a proven track record and it is hard to argue with his results. If the NFL has an opportunity to punish their most dominant team, they're going to hit them where it hurts- overall depth and talent.
In the end, we have a mess that makes the league look unorganized, guarded to a flaw, and not trustworthy. It makes the flagship franchise look like cheats who are skirting the rules to win, when the truth is they are playing the same game as everyone else. Once again Roger Goodell overstepped and although he may think he's looking good now, liars ALWAYS get caught eventually.