Friday, September 4, 2015

The True Victims of "DeflateGate"

By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

It's over.

Brady is free, Goodell is embarrassed, and all of New England is tasting sweet redemption for its Golden Boy and prized franchise.

Lost in all of this are the real victims of "DeflateGate:" Fans of every other team.

Not because Tom Brady will be allowed to play on opening night. That should have never been in question. Plus, did anyone really think Brady's suspension would affect New England's season in a real way? The Patriots were going to win at least two of those games he was out, then win 11 or 12 to take home that garbage division, and enter the playoffs with business running as usual.

No, fans of other teams have truly been wronged because the NFL has given Patriots fans- easily the most spoiled fan base in the NFL the last two decades- a sense of victimization.

It's not enough that they get to brag that Brady and Belichick have won four Super Bowls, or six AFC championships, or the division 12 of the last 14 years, now these people can claim "underdog" status after the league perpetuated a witch hunt against their beloved signal caller.

And you know what, they're not wrong.

After the league had coddled the Patriots at every turn for 15 years, commissioner Roger Goodell and the rest of the league office lost their collective mind this offseason.

Not only did they decide to suspend Tom Brady four games for a minor equipment infraction (the actual penalty should have been a $25,000 fine for the team), they also smacked the Patriots with a $1 million fine and, most importantly, docked them first and fourth round picks in next year's NFL Draft.

In actuality, those draft picks are the only punishment that matter since a million bucks is nothing to the Pats and, as I said above, New England is going to be a Super Bowl contender either way.

The league also disallowed the "trick plays" New England used against Baltimore in the playoffs, and Goodell, himself, heard Brady's appeal of the punishment he handed down.

Come on NFL! The Patriots get to win everything on the field, then when there's a chance to catch them cheating, you go for the death sentence when a speeding ticket is more appropriate.

You've given these people more fuel!

"Even the NFL can't beat us!"

"Everyone's out to get us, but you can't stop the 'Patriot Way!'"

If Goodell would have just done the right thing and issued a fine, the question of whether or not Brady cheated (which the court did not rule on, by the way) would still be up for debate, but now it isn't even an issue. The only issue is whether or not the NFL led a smear campaign against the noble Patriots (ugh), and sullied the good name of honest Tom (double ugh).

The point is, the Patriots probably did something wrong (not saying he intentionally took the pressure below the legal level, but let's be real, Tom told them to take a little air out. No way some "rogue" employee lets air out of those balls without Tom knowing), but that no longer matters. The Patriots have become (gasp) sympathetic figures, and I think we all know these people don't deserve your sympathy.

So, get ready for a year of "Deflate these" jokes (only funny when Gronk does them), and talk of how the league is out for revenge EVERY TIME a call goes against New England. I live in Massachusetts and can already imagine the talk radio segments for the first time the Pats get called for holding.

"Hey, we've got Bobby from Woburn on the line, what's going on Bobby?"

"I'm great guys, but honestly, would they have called holding against ANY OTHER TEAM! The league office is full of PATRIOT HATERS that are mad because we win THE RIGHT WAY!"

This will literally be every call on the Sports Hub and WEEI next Friday morning after New England beats Pittsburgh by 21. They'll win big, celebrate last year's Super Bowl victory and still get to play the victim. We all know it's coming!

The NFL screwed this up royally and deserves the backlash its receiving, while Patriots fans deserve the chance to gloat after enduring the most nonsensical "scandal" in American sports history.

But the rest of us don't deserve this.

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