With Tom Brady's appeal set to kick off tomorrow morning, the wonderful offseason storyline that has now lasted longer than an actual NFL season known only as DeflateGate is once again about to take center stage on the national media landscape. It was a nice little break for a while, there was some actual football news to focus on, and all of the non-sports news stations actually focused on things that truly matter as opposed to 0.5 PSI, but all that is about to change over the next 24-48 hours. If you haven't prepared yourself for that mentally, I suggest you start steeling yourself now.
As Patriots fans, we're obviously hoping that Roger Goodell listens to all the "new evidence" he has expressed a willingness to consider, realizes that he messed up yet again, and overturns Brady's suspension. At this point, it seems that Tommy B is looking for a complete exoneration and a complete overturning of his suspension, which would be pretty damn sweet. And if you look at the facts, the reports by several independent sources, and the scientists who took a casual interest in the issue, there's plenty of reason for optimism; after all, if the science behind The Wells Report is thrown out, all that's left is a video of a guy going to take a leak and a page of text messages involving the word "deflator" with no real evidence of anything being deflated. If that's enough to get conviction, it would be the equivalent of someone getting jailed for bank robbery just because he texted his friend that he'd be rich if he robbed a bank.
(Note to self: clean out text messages.)
However, there's something we should all keep in mind as we pick up our respective weapons and prepare to resume our defense of the wall. It may not be what any of us wants to hear, but it's what's going to happen, and the sooner we prepare ourselves, the better off we're going to be.
There is only one possible outcome of Tom Brady's appeal, and it's not hard to see:
The New England Patriots are cheaters.
Whether or not that's actually the case, whether there was even the slightest ounce of foul play afoot, is irrelevant. As many of us have been saying from the very start of this process, the damage has already been done regarding Tom Brady and the Patriots. In the court of public opinion, he was 1,000% guilty about 45 seconds after the AFC Championship Game ended, because the concept of a guilty, cheating Tom Brady is fun. Whether or not Brady gets his suspension lifted is completely ancillary to the narrative that nothing the Pats have ever done is legitimate, every win they ever generated is tainted, and Tom Brady is a scumbag. Nobody cares if the Patriots did anything or not. Nobody cares if Tom Brady is innocent or guilty. The bottom line is that, for pretty much everyone outside of the New England area, the world is a better, brighter, happier place when the Patriots are in some kind of trouble, whether it be losing games, players being lost to injury/free agency, or potential rule violations. So when something like this comes along that allows fans to have an absolute blast ripping the Patriots and tearing them down, nothing is going to stop them from doing just that. So if any of you think that the hailstorm of hate is going to go away should Roger Goodell realize that he doesn't really have grounds to justify the harshness of the punishment he handed down, I hate to be the bearer of bad news.
The only real question, therefore, is how exactly the negative attention the Patriots receive will be presented. Are the Patriots cheaters because the suspension sticks? Or are the Patriots cheaters because Goodell and Kraft are besties and our beloved Commissioner doesn't want the team he loves more than any other team to be without their pwetty widdle qwarterback for a few games? We'll find out soon enough. My guess is that Goodell has painted himself into a corner here and won't be able to overturn his decision without looking even more incompetent, so this thing is going to go all the way to court - but that's just speculation. I have absolutely no idea what's going to happen, just as I have absolutely no idea what happened (if anything) to those footballs, just as nobody has any idea what really happened.
But again, knowledge doesn't matter. All that matters is that we all watch sports because we enjoy it, and for a large number of football fans out there, a very large part of enjoying sports is watching bad things happen to the Patriots. Don't expect that to stop in any capacity, no matter what the next few days/weeks/months brings.
If you have fun getting into it with Tweeters, Facebookers, and Internet Commenters, then by all means keep doing what you're doing; we all have every right, Pats lovers and haters alike, to say and do whatever we want in order to maximize our happiness and ensure that the NFL remains what it's supposed to be: a fun hobby and a great way to spend some free time. But if you're the kind of person who finds him/herself fuming over the Tweets and the snide remarks and the journalists desperate for pageviews (which, by the way, is exactly what the trolls are hoping happens), I'd advise you to focus your attention elsewhere for a while - maybe on something like this instead. Sure, people will call you delusional with your head in the sand, but who cares? Let them do what makes them happy while you do what makes you happy.
As for what makes me happy - it's knowing that my team matters to the point where the amount of air in the footballs they use becomes global news. That helps me sleep really, really well at night. And if I'm lucky, one day I'll be such a great sportswriter that there will be a six month, several million dollar investigation over the amount of ink in my pen or the level of battery charge in my laptop.
More probable than not that will never happen...but hey, there have been much larger reports on far more ridiculous things.
Like the air pressure in a football, for example.