If you don't have integrity, you have nothing.  All of the money in the world can't buy it.  Henry Kravis

You Might be an Idiot (or a Patriots fan) if….

            Repetition makes the heart grow fonder.  That’s what psychologists say anyway.  It’s a type of brainwashing and it’s used every day in American politics and sports.   Watch Fox News and you will hear the same stories that aren’t true, but have been flooding the airwaves since the days of Rush Limbaugh.  And people actually believe them so we know it works.  I can’t tell you how many friends and relatives I’ve had to educate on topics that they are clearly, objectively wrong about. That’s why it’s good to be an independent.  You get to do a lot of educating.  Like the fallacy that the Republicans are fiscally conservative and the Democrats are fiscally liberal.  That’s a funny one.  I love the look of horror or disbelief when they found out the truth, supported overwhelmingly by statistical data.   (Look at the numbers for Reagan and W versus Clinton).  Oftentimes they even say, “I don’t believe that”, when I give them the numbers.   Sometimes they say the numbers are made up by “liberal” government workers.  They say the same thing about scientific evidence regarding evolution and global warming which are a huge lie by the scientific community that hates religion and pollution so much they decided to engage in a centuries old, worldwide conspiracy.  Anyway, the Patriots are the latest entrants in the, “Say the opposite of the truth over and over again and a bunch of fools will believe it” sweepstakes. 

            The Patriots in general, and Bill Belicheat and Robert Kraft specifically, have the least integrity of any organization in the history of the NFL.  Yes, even the Raiders have been trumped.  The Raiders were, for decades, the home to malcontents and fringe criminals.  They branded it.  Whatever one may think of the Raiders, they owned their reputation.  They weren’t hypocrites like the Patriots.  When Al Davis was asked about his philosophy, he smiled broadly and said, “Just Win Baby”.  Win at all costs is what he meant.  But all costs didn’t involve cheating.  It involved some physical play.  A few hits after the whistle, but nothing that attacked the fabric of fair play. The Raiders never lost a first round pick or had their quarterback suspended for cheating.  And let’s get this straight, if you are one of the morons who said it wasn’t cheating, it was “pushing the gray area of the law,” you’re either an idiot or a Patriots fan.  Or an idiot Patriots fan.   

          There are plenty of gray areas in rules.  This isn’t one of them.  The balls are to be inflated to no less than a certain amount.  It doesn’t say, “The balls shall be inflated to 12.5 to 13.5 PSI if you feel like it.”  It says they shall be, period.  If it had said something else, the ball boy wouldn’t have had to dip into the bathroom to deflate the balls as he had been doing for the entire year according to his text messages.  So for people to try the old, they just push the envelope, is to say that Aaron Hernandez just pushed the envelope when he asked Odin Lloyd to step out of the car and then shot him four times.   He committed murder and that’s that.  No pushing of an envelope.  And the Patriots employees and Brady did it knowingly.  There are texts that prove it undisputedly, unless you want to make the argument that these guys were living in a fantasy world when they were sending texts in May 2014, October 2014 and January 2015.  They discussed needles, inflation and deflation of footballs, Tom Brady giving them cash and autographed memorabilia for their efforts in deflating footballs, and how stressful it was and how much Brady appreciated them getting the balls ready in time.  If you want to make the argument that it was some made up game between equipment managers, and that 11 of the 12 Patriot balls just happened to turn up underinflated, then you’re an idiot or a Patriots fan.

            We understand the NFL’s reluctance, even in the face of proof that would win any type of court case, to suspend their poster child.  We understand the homers on BSPN and Robert Kraft saying, “Well he didn’t say it was 100% proof.”  They are invested in this.  It’s the same type of people who excused Barry Bonds and want to call him the home run king.  Unfortunatley, it’s the same kind of controversy that has killed Major League baseball.  Major League baseball will never struggle financially because they play so many games, but baseball has fallen from the American consciousness faster than a Roger Clemens steroid enhanced fastball.   The NFL needs to be really careful here.  The integrity of the game trumps everything else about the sport.  If people start to lose faith in the integrity of a game, they will leave. The Ray Rice incident and Goodell's failure to use any due diligence in investigating it didn’t affect the result of a game, but it was a huge PR black eye.  Then there was the Dallas Party Bus Miracle where the referees cheated, about as clearly as one could ever detect referee cheating, by picking up a clear penalty flag late in a contested playoff game, and providing no explanation.  I can’t say I’ve ever seen a referee in an NFL game simply pocket a flag without explanation and I’ve probably watched 10,000 NFL football games.  Nobody was terminated or even received a suspension that we can find.  The head of referees should have been fired as soon as the NFL found out he had been partying with Jerry Jones and the Cowboys executives, and the referee who picked up the flag should have been given an opportunity to explain himself and then he probably, depending on the explanation, should have been fired too. 

           In one of the more ridiculous let's push this thing under the rug episodes, the NFL also had a person on the Competition Committee, Falcons President Rich McKay, get caught red handed violating the most sacrosanct rule of the Competition Committee (the one about don’t cheat to win games) by piping in noise to illegally help his team win games. He was in charge of ensuring that teams didn't cheat, and he was cheating himself?  What happens when a cop goes on a call and gets caught stealing jewelry from the home he is sworn to protect?  He gets fired immediately.  He goes to jail.  His life as a protector of society is now over.  McKay (and keep in mind I’m a Falcons fan) should have been suspended for a year, the organization should have received the maximum fine for each violation over the past two years ($500,000 X 16, or $8,000,000) and they should have lost their first round pick in 2015.  Instead they lose a fifth round pick and Rich McKay returns to the Competition Committee in a few months! I'm surprised they didn't give him an autographed Tom Brady football too.

          Now the curious case of Ray Farmer, the African-American GM of the Browns, sits in stark contrast to the Rich McKay/Dallas Party Bus incidents.  In Farmer’s case he was found to have sent texts to the field during a game.  A very minor transgression, but a violation of the Competition Committee rules nonetheless.  I couldn’t sleep last night trying to come up with what Farmer could have possibly said that would have influenced the outcome of a game.  Pumping noise into a stadium so that the opposition’s quarterback has to use hand signals gives a team a significant advantage.  It’s one of the reasons team’s have much better home records. I get that. Buttering up the refs with strippers and liquor to get more favorable calls?  I can see how that has a direct impact on wins and losses.  But a GM sending a text to the coaches on the sideline?  Here’s what I could come up with for possible texts that Farmer sent:

Farmer:  “You guys suck.”

Farmer:  “You guys lick goat dung.”

Farmer:  “Hey sweetie, we meeting after the game in my car, right?’

Farmer:  “Call a sweep to the side where Watt is.  That guy's overrated.”

Farmer:  “Make my General Tso’s chicken hot, and don’t forget the extra fortune cookie.”

          That’s about all we could come up with.  I’m not sure how any of those could affect a game, but the NFL brought the hammer down on Farmer, suspending him for 4 games.  If he had been a white front office guy, like Rich McKay, we suspect that the punishment would have been a box of General Tso’s hot, without the extra fortune cookie and with a note attached from Goodell  that said, “Stay away from my girlfriend, biatch.  LOL.”   

          So anyway, back to the cheating Patriots and the one year suspension for Brady and Beli-cheat that would certainly follow if Brady was Cam Newton and not Tom Brady.  Keep in mind that when people were calling for Goodell’s job after the Ray Rice fiasco, his biggest supporter was none other than Robert Kraft.  Kraft  said Goodell was a great guy in spite of evidence to the contrary.  Of course, Kraft is no Jack Byrnes when it comes to reading people.  In 2012, shortly after Aaron Hernandez had executed two people, Kraft gave him a record contract.   Kraft referred to Hernandez as “really a first class guy.  Wow, this guy’s a good guy.”  Really. Wow! Brady not only cheated, he got caught lying about it.  Maybe 8 games if he had copped to it, but it has to be the whole season since it did it every game and lied about it.  Goodell has already established that the head coach must be suspended for the actions of his players, even if the head coach didn’t know what was going on.  Sean Peyton was suspended for an entire year for Bountygate when everyone agreed he didn’t know anything about it.  Of course, Goodell didn’t like the Saints owner, and he loves the Patriots.  But to rights, Beli-cheat has to be gone for the year.  He won’t be, we all agree, because the Commish treats his friends markedly different than he treats his enemies. 

           The other go-to line we’re hearing from certain Patriots fans/idiots, is that deflating the balls didn’t have an effect on games. It’s amazing that the major networks have so many people who have never played sports before.  For those of you who have ever thrown a football on the other hand, particularly an NFL football in the rain or cold weather, you know how daft these fortunate fools are.  I tell you what, give Brady a 16 PSI football and give me an 11 and I will wear him out in any throwing completion you choose.  Give me a 24-inch basketball rim and let Kyle Korver and Reggie Miller shoot on an 18-inch, and I will annihilate them both in a three-point shooting contest.  There is a reason baseballs are a certain size, and bats are a certain size, and it’s because to make it different gives an advantage.  The Patriots in essence changed the rules of the game, but only for their team.  It would be the same as if you only had to go 8 yards for a first down and your opponent 10, or you had 5 downs to get a first down while your opponent had 4.  It’s a huge advantage that affected everything from whether the Patriots would have even made the playoffs, to who they would have played.   In a recent study it was determined that the Patriots turnover ratio was so low at home compared to the rest of the league, that there had to be cheating.  Now we know that was true, and we know how important turnovers are.  And a few missed passes and the Patriots would have lost several more games.   People argue that, “Well you don’t know that.  It might not have affected the game.”  That’s my favorite response because the amateur debater has, unknowingly, just won my argument for me.  I reply with, “I agree, I don’t know for sure and neither do you, but since Brady was the one cheating you have the burden of proving it to me.  So go ahead.”  And then for a minute I feel like Perry Mason when the guy on the witness stand says, “I did it!  I killed her!  I loved her too much!”

         The Patriots are the most unethical organization in the NFL, but it’s good to be king, or at least be friends with the king.  We will see if the NFL does the right thing and can still salvage the integrity of the league.  If Brady and Beli-cheat get a year, plus a loss of a 2016 first round pick and the maximum fine for every game last season, it will at least be a start.  Those who argue anything else are either idiots or Patriots fans.