The Patriots Earned Their Asterisk *

Lombardi's Way The Patriots Earned Their Asterisk *

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There’s really no denying the greatness of Tom Brady.

There’s no denying the brilliance of Bill Belichick.

There’s no denying the wealth of Robert Kraft and his ability to lure a girlfriend less than half his age.

And if you ever doubt any of the above, follow Peter King on Twitter. He constantly provides updates on all Patriots’ conquests.

"Transformers: Age Of Extinction" New York PremiereIn fairness, the Patriots without question are the closest thing to a dynasty since the dawn of the new millennium, having won four of a possible 16 Super Bowls. That’s quite an accomplishment in the era of the salary cap and the consistency has its roots in the legendary coach-quarterback duo of Belichick and Brady.

Belichick’s exploration of all boundaries of the game helps him to uncover loopholes and forgotten or ignored nuances that can help give a competitive advantage. To borrow from the Starship Enterprise, he boldly goes where no coach has gone before.

Brady is a talented overachiever. Those are rare. Ray Lewis and Michael Jordan come to mind. He has an insatiable desire to win and that ambition propels a work ethic that targets championships. His batting average is .250. Pretty impressive!

Chris Davis is envious.

Yet the accomplishments of both coach and quarterback are forever tainted.

Both, perhaps driven by their unquenchable thirst for victories have bent the rules, probably cheated and consequently their accomplishments come with an indelible asterisk that will never go away.

But expect the league and Roger Goodell to do their very best to try and make it go away.

Now that the Patriots are champions, #DeflateGate has more meaning than ever and the public and its conduit – the media, will demand answers. And the answers need to be believable, finite and devoid of any doubt.

There can be no hint of foul play or shady clandestine handshakes that point towards a cover up.

But don’t hold your breath.

During his State of the NFL address on Friday, Commissioner Roger Goodell was questioned by CNN’s Rachel Nichols on the investigation of #DeflateGate.

“When you do something like hire an outside investigator like Ted Wells into the Patriots investigation, you’re still paying him and Robert Kraft who owns the Patriots is paying you,” she said. “What steps can you guys take in the future to mitigate some of those conflict-of-interest issues?”

It’s a fair question, a question that backed Goodell into a corner.

His response was telling.

“Well, Rachel, I don’t agree with you in a lot of the assumptions you make in your question. I think we have had people who have had uncompromising integrity,” Goodell said. “I think we have done an excellent job of bringing outside consultants in.”

And then comes Goodell’s dagger intended for Nichols.

“Somebody has to pay [the investigators], Rachel. So unless you’re volunteering, which I don’t think you are, we will do that.”

The dagger missed and revealed Goodell’s disingenuous tendencies.

The Commissioner ineffectively dodged the question and then had the audacity to point towards paying investigators as a potential issue.

Here is an incredibly wealthy league, a business extended an anti-trust exemption and shockingly classified as a nonprofit tax-exempt organization, whining about having to pay investigators to preserve its own integrity.

The pompousness and smugness of this league is staggering!

We’ve heard how studies are being conducted by Columbia University focusing upon the physics of deflated balls given certain atmospheric conditions. Yet Robert Kraft is a big benefactor of the university.

IMG_1029Why not have the investigation handled by those without ANY ties to the NFL or the Patriots? If there were nothing to hide, wouldn’t such an investigation be deemed more impartial and therefore purer?

Failure to do so just opens the door for more questions, more doubt and more distrust.

Following SpyGate, Roger Goodell had all evidence destroyed presumably to protect the league’s integrity if those videotapes ever landed in righteous hands.

But that destruction just left more doubt and dashed Goodell’s believability.

Nichols’ question and Goodell’s failure to answer leave even more doubt.

#DeflateGate will eventually go away just like the villains in The Sopranos and Sons of Anarchy “went away”.

The NFL’s investigation of itself will produce nothing of substance.

Why?

Because to reveal a potential can of worms that might unearth some unsightly things that would obliterate the game’s integrity. It might also place it’s cushy anti-trust exemption status at risk with Congress and it could cost hundreds of millions with the networks if a substantive portion of the viewing public becomes apathetic towards the NFL.

All of it undermines what is most important to the league — MAKING MONEY!

The Commish and his cronies will take a few weeks, perhaps months and then tell us all that #DeflateGate was an isolated mistake that obviously had no bearing on the game in which the deflated balls were discovered.

Yet the stain of cheating given the franchise’s history, will never go away.

And just like MLB stars such as Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriquez, the mention of the Patriots’ greatness will be questioned, even doubted.

It didn’t have to be this way.

In the end we’ve all been robbed because the Patriots may have realized all of their accomplishments without the cheating.

But we’ll never know.

And there’s just no denying the asterisk.

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and CBS Sports 1300. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, Guinness, Orange Crushes and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi

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