We haven’t even gotten to Arizona yet and the mission is already lost. Mike Wilbon of ESPN is calling for the Patriots to vacate the Super Bowl, Calipari-style. Others are saying that Bill Belichick should be suspended. We are waiting to learn whether NFL commissioner Roger Goodell — a Robert Kraft frat brother — will punish Belichick and/or the Patriots before the Super Bowl.
The Patriots can win another championship Feb. 1 in Glendale, Ariz. Belichick can join Chuck Noll as the only coaches with four Lombardi Trophies, and Tom Brady can join Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw as the only quarterbacks with four rings.
But the most important thing — the Patriot legacy — is lost. The Patriots and their fans will never win the “best ever” argument. Everything is tainted. Footballs (reportedly) have been doctored, headlines have been written, and opinions have been formed.
Locally, the Patriots are revered. Nationally, they are loathed and branded as cheaters, and once again they have handed the hammer to their legion of enemies.
We still don’t know where “Deflategate” lands. The NFL has yet to disclose its findings and announce penalties (if any) against the Patriots.