Here's my final take on Tom Brady and Deflategate:
If Brady wasn't as guilty of football tampering, then why did he destroy his phone the day before he was set to testify in front of the special NFL investigator? Brady's excuse was that he said he destroys his phones periodically. But in this case, he just happened to destroy the phone on the day he's supposed to meet with Ted Wells?
Not buying it. He wanted to destroy any evidence of texts that linked him with the two equipment managers involved in the case, one of whom referred to himself as the "Deflatinator."
See, here's the problem. For the last 15 years, the New England Patriots _ or Cheatalots, as I like to call them _ have done whatever they wanted to do, because they feel like they can get away with anything and that they're above the law.
You name it, they've done it. Videotaped other team's practices, circumvented the salary cap to get top players, videotaped other teams on the sidelines to pick up signals and signs, killing off a team's walkie-talkie service during games, you name it. The Cheatalots cheat a lot because they can.
Or so it seemed. See, this time, the pretty boy quarterback with the supermodel wife cheated and got caught. And instead of just coming forward and admitting he was cheating and got caught, he did what all cheaters do _ denied it.
Just like all the steroid users in baseball. They didn't do anything wrong. They used someone else's syringe, like their cousin's or their personal trainers. They never did performance enhancement drugs. Shame on anyone who even thought that.
Until the evidence became so clear, like in the cases of Roger Clemens (who is still in denial mode), Barry Bonds and most recently Alex Rodriguez, that they had no other choice but accept the fate handed to them.
No one is even insinuating that steroid use and deflating footballs are on the same level. Not even close.
But the denial is the same. Brady first tried to play stupid when confronted about the deflated footballs, saying that he didn't know anything about it. Then, when the two equipment guys stepped forward and told NFL investigators that of course Brady knew, then he changed his tune a little.
And then he had the audacity to go to his hearing, first with Wells, and later with Commissioner Roger Goodell, that he didn't do anything wrong, when he was handed evidence of the contrary.
For good measure, Brady said he destroyed the cell phone with the text messages on it. Gee, now there's some coincidence.
There's no question that the other NFL owners pressured Goodell (whom they pay an astonishing $45 million a year) to handle the Brady case with utmost importance and severity, because frankly, the rest of the NFL is sick and tired of the Cheatalots getting away with everything. I can't say they get away with murder, because Aaron Hernandez is proof that even a Cheatalot can't get away with murder. It might work for Viola Davis and her students on that silly ABC show, but it doesn't work in real life.
Goodell had no recourse but to throw the book at Brady and he did. Four games for deflating footballs? That's pretty hefty.
But Brady isn't getting four games simply for taking the air out of balls during games. Hell, if he fessed up to it when he was first accused, he would have received a $25,000 fine and a slap on the back of his hand, saying, "Naughty, naughty, Pretty Boy."
The reason why Brady is getting slammed is the audacity he showed by not cooperating with the investigation, then trying to destroy evidence. And if you're not guilty, as Brady still is in denial mode over, then why go to those lengths? Why not cooperate and prove your innocence?
Goodell had to do something drastic with Brady, because frankly, the other owners who pay his ridiculously gaudy salary wouldn't have stood for it any other way. Brady should take his four-game suspension and fine and slink off into the sunset. He should come back rested and tanned in October, ready to take on the world.
But to continue to deny that this all took place is silly and frankly tarnishing Brady's legacy as an all-time great. Right now, he's known as an all-time cheat, four Super Bowls or not. No one ever accused Johnny Unitas or Joe Montana of cheating. Their legacies are intact and in good standing. Brady will forever be known as the cheater who got caught deflating footballs.
Brady should take his suspension like a man, because unlike what he professes, he knows he did something wrong.
Now, as for the complete clusterf**k known as the New York Mets, can anyone explain to me what actually happened Wednesday night?
Right after the first pitch was thrown, reputable sportswriters like Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record and Joel Sherman of the New York Post were reporting that the Mets had indeed traded injured pitcher Zach Wheeler and infielder Wilmer Flores to the Milwaukee Brewers for All-Star centerfielder Carlos Gomez.
Soon after, the flood gates opened. My phone pinged with updates about the trade more than pictures of Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair went viral. Seriously, I received about 30 different notifications from Facebook, Twitter, instant messages, you name it. The trade was done. It was official.
Except there was Flores still playing shortstop for the Mets. The crowd at CitiField knew Flores was traded, because they gave him a much deserved standing ovation for what appeared to be his last at-bat, one where he grounded out to short. It had to be the first time a baseball player received a standing ovation for a ground out.
Flores then was visibly upset as he went back out onto the field. The 23-year-old kid has spent his entire baseball life with the Mets, going back to when he was a 16-year-old kid in the Dominican Republic. He was upset that he was being traded.
Mets manager Terry Collins then talked to Flores before the bottom of the ninth inning, and off Flores went to the clubhouse, apparently to be forever replaced by the legendary Ruben Tejada.
And then, after the game, Collins said that he knew nothing of a trade. It seemed ridiculous that every person in the building knew of the trade except the manager of the team. A few minutes later, Mets GM Sandy Alderson appeared in front of the media to say that there was no trade and that any trade was off.
Say what? What in God's name happened?
Now, as a member of the media, I can tell you this: Klapisch and Sherman are impeccable. So is Jon Heyman, who reported the trade a few minutes after Klap and Sherman. Their reputations as reporters are stellar.
Could they be wrong? It happens. But that would be if just one reported the trade. All three? Highly unlikely.
Someone in the Mets' front office leaked the trade before it was official and it went viral. But I'm risking my own reputation by saying that trade definitely happened, because there's no way all three would have missed it. No way in hell.
What did take place is that the Mets look once again like a second-rate organization and left their young shortstop out on the field to have an emotional breakdown for the entire world to see on television. There were already jokes this morning involving Flores and Tom Hanks' memorable line from "A League of Our Own," when he uttered "There's no crying in baseball."
If there was a trade in place, Flores should have been in the clubhouse, far away from the bright lights. He should not have been paraded out there for the world to see him emote like that. And for Collins and Alderson to boldly state that they knew nothing of a trade and that no trade existed, that's just a complete crock.
Of course there was some trade. Who pulled the trade back remains to be seen? But I'll stake my entire 34-year career on the fact that there was some agreement between the two clubs, that agreement was leaked to the media and then that agreement was pulled back in the late stages of the game.
And the one victim of it all? Wilmer Flores. Sure, professional baseball is a business. We all understand that. But there's no way he should have been left out there to fry. Shame on the Mets. Once again. They really know how to screw up everything, don't they?
You can read more of my work at www.hudsonreporter.com, www.theobserver.com and from time to time at www.dailyrecord.com.