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This Take Just SINGED MY EYEBROWS

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1961+Topps+Whitey+FordAbove: CHEATER!  Smash Hall of Fame Plaque! Vacate World Series Championships Immediately!

Unfrozen Caveman Sportswriter Bill Plashcke, everyone:

It turns out, Tom Brady’s cellphone wasn’t the only thing that was destroyed.

So, too, was any remaining shard of belief in his competitive integrity, every last piece blown to smithereens with 10,000 text messages and one giant lie.

Does anybody still believe the NFL’s most celebrated player didn’t purposely deflate footballs in an attempt to gain an advantage during last season’s NFL playoffs?

Does anybody still think his legacy should not include the word “cheater”?

Brady was actually lucky Tuesday when the NFL upheld his four-game suspension. In the wake of the league’s accompanying revelation that Brady ordered the destruction of a cellphone that was one of the centerpieces of the investigation, he is fortunate Commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t double the penalty to eight games. Or more.

THE CHEATER WAS LUCKY DADDY GOODELL DIDN’T SUSPEND HIM ALL OF THE GAMES.

Let us return to the Wells Report, for this rather crucial point:

It’s possible that the actual numbers suggest no tampering at all. Which could be the biggest problem with the 243-page report.

Here’s where we try (key word: try) to take something that’s pretty complicated and make it somewhat understandable.

First, the officials had two pressure gauges available — and those pressure gauges generated very different measurements.

One gauge had a Wilson logo on the back. The other didn’t. One had an obviously crooked needle. The other didn’t.

The gauge with the Wilson logo and the longer, crooked needle typically generated higher readings, in the range of 0.3 to 0.45 PSI.

The measurements taken at halftime of the AFC title game by the two available gauges demonstrated this reality. Here’s the gap in PSI for each of the 11 Patriots footballs, based on the two gauges: (1) 0.3 PSI; (2) 0.35 PSI; (3) 0.35 PSI; (4) 0.3 PSI; (5) 0.35 PSI; (6) 0.35 PSI; (7) 0.45 PSI; (8) 0.45 PSI; (9) 0.4 PSI; (10) 0.4 PSI; and (11) 0.45 PSI.

Second, referee Walt Anderson doesn’t recall which gauge he used to measure PSI at the start of the game.

The absence of a documentation regarding the air pressure in the Patriots footballs prior to kickoff can be justified by Anderson’s clear recollection that he ensured each ball was set to 12.5 PSI. However, Anderson doesn’t clearly recall whether he used the gauge that generates the higher measurement or the one that generates the lower measurement.

This is important, of course, because the evidence that the Patriots were using underinflated balls is rather underwhelming. And second, it makes clear that everyone considered the rulebook inflation levels a trivial issue before an organization tired of repeatedly getting the crap beaten out of it by a much better team decided to whine about it. (Although, in fairness, the time they spent whining about the inflation levels of footballs in a game they lost 385-7 was time they weren’t spending trading first-round picks for sub-replacement-level running backs, so perhaps it reflects a determination to do something to improve the team that doesn’t involve falling ass-backwards into Andrew Luck.) The refs can’t even be bothered to measure the levels of the footballs correctly, and we’re going to pretend that this is an offense serious enough to warrant a 4-game suspension and forfeited first round draft picks, rather than the fine the rules actually mandate? And Brady should get an extra four games because he wouldn’t allow the league to go on a fishing expedition through his cell phone because it didn’t have the goods to prove that he even committed the offense for which he was given a vastly disproportionate punishment? Please.

Would I be surprised to find out that Brady sought an edge by using footballs inflated to under the legal limit? Of course not. And also, offensive linemen who try to get away with marginal holds are worse than Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot put together and should have CHEATER branded on their foreheads. Can I have my LA Times column now please?

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