You knew they were coming, America. The second the Patriots got busted for doctoring footballs, you knew the TAKENAMI would rush in. And VERILY IT HAS COME TO PASS. Oh, people. Oh, this is my Christmas. These takes are so pure in their stridency, so firm in their conviction that ROGER GOODELL MUST ACT… I feel like someone just handed me a bag of pharmaceutical cocaine. This is the uncut shit… straight from the take factory. All these guys saw a hot take sitting right in the middle of a bear trap and wandered directly into it. My nipples are rock hard just looking at all the open browser tabs. Where do we even start? Has Mitch Albom written to his children about this yet? OOOOH, let's go with Bob Kravitz, who wastes no time in calling for Bill Belichick to be fired…
If Patriots owner Robert Kraft has an ounce of integrity, he will fire Bill Belichick immediately for toying with the integrity of the game for the second time in his otherwise magnificent career…
[cue dramatic chipmunk]
That's right, folks. Kravitz isn't afraid to drop the BOMB right from the get go. No fine. No suspension. We're talking about kicking Belichick directly to the curb. Otherwise, what does that say about our league to our CHILDREN? Has Mister Kraft no integrity?! Why, I simply can't believe that an NFL owner would fail to act honorably!
If Roger Goodell has an ounce of integrity…
Wait. Stop. We can stop right there, actually. This entire shitshow of a season has happened because Roger Goodell always wants to look like he has integrity, and because stupid people out there EXPECT him to have it. Why do I need anyone in football to have integrity? Twenty-two guys are out on a field mashing their brains into one another. Is there really a right way to go about any of this?
…he will not only fine Belichick and take away draft choices, but suspend the head coach for the upcoming Super Bowl.
Please God, let that happen. Please let Goodell be stupid enough to cry out, "My God! America needs me more than ever!" and then suspend Belichick for the Super Bowl. I will never stop laughing. Literally. I will curl into a ball and cry with laughter until I have puked my guts out and died. It would be the best way to go.
Does this sound excessive?
IF ROGER GOODELL HAS ANY HONOR HE WILL DRAG BELICHICK INTO THE SEA AND WEIGH HIM DOWN. Sound excessive? MAYBE. But think about this rationally, gang!
Let's be honest about this: If the balls were properly inflated this past Sunday, the Patriots would have won…um…45-7.
I love that Kravitz throws this in here and then glances right over the fact that he just undermined his own argument against excessive punishment. That's a solid sportswriter move. "Now, does any of this matter? No. Now let me tell you why it DOES matter."
And either Kraft or Goodell have to do something very dramatic to make it clear that this kind of nonsense will not be tolerated.
I feel like this is the essence of Roger Goodell's job description now, as if someone handed him a sheet of paper when he first started and it said, "Do not tolerate things. Send strong messages." And then he ate 12 bananas and hurled his poop at the wall and nodded vigorously. Football has become a drone war between micromanager coaches looking to outmaneuver each other at every turn. I can't believe one of them would skirt the rules to get an edge! WE CANNOT HAVE TOLERANCE FOR THIS.
Winning without honor, without integrity, is not winning.
It's losing. Unless you win, in which case it feels like winning but losers will say you didn't win because you lost in the game of ETHICS.
Kraft needs to do the right thing. Goodell needs to do the right thing. Belichick should not be coaching in the Super Bowl, or worse.
He should die. He should have a steel rod inserted into his butt and he should be slowly turned over a spit with a blend of 60 Peruvian herbs and spices. Again, we find the football culture obsessed with the idea of RIGHTNESS, as if the world could ever be a truly fair place. It's not enough to fine Belichick a million bucks and strip away a second rounder (he would trade it for 90 seventh-rounders anyway). That's not enough of a MESSAGE. We must get this right by going completely overboard.
But we are only beginning with the takes. Here is the inevitable Florio take:
In addition to rectifying any potential impact on game integrity, the NFL also will hope to deter others from committing similar violations in the future. Which means that the punishments, if any, will be aimed in part at sending a message to anyone else who would be inclined to do anything to get an unfair edge.
This is a common refrain: the use of excessive punishment as deterrent. The LEAGUE can't possibly allow this to happen again, and so the punishment must be DEATH, or something equally unsavory. Never mind that gamesmanship will always happen when people have jobs and money at stake. In the football culture, people believe there's always some ideal punishment out there that will put the crisis to bed for good. Suspend Ray Rice forever and we'll get rid of domestic violence forever too! This is delusional. It's beyond delusional. It's straight blindness.
By the way, somehow Pats fans are handling this even worse. We go now to CNN, because CNN is the official entry point for national stupidity:
In fact, at this point in my life, I essentially do only three things: 1) Anchor at CNN, 2) help raise twin 7-year-old boys and 3) root for Boston sports teams. And if I am being honest, the one I am best at is No. 3. I am a really good Boston sports fan. There are few better.
OH FOR FUCK'S SAKE. Even now, Boston fans can't help but tell you how good they are at being Boston fans. What is wrong with you people?
And the Patriots are ruining all my hard work…
What hard work? You just watched them on TV.
…debasing my skills…
What skills? You suck at everything.
…and tainting the hours upon hours of joy that fandom gave me.
Well now, you wouldn't be a Boston fan if you didn't find a way to smuggle a hefty dose of self-pity in with all the cool shit your sports teams have done over the past decade. "Oh, my teams were-ah so good. BUT I CAN'T FACKIN' ENJOY IT LIFE WILL NEVAH BE THE SAME!"
For all the Patriots playoff games this year, my sons and I have all donned our No. 12 Tom Brady jerseys.
NO NOT THE CHILDREN… THE TAINT IS SMEARED ACROSS THEIR LITTLE BODIES
We wore them because Brady is so darn good, so darn handsome and so full of the values of hard work and perseverance that you want your sports icons to embody.
Dude, he ditched a pregnant woman to go fuck a supermodel. Let's cool it on the VALUES shit. You don't know that guy.
Or so we thought.
DUN DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN
Did he have any knowledge or any involvement in deflating footballs? Oh God, I hope not.
If he did, that would be the greatest tragedy of our times! Like a MILLION Hindenburgs exploding at once, only they're all filled with puppies! EXPLODING PUPPIES EVERYWHERE BECAUSE TOM BRADY LIED TO US.
But wait… I need more! More takes! More irrational overreaction! Oh, I know! Let's see what Gregg Doyel said, because he overreacts to everything!
With very few exceptions, people can be divided into various either/or categories: Employed or unemployed. Smoker or nonsmoker.
Black or white. Good or evil. Lefty or righty. If life has taught me anything, it's that people can be put into convenient boxes and have NO SHADING of any kind. Everyone knows this, except for the evil people because they are evil and only evil.
Cheater or not a cheater.
Belichick's a cheat.
WHOA. He's in that cheater box! That's… like… his thing! He can't be a not-cheater now that he's a cheater.
It's what they do.
Now then, is that a definitive statement that Bill Belichick or the Patriots cheated the Colts on Sunday? Nope. It is not.
"Cheaters cheat, unless they didn't cheat, in which case… WELL THEY'RE STILL CHEATIN' CHEATERS."
First, any idea how easy it is to deflate a football?
It requires one little needle.
MY GOD. IT'S LIKE HAVING THE NUKE BUTTON RIGHT AT YOUR BEDSIDE.
Second, any idea how awkward it feels to write this story from here, in Indianapolis, as if deflated balls might be the reason this city's team lost on Sunday? The footballs aren't the reason.
He's just like Kravitz! "Hey, here's a thing that didn't make a difference in the game. But what if it HAD?"
Third: What if? What if the NFL finds that the Patriots were in fact using a football that was deflated below regulation levels? Maybe the NFL won't be able to determine when or how it happened. What then? I'll tell you what should happen:
The Patriots should be removed from the Super Bowl.
it has to be said somewhere
It so didn't, but you go, boy!
A fine? Is that the main punishment any team guilty of deflating the football should get in this circumstance? Man, fine this.
BOOM. You think this can all be solved with MONEY? MONEY THIS. Doyel is done fucking around, people. Only he has the balls to call for someone else to do something drastic about this on his behalf. That's the kind of brave stand I expect from my hometown columnist.
Who else we got? Oh, how about this guy, who apparently never saw either Dallas playoff game?
Goodell and his league have lost a ton of credibility over the past months, but there has been no reason to believe the games themselves weren't on the up-and-up.
Or this guy?
Even if Belichick had no clue this was being done (if it was being done), it will be painted as a lack of institutional control.
No more scholarships for them! Or what about this guy, who contradicts himself 80 times per paragraph?
Draconian sanctions are the only way to go… This isn't to say I don't have a grudging respect for the Pats. It's not cheating if you don't get caught and they weren't caught during the game.
Or what about the requisite "hard-boiled tri-state columnist offering shitty puns"?
Throw the pump at them!
Haha! Good one! Because you use a pump to deflate balls! Do you know easy it is MY GOD IT'S EASIER THAN CYBERWARFARE YOU SHOULD BE SCARED TO SLEEP AT NIGHT.
It doesn't matter if the advantage was minimal, and if the Patriots could've been using medicine balls and they still would have crushed the Colts. They need to be held accountable for this.
And there you have it. The NFL is no longer in the business of entertaining you with sport. It must be about ACCOUNTABILITY and FAIRNESS and JUSTICE and PROCESSES. Anything except football, really. That's where we are with this shit now. So keep it up, hot takers of America. Where is Shank? Where is Whitlock? Where is Wilbon? When is Simmons gonna chime in about how his postgame plans with Tom Brady have been ruined now? ALL OF YOU NEED TO SHOW YOUR ASSES FOR MY ENJOYMENT. If you have ANY integrity… you'll do it for me.