I counted 20 cameras, 60 media members and two anxious Krafts at Wednesday morning’s media availability held to unveil the Patriots first round pick, Malcom Brown.

It was a photo-op weeks in the making. Originally scheduled for May 11, the Brown introduction was postponed indefinitely by the team on May 8. The reason? The NFL dropped the Wells Report – quite by coincidence, I’m sure – into the calm, midweek, post-draft water on Wednesday, May 6. The specter of the national media gnawing on Brown for answers about what he knew about DeflateGate and when he knew it was enough to make the Patriots say, “Let’s wait.”

So they did. And it worked. Instead of having Anderson Cooper or Geraldo Rivera hanging from Brown’s throat or sprinting after the Krafts for comment, Brown only had to field one question about the “controversy.”

Meanwhile, Robert and Jonathan Kraft scuttled from the stage in middle of the field and walked quickly to sanctuary without media molestation.

One local newsman took a tentative step in pursuit then stopped. He watched the Krafts depart the way a 5-year-old looks up at a lost balloon.

This is where we are now. Covering a story about an alleged football deflation conspiracy and its fallout that will trump almost any on-field development for the foreseeable future. Hoping for morsels. Waiting for scraps.

Being close to it, you do get a little DeflateGate fatigue.

But then you get smacked with the magnitude of it. Tom Brady, arguably the greatest quarterback ever, is currently suspended for the first four games of the season. The reigning Super Bowl champions – the only dynasty of the free agency era - were stripped of a first-round pick. The Commissioner shepherded into his position by Robert Kraft has positioned himself like a carrot-topped Pontius Pilate. How can this not be the dominant story?

Had the Colts equipment man Sean Sullivan not sent an accusatory email before the AFC Championship Game and had Brady not been intercepted in the first half of that game, Robert Kraft may have lingered a bit on Wednesday. Maybe he’d have pointed at the construction on the new high-end luxury club in the end zone. Sent a few winks and finger-pistol points at a much smaller media contingent.

Not this year, though. There’s a siege mentality in place.

And, as it currently stands, we won’t be back here to see a first-round pick unveiled in 2016. The Patriots don’t have one.