Patriots

Patriots

FOXBORO -- NFL Security wants transparency and cooperation from its players? They are the guardians at the gate when it comes to protecting the integrity of the game for the American public?

Solid.

Be as transparent as you want the players to be.

Release the PSI numbers randomly collected in 2015. Quid pro quo.

That’s the card the NFLPA should slap down on the table right now. The league wants players accused of PED use in that Al Jazeera story from January -- a story the NFL ostensibly deemed not credible by clearing Peyton Manning -- to offer up some level of evidence? Great. Demonstrate, NFL Security, what you do with evidence you gather.

The league wants the unchecked right to sit players down on a metal chair under a naked bulb and sweat them for info? All in the name of The Shield? All in the name of ensuring football fans, advertisers and broadcast partners know they’re getting an unsullied product?

Terrific. Then prove that the $30 million investigation into the Patriots and the four-game suspension of Tom Brady that resulted wasn’t a sham. Provide evidence that the Patriots footballs could only have been below 12.5 PSI because someone other than Mother Nature tampered with them.

Because the suspension of Tom Brady changes the league’s balance of power, doesn’t it? If there’s no evidence the footballs used by New England in the first half of the AFC Championship were any less inflated than balls used in the other games the league collected data from, what do we have? We have the NFL fixing games.

 

Taking the best player from one of the league’s best teams after an investigation lobbied for by rival teams, launched by suspicious league employees and aided by a league-bought Washington lawyer drives a steel stake through the heart of the game’s integrity if the NFL is hiding evidence footballs weren’t tampered with. Forget the footballs. The games Brady will miss and are being tampered with.

Because if the PSI numbers don’t indicate the balls were undeniably deflated, all the NFL has for evidence that night is a chubby, part-time team employee disappearing for 90 seconds to take a leak.

And all the absurd text messages on Jim McNally’s phone are circumstantial evidence of -- at worst -- footballs being dickied within the parameters of league-approved PSI levels.

This isn’t an “Oh, great, it all comes back to Deflategate . . . ” argument. The players, their union and the public have a right to transparency.

Did the NFL gather PSI evidence last year that confirmed footballs were tampered with in Foxboro beyond a reasonable doubt?

The league has so far hidden the results. In fact, the league can’t even get its story straight on who actually took the random PSI measurements in 2015.

You know, I know, the players know and America knows what the results will show. The NFL knows too. And it can’t have afford -- literally -- being exposed. So it will hide behind the shield of “Protecting The Shield” and expect players to be suckers enough to frame themselves for whatever the league sees fit to suspend them for.