BOSTON (CBS) — Tonight marks the beginning of the Patriots’ title defense – and the end of the sad, sordid chapter of fear and loathing known as Deflategate.
The Pats and their fans will get their banner; Commissioner Roger Goodell will get his thoroughly-deserved booing.
And then we’ll all move on. Point made, dunk slammed, enemies roasted.
But before we go, let’s reflect on three of the more enduring lessons learned from the whole ordeal.
* Lesson #1: Envy is deservedly one of the seven deadly sins.
Envy was a crucial reason why powerful NFL owners pushed their puppet commissioner down a wormhole that put the league’s disciplinary authority at legal risk and cost tens of millions in legal fees, all to prove nothing.
And in the end, it not only didn’t hurt the Patriots, but gave them extra motivation to win it all again. Oops.
* Lesson #2: No good deed goes unpunished.
Tom Brady has been a textbook poster boy for the NFL, a merchandise-moving TV draw free of scandal. Pats owner Robert Kraft has been an architect of the league’s financial success and labor peace.
For their trouble, they were needlessly slandered and penalized.
* And lesson #3: Deflategate exposed a serial failure of important institutions.
The players’ union, we learned in court, had failed to negotiate a proper balance between league authority and due process.
The referees had no workable system for assuring ball inflation standards.
The media botched key story details. Right, ESPN?
And the justice system was anything but just.
But here’s a bonus lesson – he who laughs last, laughs best.