Too bad the product could not stand alone.

Too bad the discussion after the Super Bowl was not only about Pete Carroll's inexplicable play call and Malcolm Butler's instinctual life-changing play.

Too bad this NFL season and this Super Bowl were not just about football.

Too bad several dark clouds still hover above the NFL shield and the team that won the league's biggest game on Sunday.

Sorry, but it was impossible to watch Roger Goodell posing in front of the Vince Lombardi Trophy on Monday morning with New England quarterback Tom Brady and think of it merely as a pleasant photo op for the league's commissioner and the three-time Super Bowl MVP.

Justice, in fact, was served when the inept commissioner was confronted by such an awkward conclusion to the most tumultuous season of his tenure. At some point in the future - let's hope it does not take too long - Goodell will be forced to make some kind of decision on Deflate-gate.

If you watched Bob Costas' softball interview with Brady on NBC before the Super Bowl, you could not have been convinced that the Patriots' quarterback was innocent of the charges that he asked for game balls to be deflated before the AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium.

Costas lobbed an opportunity for Brady to profess his innocence by concluding the interview with a statement based on words only he seemed to hear during earlier portions of the discussion: "And what I hear you saying is: No matter what may or may not have happened, you had no prior knowledge of it."

Brady's answer: "Look, I've talked about that in the past and I don't want that to continue to be a story about this particular game. All the facts will come out after the Super Bowl and however those facts come out, that will be news to me as well. That process will all take place at some point."

The best answer for an innocent man would have been, "I had nothing to do with this in any way, shape or form."

Whether it was Brady's doing or not, it appears as if the Patriots again circumvented the rules, just as they did when they videotaped the New York Jets' defensive signals during a 2007 game. Because of that incident, it's difficult to believe the Patriots about anything when they are accused of wrongdoing. That's the bed coach Bill Belichick made and he'll forever have to sleep in it.

If the league has evidence that the Patriots deflated footballs before the AFC championship game against Indianapolis and Brady was involved, the quarterback and Belichick should be suspended for at least half the 2015 season and owner Robert Kraft should be fined at least $1 million. The Patriots should also lose their first-round draft choice.

Of course, it's also difficult to have trust in the NFL's ability to investigate this or any other matter given the way it bungled the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson issues during the season. Goodell swears the NFL has learned valuable lessons from these cases. The jury is still out. The violent cases of those two players are obviously much more serious than the Patriots' lesser-air balls, but the NFL's integrity took a bigger hit off the field this year than at any other time in history.

A report that surfaced about Deflate-gate on Sunday was laughable because it came from the NFL Network. Since when should the public trust any controversial information about the NFL that comes from its own network? The wise answer is never.

Goodell gave his annual state-of-the-league address Friday and was rightfully mocked on a number of subjects afterward. One was his condescending answer to a CNN reporter when she questioned the integrity of the NFL's Deflate-gate investigation because the league is paying the lawyer - Ted Wells - who is investigating the matter.

The commissioner also was called out when he claimed he was available for media interviews "almost every day" when told that Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman wanted to know why Goodell wasn't held to the same standards he holds the players to during Super Bowl week. This from a man who did not comment for more than a week after the video surfaced of Rice hitting his future wife in an Atlantic City elevator and Peterson was charged in his child-abuse case. Those were issues that screamed for expedited responses from the league commissioner, but he took his time before holding a lame news conference on Sept. 19.

Still, before Brady was introduced as the Super Bowl MVP on Monday morning, Goodell was able to inform his audience that Sunday night's sensational game was the most watched television program in United States history. The total number of viewers was 114.4 million, according to the Nielsen Company. The top six TV events have all been Super Bowls played since 2010.

Nothing, it seems, can take the air out of the product.

@brookob