WRITING this column has filled me with respect, admiration and even awe for the sports writers of the Daily News. First, because I think they combine to produce, day in and day out, the best sports section in the country, and secondly, because they write several days a week or, in some cases, every day. I often find it difficult to come up with a topic once every two weeks!
At the beginning of this week, I couldn't think of anything interesting enough for a full column. Then I get up Wednesday morning and - boom! - two megastories break out of nowhere: the "Deflategate" report and Shady McCoy's allegations that Chip Kelly makes racially motivated decisions. Let me start with the latter first.
I don't believe Kelly has one iota of racially biased feelings in his makeup. The facts simply belie McCoy's contention. There are more black players on the Eagles' roster now than when Kelly became coach. The roles vacated by McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin have been assumed by other black players Kelly signed or drafted (DeMarco Murray, Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor). Kelly has released or traded both white and black players at roughly the same rate.
The truth is that Kelly trades or releases players who don't conform to his view of the team concept and what he wants his system to be all about. I don't think it matters to him whether they are white, black, Latino or purple. If Brian Bosworth were on the roster when Kelly arrived, he would have been dispatched post-haste.
The theory advanced by McCoy and, to some extent, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith has its strongest argument in the fact Riley Cooper remains with the team, well after he made his drunken racial statement to a security guard at a Kenny Chesney concert in 2013. Aiding their argument is the fact he hasn't been released or traded, even though his production, for the most part, has been subpar.
It was pretty clear that owner Jeffrey Lurie and Chip were ready to get rid of Cooper almost immediately after the incident came to light that July, but changed their minds when Michael Vick, a black quarterback Kelly chose to start over Nick Foles, made a passionate plea to his teammates to forgive Cooper and come together as a team. Vick was more responsible for Cooper remaining with the team than anyone else (though the fact Maclin went down with a season-ending injury during that training camp must've been a factor, too). So I think it's pretty safe to conclude Kelly has no bias against black players and no favoritism toward white players (although it is quite clear he strongly favors Ducks).
The hubbub over Kelly and McCoy was only slightly overshadowed by the report released by attorney Ted Wells regarding the "Deflategate" controversy. Wells concluded that the evidence made it "more likely than not" that quarterback Tom Brady knew about it and was part of the conspiracy to deflate footballs the Patriots used in the AFC Championship Game against the Colts, in direct violation of NFL rules.
You might wonder what kind of standard "more likely than not" is. Frankly, so am I. In a criminal case, a defendant can be convicted only if found guilty "beyond a responsible doubt." In civil litigation, the plaintiff must establish the defendant's liability by a "preponderance of the evidence."
"More likely than not" sounds pretty close to "preponderance of the evidence" but Wells, either intentionally or unintentionally, created an issue for Brady to appeal by not using the preponderance standard. When I first heard Wells' conclusion, I said an arbitrator will definitely reverse any penalties imposed on Brady because of the use of that standard. But Brady refused to cooperate with the investigation by not turning over text messages and emails. NFL rules state that players, coaches and teams must fully cooperate with any league-authorized investigation.
When you consider the evidence, which is fairly strong circumstantially, it is clear Brady conspired with Patriots staff members to deflate the footballs, and he should be disciplined - and, in my view, disciplined severely. I like Brady and think he is a fabulous football player and leader, but both he and the Patriots organization as a whole have always had a sense of entitlement and arrogance in their approach to the rules that every other team must follow.
Brady is one of the NFL's biggest stars, and therefore he seems to think he does not have to cooperate with an investigation he thinks is trivial. Well, Tom, that is OK, you can have that opinion, but it should cost you an eight-game suspension for the 2015 season. In fact, let's just make that a 12-game suspension, so you can watch from the sideline as the Eagles romp over your team in Foxborough!
On Twitter: @GovEdRendell