Column: After sullied week in sports, let's all shower off
After a sullied week in sports, we sure could use a shower.
Or at least Judge Judy.
Start with Tom Brady, his fingerprints all over Deflategate but as defiant as ever.
Move on to Alex Rodriguez, who passed Willie Mays on the career home run list after juicing for a good chunk of his career.
Top it off with Isiah Thomas, somehow landing a job running a women's basketball team at the same place where he was the central figure in a sexual harassment lawsuit.
Since Judy is busy with her TV show, we'll take a stab at some frontier justice.
The NFL, showing much more thoroughness investigating underinflated footballs than it did domestic violence, finally released its long-awaited report on Brady's shenanigans at the AFC championship game in January.
The 243-page opus found that a pair of low-level New England employees broke league rules by intentionally deflating the balls used by the Patriots offense, making them easier to throw in inclement weather. It also pretty much concluded that the star quarterback had to know about the whole caper.
Not that the coolest guy in the room is copping to anything. Brady has always denied any wrongdoing, and he sidestepped questions about the issue during a university appearance Thursday night.
''As a human you care about what people think. I think also as a public figure you learn not everyone is going to like you,'' he said. ''Good, bad or indifferent, there are a lot of people who don't like Tom Brady, and I am OK with that.''
Well, we're not OK with cheating.
That is what happened here - pure and simple.
After being inspected by the officials, the game balls were swiped, taken into a bathroom and intentionally deflated. Spare us the argument that it was nothing more than ''gamesmanship,'' and we don't care that Brady actually played better in the second half with properly inflated balls. You don't get away with bank robbery just because you didn't get any loot.
The Verdict: Brady should be suspended for a minimum of two games. The Patriots should receive a hefty fine and lose a mid-round draft pick. While coach Bill Belichick wasn't implicated in the report, he's the one who sets the tone for this lawless culture. He goes on probation for the rest of his career, facing a one-year suspension if New England is caught doing anything wrong again.
While Rodriguez has finally displayed an endearing side we never knew he had during his return from a yearlong suspension, it's impossible not to heckle his 661st home run, which broke a tie with Mays for fourth on the career list.
''Nobody will ever pass Willie Mays,'' Rodriguez said, again showing his newfound humility.
Let's make it official. While baseball clearly turned a blind eye during the height of the steroid era and so many players - Barry Bonds and Roger Clemons among them - have faced doping questions, Rodriguez's widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs warrants some sort of sanction in the record book.
Then, with a clean conscience, we can get back to marveling at how well A-Rod is playing as he approaches his 40th birthday.
The Verdict: Wipe out Rodriguez's stats from 2001-03, when he acknowledged using PEDs, and from 2010-12, when he was linked to the Biogenesis scandal. That removes 220 homers from his totals, and he no longer would be trailing only Bonds (that's a separate issue), Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth. It would also end A-Rod's quest for another baseball milestone: 3,000 hits.
The Hall of Famer returned to Madison Square Garden this week as president of the WNBA's New York Liberty - a curious move, to say the least, given Thomas' track record.
Not only has he flopped at just about everything he's done since his playing career, including a miserable stint as the Knicks president and coach, he was involved in a sexual harassment lawsuit in 2007 that resulted in an $11.5 million settlement to a former Knicks executive.
Even with that ugly blemish on the resume, Garden chairman Jim Dolan re-hired Thomas to run the women's team and raised the prospect of him becoming a part-owner. Apparently forgetting that anyone with Google can easily look up details of the harassment case, Thomas insisted he was not liable for any wrongdoing.
Now, back to reality. A federal jury ruled that Thomas created a hostile work environment, and his boss essentially paid the full amount of the damages to make the case go away.
The Verdict: The WNBA owners should heed the call of, well, everyone by banning Thomas from taking any job within the league, no matter how insignificant. The bigger question is why Dolan and others keep hiring Thomas, whose only apparent talent is being really good at interviewing for his next job. Sorry, that one is beyond our jurisdiction or comprehension.
With that, court's adjourned.
Time for that shower.
Paul Newberry is a national writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry(at)ap.org or at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963