Further proof its time for Goodell to go

Let’s get one thing clear, right from the start.

The punishment handed down Monday afternoon to the New England Patriots, and quarterback Tom Brady, has less to do with deflated footballs, and more to do with the shield, and notably the man hiding behind it.

The crime here isn’t just who took the team’s footballs into what bathroom and did whatever with them before the AFC Championship game.

It’s all about the cover-up.

Roger Goodell has made it very clear – to the fans, players, coaches and owners of the 31 other teams, who were really the ones who wanted blood – you don’t mess with the shield.

At least, not until the egg leftover from the Ray Rice fiasco has been wiped clean, and unfortunately, it hasn’t yet. In the eyes of Emperor Goodell, he had to slap the Patriots with his heavy hand, harder than he’s ever slapped before, because, well that’s what everyone not in New England wanted, right?

And as defiant as Robert Kraft sounded in the statement released by the team Monday night, the Patriots owner only has to look in a mirror to find the person to blame.

Yes, Brady should have been suspended, not so much for demanding that two underlings doctor balls illegally, but for not cooperating with the NFL’s investigators. But four games? Really?

And unless I read the Wells Report wrong, and all the analysis on it, I thought the organization had been exonerated? So then why the $1 million fine, the largest ever doled out in league history? Why the loss of draft picks?

Because Goodell believes lying to him, and his league, is an offense greater than any other. Except smoking marijuana. Just ask Josh Gordon.

Kraft should have seen this coming, considering how close he is – or by some reports, was – to the Ginger Hammer.

He did have Goodell over for a party the night before the game, remember? He did stick up for the power-mongering commish last fall, when a lot of people were calling for Goodell’s head, remember?

This is your bed, Mr. Kraft, and now you have to lay in it.

Yes, the team can try to fight the punishment all it wants, but what recourse does it really have? There’s no union for NFL owners, thankfully.

Actually, there’s only one real right answer for Kraft now, and that’s to lead a charge to get Goodell out of power. As the commissioner proved last year with his original punishment to Rice, and his propensity for acting as if he’s the law of the land, that he’s no longer fit for the job.

In fact, the Patriots’ punishment just goes to show how much of a buffoon Goodell really is. Kraft was his biggest supporter, and now that support is all but gone. It’s like Pinocchio just stabbed Mr. Geppetto in the back.

By the time Sept. 10 rolls around, there should be two people notably missing from the NFL’s season-opener: Brady and Goodell. Only one should be allowed to ever come back.

And once that’s done, then Kraft can get back to work trying to reacquire that No. 1 draft pick. Otherwise, how will Bill Belichick accumulate four extra seventh-round picks over the next three years?

Joe Marchilena can be reached at 594-6478, jmarchilena@cabinet.com or @Telegraph_JoeM.