The inflation level of the footballs had nothing to do with the New England Patriots winning their fourth Super Bowl of the Belichick/Brady Era. This was demonstrated in the second half of the AFC title game, when the Patriots blew away the Indianapolis Colts, and in the Super Bowl, when Brady rallied his offense in masterful fashion.

What was discovered early on in this drama – by me, anyway – was how greatly the NFL has allowed quarterbacks to manipulate footballs to get the feel they want on a Sunday afternoon (or Sunday night, Monday night, Thursday night or almost any time on Thanksgiving).

This was never about performance with Brady. As stated, the idea that a low-pressure football had an effect on the competition was refuted after the footballs were inflated to the guidelines in the second half vs. the Colts, and when the footballs were monitored closely for the Super Bowl.

This was always about feel: Aaron Rodgers likes his footballs fat, and Brady likes them skinnier.

We’ve found out quarterbacks put ‘em in saunas, gave ‘em baths, swath ‘em in oils, might take ‘em to massage parlors … all in the search for the feel that they preferred.

To me, Peyton Manning and Teddy Bridgewater wearing gloves to get the feel they want is as much of a cheating offense as what took place with Brady and the footballs in the AFC title game.

And wearing that glove with who knows what on it is probably more of an advantage …. meaning 0.075 percent (just under the legal limit) to 0.05 percent.

Or, in other words, no real advantage.

As a friend of mine said, Brady got caught for going 10 miles per hour over the speed limit and probably was willing to pay the fine. When the NFL and Roger Goodell went nuts and decided to try to put him in football prison, Brady said the Hades with it and decided to fight the power-mad commissioner every step.

The  NFL should have admitted that the manipulation of footballs had become common practice, that Brady and the Patriots might have gone overboard and, even though it had no impact on results, that a $100,000 fine was being imposed on the team and closer attention was going to paid to game footballs in the future.

Goodell came out with the shocking news in upholding the four-game suspension of Brady on Tuesday that the quarterback had “destroyed’’ his cell phone. Rog the Ego could not have been more outraged if he was talking about an axe murder.

“Brady Destroys Cell Phone’’ – that proves …

Actually, that proves he’s a wonderful rebel as well as one of the two best quarterback of all time and he’s not willing to bow to Goodell’s autocracy.

I’m a bigger fan of Brady today than after any of his magnificent Super Bowl performances. Hopefully, he’ll be the guy to finally slap around Goodell and the NFL in court and get the gutless union to which he belongs to rise up against management.

Memo to players: Goodell hates you. He wants to steal your money and keep it in the owners’ pockets at every turn.

Now is the time to take off the muzzle, drop the “it’s none of my business’’ rhetoric and rally around Brady in this fight. You even have an ally in ownership: the Patriots’ Robert Kraft.

One more note on these evil son of a guns that run and profit from the NFL:

The Star Tribune’s Jim Souhan had a long feature on Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway last week. It detailed all Greenway has done on the field and in the community for the Vikings.

The team was full of praise for Greenway. And with no salary cap issue, the team also forced him to a take a 50 percent paycut for 2015 from what the contract that he signed at the peak of his value called for.

That’s what you call appreciation, NFL-style.

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