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Does Getting Voted No. 1 on the NFL Top 100 Mean Brady is Exonerated?

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So now that Tom Brady’s been voted No. 1 on the 2017 NFL Top 100 list by the rest of the players in the league, and the NFL Twitter account is calling him the Greatest of All Time and breaking out the GOAT emoji, I have a semi-serious question.

Are we done here?

I’m not referring to Brady’s career.  It should be obvious by now he’s going to keep playing football until the universe collapses into a singularity. And then once it explodes in another Big Bang, he’ll pick up where he left off and keep adding to his win total. That’s just common sense. I’m talking about the allegations of cheating. The dreaded D word. Does this finally, once and for all, exonerate him?

I know it’s mostly a matter of your world view. To most Patriots fans, he never needed to be exonerated. Some took a few weeks to realize what bullshit was being thrown at them and realized they couldn’t trust anything that comes out of Goodell’s Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. I want the first line of my obituary to read “Thornton was right about Deflategate from minute one” (followed by “… before dying peacefully in his sleep after a night of wild, multi-orgasmic, 3-way sex with Kate Beckinsale and Gal Gadot …”). There will always be a few bitter, jealous rivals and trolling media honks who will never believe he’s innocent. But I’m not talking about the people on the extremes. I mean the general public. The vox populi. The great unwashed. In the eyes of America and the football world in particular, does this vindicate Brady, at long last?

Watch that video. A couple minutes in, it mentions he served a suspension, but doesn’t say a word about what it was for. Why not? It’s absolutely relevant to the story of his 2016 season. There’s no need to whitewash the history of it. Unless the NFL Network doesn’t want to draw attention to how utterly preposterous the whole thing was. Because it makes their bosses look bad, not the No. 1 player in the league, as voted on by the players in the league.

And here’s an even larger point. If Brady wasn’t the best player in the league in 2016, if his performance had dropped off the way say, Cam Newton’s did, if he dropped from No. 4 on last year’s list to like 15th, what would the narrative be? It would be offered as proof that he needs to tamper with the footballs in order to be any good. And now that he’s not the QB he was, his whole career is suspect. But I’ve yet to hear a single Deflategate Truther look at how he’s performed post-“getting caught” and say, “Geez. He’s playing better now than he did before. I guess I had my head way up my ass on that one!” So let me say it for you: You had your head way up your ass. The proof is right in front of you in video form.

This is not saying this is over. Not by a damned sight. Nothing is over until we decide it is. The damage done by the lost draft picks is permanent. There’s no way Mr. Kraft could know what the hell to write on the memo line of that million dollar check he had to write. And there’ll always be low info ignoramuses who think Brady did something. But getting voted the best player in the league by the very people he was accused of cheating tells me he is exonerated at last.

@jerrythornton1