The competition for “best Super Bowl ever” is tight, and it’s not hostage to recency bias, since one of the biggest contenders was the game just two years ago, involving one of the teams that played Sunday night.
But when things happen that have never happened before in the long history of the game, that tilts the argument in favor of one game. The greatest comeback ever, the first overtime ever … they make the Patriots’ 34-28 win over the Falcons in Super Bowl 51 No. 1.
It could be all let out now, in the next few days, by the time the parade in Boston is over and the streets swept up and the offseason gets into full swing.
All the hard feelings could be let out by then. Tom Brady has done a solid job of soft-pedaling all the revenge talk, right up to yet another awkward photo op with Goodell on Monday morning at the Super Bowl MVP award presentation. He got his version of the last word in that postgame commercial Sunday night.
Kraft has a team to run, fellow owners to bond with and a commissioner to work with against their real common enemies, the players.
Goodell has eaten all the crow he can stand by now. All the damage of the botched investigation has been done, and overcome.
It’s the perfect time and opportunity for Patriots fans to walk away, to assign this to the past. There will be another reason for some fans somewhere to grit their teeth about how this league is run soon enough.
But Deflategate will not be allowed to drift away. It will be anchored in place, ready for Goodell to catch another earful on opening night 2017.