Defensive end Chris Doleman flattened quarterbacks in the NFL for 15 seasons with the Vikings, Falcons and 49ers, finishing with 150.5 sacks, and in 2012, was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
One thing Doleman did not flatten: Footballs. When news broke Wednesday that the NFL probe said Patriots employees probably deflated the footballs and Tom Brady likely knew of the deflating, Doleman said the quarterback and coach Bill Belichick should be denied first-ballot entry to the Hall of Fame.
"We knew that press conference Tom [Brady] did and that press conference [Bill] Belichick did was bogus," Doleman told ThePostGame on Wednesday.
Belichick and Brady addressed the issue in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, when no action was taken against the Patriots organization.
Doleman said the "Spygate" flap when the Patriots filmed Jets' coaches signals during a game should be considered because the organization was already caught once, even if Brady had no involvement in that 2007 issue.
"They're Hall of Fame guys," Doleman says. "They've had Hall of Fame careers. But do you just give it to them like that after they’ve been doing something like this? It's the first time you've been caught doing this, but it's not the first time you've been caught cheating. It's not the first time you've been caught breaking the rules. We're not talking about something outside the game. You cheated inside the game. It's not as bad as Pete Rose, but you didn't honor the game. You tipped the scales to your advantage and I don't think we should honor someone like that."
Doleman, who now works as the executive vice president of business development for The Fantasy Sports Network, believes there needs to be a punishment with substance. In the past, the Patriots have been fined and lost draft picks, including a first-rounder for Spygate. Doleman has a more creative plan of action.
"You can't take away their championship," Doleman says of the Super Bowl XLIX champions. "You can't take away their draft choices because the report came out after the draft. I think something that you do. ... I think that those guys definitely should not be first-ballot Hall of Famers. I think they would have to wait some time. What that time is I don't know. I know, as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, our values are honoring the game's integrity and remembering those who play. You cannot sit up there and just say we're going to forget this."
Belichick took over as Patriots head coach the year after Doleman retired. The Patriots had never won a title when Doleman played his last game in the 1999 season. New England has won four titles in six Super Bowl appearances since.
"Everybody doesn't cheat," Doleman says. "It's been proven this organization has a tough time with the rules and they're always trying to figure out some little advantage that they can take advantage of. Filming teams, you know that's not right, flattening balls, stealing teams' signals. You know that's not right. That's not even in the spirit of sportsmanship."
More specifically, Doleman claims it is foolish to take Belichick seriously. The head coach has been a tactical politician over the past decade and a half, but this has gone too far.
"How can you as a head coach say we don't pick up footballs?" Doleman asks. "I've never touched a football. You fricking kidding me? You were a position coach. You were a linebacker coach in New York! You were a defensive coordinator in New York! Somebody had to throw the balls to the players during warm-ups. Tom knows the pressure on those balls. It doesn't start at the quarterback because no quarterback wants to get his team in trouble. It had to come from somewhere up top. Everybody who handled that ball knew that ball was underweight. If they didn't, they should have known."
Doleman is starting to feel similarly about Brady. As much as Brady looks and plays like America's Golden Child, there is no denying what occurred in the AFC championship Game against the Colts.
"I like Tom Brady," Doleman says. "I like Tom Brady a lot. But if he cheated, he cheated. And no one likes a cheater. And it's not out of the character of that organization."
Doleman points out Belichick, Brady and the Patriots had a lack of support after the initial deflategate accusations. Colts linebacker D'Qwell Jackson brought the situation to light after he intercepted Brady and felt the football's noticeable difference.
"Through that whole process, not one quarterback, not one, stood up and said well, I could see why that happened," Doleman says. "Everybody said that's B.S."
The Patriots semi-dynasty of the past 15 years may not be declining on the field, but in reputation, Belichick's club is losing ground. During Super Bowl week, the organization was able to navigate around the tough deflategate questions. The team used an innocent-until-proven-guilty mentality.
After Wednesday's report, there is more substance, although still mostly circumstantial, that suggests the Patriots willfully cheated.
"They will do anything they can do to win and that means break the rules," Doleman says. "Anything you have to do to tip the odds in their favor, they will risk it all, just to come home and say they have a victory and I think that's awful."
Doleman's new career is in fantasy sports, but there is nothing fantasy about this. The Patriots appear to have cheated and in the minds of a Hall of Famer like Doleman, reputations are being tainted.
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.