If New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had followed the lead of his team owner Robert Kraft and accepted the punishment handed down by the National Football League for getting caught using illegally-deflated footballs in the American Football Conference’s championship game earlier this year, the matter would already be forgotten.

Kraft, as you might remember, wanted Deflategate to go away four months since the term was invented, according to an article that appeared last weekend in USA Today Sports.

The matter has only intensified in the days since the New England Patriots owner decided not to appeal significant layers of punishment stemming from the deflated footballs—a $1 million fine and the loss of two future draft picks.

“The noise is still at full-blast for one, all-too-fitting reason—Tom Brady,” the article states.

“With Brady appealing his four-game suspension, and the NFL Players Association angling to force Commissioner Roger Goodell from hearing the case, the Deflategate drama rages on,” the article continues.

However Goodell will hear Brady’s appeal of his four-game suspension for his role in the deflated footballs scandal, according to an article that appeared in The Houston Chronicle Saturday.

“Goodell will not withdraw from what the commissioner considers his responsibility of hearing the appeal, according to several people with knowledge of the decision.

“The union asked Goodell to remove himself from that role because it said he lacked impartiality and that Goodell would be called as a witness. But NFL lawyers have recommended to Goodell that he should not recuse himself,” the Chronicle article said.

However, it seems as though Brady could have diffused—if not deflated—this entire stream of consciousness and debate way back at the beginning if he had merely accepted his punishment.

But when a quarterback like Brady is making several million dollars per season, a four-game suspension without pay will result in very hefty monetary punishment.

“I still shake my head when I recall Brady’s initial press conference on the matter—the one spoofed by Saturday Night Live—when he declared that he knew nothing at all about the intricacies of football preparation,” wrote Jarrett Bell in a recent USA Today Sports article.

“That coming from a marquee quarterback who joined forces with Peyton Manning and Drew Brees in 2006 to lobby the NFL’s competition committee to allow visiting teams to bring their own footballs to game day, rather than having the home team supply all of the footballs.

“Yet Brady wanted us to believe that he was clueless about the process? Cell phone records that reveal extensive contact that Brady had with equipment assistant John Jastremski in the immediate days after the AFC title game also illuminated just how poorly Brady performed at that press conference.

“The quarterback who knew nothing about football preparation only had at least a half-dozen phone conversations, a slew of text messages and even a meeting in the quarterback room with Jastremski. By the end of the week, though, Brady publicly played dumb about football preparation.

“He would have been more convincing with some deeper layers of insight that could have at least provided a plausible explanation for how footballs could become deflated. Bill Belichick provided scientific analysis that concluded cold weather is a factor.

“Evidently, as the Wells Report contends, Brady liked his footballs to some sort of specification that Jim “The Deflator” McNally, a locker room attendant, and Jastremski tried to provide. That’s not to say that Brady instructed them to deflate balls to illegal levels.

“So, had Brady been a bit more revealing about his preferences—again, maybe without incriminating himself—a few months ago, this issue might not have become the overblown narrative that it is.

“Now, as the end of May approaches, Brady can explain it to Goodell. After all, he’s the one who was suspended and has seen his reputation take a hit. It’s way past time when Brady should convincingly set the record straight,” the article concludes.

KWICKIES…Congrats to the West Orange-Stark Mustangs for being the only area high school baseball team still alive in the state playoffs. The Mighty ‘Stangs rebounded from a 2-0 loss Friday to blow out Bellville 14-2 in the nightcap and then win the rubber game and the series Saturday night, 4-1. The Mustangs take on Carthage in the best-of-three Regional semifinals, with the first game set tomorrow (Thurs.) at Driller Park in Kilgore.  The second game is 3 p.m. Saturday at McNeese Cowboy Field in Lake Charles. A third game (if necessary) will follow at McNeese.

Houston Astros’ recently-acquired outfielder Preston Tucker became the first player in franchise history to have two pinch-hit home runs in the same series and the first rookie to accomplish that feat in the majors since Reggie Taylor of the Cincinnati Reds did it at Colorado in August, 2002. Tucker smashed a pinch-homer in the ninth-inning Thursday to send the game into extra-innings and hit a three-run shot Sunday to tie the score at 7-7 in the sixth inning that Houston eventually won 10-8.

The University of Houston, LSU, TCU, Dallas Baptist and Texas A&M were included in the 16 sites for the NCAA Regional baseball tournament that begins Friday. Other regional hosts include Illinois, Miami, Cal State Fullerton, Florida, UC Santa Barbara, UCLA, Louisville, Vanderbilt, Missouri State, Oklahoma State and Florida State.

Longtime Baylor head baseball coach Steve Smith was fired Sunday after 21 seasons at the helm of the Bears. However, his 744 victories made him the school’s winningest head coach in any sport. Smith pitched for Baylor from 1982-83 and became the Bears’ head coach in 1995, posting a 744-523-1 record. A nation-wide search for Smith’s replacement will begin immediately, according to athletic director Ian McCaw.

By the time this Korner hits the streets Wednesday perhaps both the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors will have won their respective conference championships in the National Basketball Association playoffs.

JUST BETWEEN US…The Houston Astros came from behind in both games last weekend at Detroit to split a four-game series with the Tigers. Saturday the ‘Stroes were trailing 2-1 with no outs and Tigers on first and second when a ball was smashed down the third base line that Astros third sacker Jonathan Villar back-handed and stepped on the base, fired to second to Jose Altuve who relayed to first to complete their first triple play since 2004. The next inning with two outs on nobody on base, Houston got four straight hits, went ahead 3-2 and won by that score. On Sunday the Astros came back from a 7-3 deficit to beat Detroit 10-8 to split the series. Despite Monday’s 4-3 loss  at Baltimore, the Astros still led the major leagues with a 14-7 record on the road and had a 6 ½-game lead over the second-place Los Angeles Angels in the American League West standings with a 29-17 record, which leads the American League.