Well, the commissioner really put his foot down this time. It’s just not all that big a foot.

After three days of deliberations, in super-top-secret meetings with his advisors, NFL big boss Roger Goodell decided that punishing the New England Patriots for their sign-stealing shenanigans had to be tough. And I mean really tough. There just had to be no way for the Pats not to get the message, loud and clear. Goodell is the decider, after all, and this is how it must be.

So the club loses a draft pick, possibly a first-rounder, and head coach Bill Belichick has to cough up half a mil. No doubt they’ll be a fundraising account in the coach’s name by the weekend. The Pats organization must also pay a $250,000 fine.

Anyway, while the punishment divvyed out might prove sufficient, I’m partial to the list of choices below, which I understand were each considered with due gravity. And while some of these ideas might seem harsh, please remember they weren’t meant to be permanent measures; and would only apply to the rest of the current season.

Here’s the top ten rejected Pats punishment ideas.

1. The Patriots must kickoff from their own 20 yard line.

2. Pats must wear throwback helmets. You know, the ones with the Paul Revere look-alike squatting in the center position, football in right hand, eyes focused forward. With just this one slight change: each player’s helmet would be repainted to feature the character’s left hand holding a pair of binoculars, held in front of his eyes in the viewing position, and squinting.

3. Tom Brady’s dating privileges revoked until Christmas.

4. Pats must use their bye week to pick up foliage throughout New England.

5. Belichick, assistant coaches and video guy must act as tackling dummies for a week’s worth of practice. Without gear.

6. Players must host tailgate parties with rowdiest fans at all road games, until one hour before kickoff. Helmet and pads optional.

7. If New England finishes in a position to host a playoff game, instead of Foxboro, the game must be played on the campus of minimum security prison Elgin, in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. According to Forbes.com’s “Best Places to Go to Prison,” Eglin is the original ‘Club Fed,’ nicknamed as such back in the 1980s when prisoners were allowed to wear their own clothes and even go home to have dinner with their families. Those fast and loose days are long gone, but the nickname has stuck. Inmates maintain the golf course at nearby Eglin Air Force Base, but make no mistake—they never get the chance to hit a few themselves. Disgraced shoe designer Steve Madden is serving his 41-month sentence here.”

Prisoner perks include “an active music department that sponsors a number of inmate bands and also has a stash of instruments that prisoners can check out. Also of note is the camp’s strong religious studies program that even goes so far as to offer Native American practitioners a small hide tent that can be used as a sweat lodge.”

8. On the other hand, the next time the Pats visit the Vikings, players must perform KP duty in Minneapolis airport mens’ room.

9. Instead of steak and potatoes at the training table, nothing but tofu tacos, BBQ belly and rainbow chard.

10. Tom Brady must throw left-handed.

— HOWARD COLE

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