The New England Patriots should forfeit their place in the Super Bowl for cheating, and the Indianapolis Colts should take their place. There is no other just recompense for their deliberate breaking of the rules by deflating footballs.
Deflated footballs helped the Pats to beat the Colts because they rely more heavily on the air game, and even though many of the players were unaware of the cheating, their management and coach surely were.
To tack on a heavy fine or penalize the Pats by denying them a draft pick pales behind the opportunity to win the Super Bowl. If any team was given that choice: deflate the footballs and get to the Super Bowl, they would surely prefer it and be more than willing to pay the fine and forfeit the draft pick to do so.
The NFL has been under heavy condemnation for its reactions to concussions and domestic violence; only a clear and harsh punishment for cheating — forfeiture of the game and banishment from the Super Bowl — would bring them back into right standing with the general public.
If they fail to do so, or even worse, wait until after the Super Bowl to render a decision (the coward’s way out), the pre-game discussion of the Super Bowl will revolve around cheating. And if the Pats win the Super Bowl, their victory will be tarnished everywhere except for Boston.