Tom Brady is said to be seeking total exoneration, and it appears he’s entitled to it.

The idea that Brady and the New England Patriots intentionally deflated footballs for a competitive advantage has been discredited by everyone from sidewalk chemists to Web physicists to unlicensed ceramicists, not to mention your own common sense. But most importantly, it is utterly shredded in a new scientific analysis by the American Enterprise Institute, which shows the only inflation problem is in NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s head.

The NFL paid millions for a fundamentally flawed report by lawyer Ted Wells that made Brady and the Patriots out to be slam-dunk guilty, based on more than 100 pages of mathematical analysis of ball pressurization … that turns out to be erroneous. The AEI’s report totally rejects the finding that footballs used by the Patriots in the AFC final had a significant drop in air pressure compared to those of the Colts. But the truly damning sentence is this one, buried in its erudite phrasings and equations: “The Wells report’s statistical analysis cannot be replicated by performing the analysis as described in the report,” the AEI concludes.

Translated: The math didn’t add up. It’s a standard principle in science: If you can’t replicate the results, then there is a problem with them. Either you made a mistake or you made it up.

When the AEI analysts looked more closely at how such a mistake could have been made, what they found “astonished” them, said the report’s co-author, Stan Veuger. The Wells report “relies on an unorthodox statistical procedure at odds with the methodology the report describes.” Translation: The Wells report said it would use one equation but then used another to arrive at its numbers.

“It was really clumsy,” Veuger said. “It’s the kind of mistake you’d see in freshman statistics class.”

Normally these “special counsel” reports are airtight documents. The report by Major League Baseball on Pete Rose’s gambling was an unassailable document of 215 pages that included 313 witnesses and seven volumes of exhibits that made it impossible for Rose to fight his banishment. But lately the NFL has begun turning these investigations into campaigns calculated to enhance the commissioner’s profile and powers.

And they seem to be written to fit predetermined conclusions.

Twice now Goodell has ginned up scandals that unfairly targeted players and damaged franchises on what turned out to be flawed evidence. Forget his bungled handling of Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice – at least those guys actually did something wrong. In the Deflategate and Bountygate affairs, Goodell hammered people who appear to have done nothing.

The AEI’s entry into Deflategate is important because the institute was a major factor in righting the injustice in Bountygate back in 2012. The commissioner went all hanging judge on the New Orleans Saints, suspending several officials and players for a supposed bonuses system to injure opponents between 2009 and 2011. But then AEI analyzed injury data – something that surely the commissioner should have done. The AEI found that the Saints injured fewer opposing players than all but one team from 2009 to 2011. After AEI’s report was presented, the suspensions were vacated.

AEI is a conservative think tank that normally doesn’t get into sports issues. But this case was too inviting. The discussion of ball pressure in the Wells report was so contested that Veuger and Kevin Hassett, AEI’s director of economic studies, decided to examine it.

“There was a lot of talk about the report not being good,” Veuger said, “and a fairly big chunk of it was stats analysis and data, and we thought, ‘We might as well look at this one and see if it holds up.’ “

Goodell is now in a truly interesting and awkward position. He has said, “I very much look forward to hearing from Mr. Brady and to considering any new information he may bring to my attention.”

Well, here is a boatload of very inconvenient new information.

Does Goodell stand by the Wells report, thus establishing that he’s incapable of fairly considering evidence? Does he try to sidestep the AEI analysis by claiming that the scientific evidence is just a small part of the case against Brady? Trouble is, more than half of the Wells report’s 243 pages is taken up by pressure gauges and pounds-per-square-inch analysis – all of which must be thrown out, according to AEI. If the balls weren’t deflated, then what’s left? One email exchange, in which Brady complained that some game balls against the New York Jets were ludicrously overinflated. Is this evidence of ill intent? Hardly. Brady’s solution to the over-inflation was to suggest the refs check the rulebook.

Or does Goodell do the right thing and rescind Brady’s suspension on the basis of the new info in the AEI report – thus admitting that the league spent millions on a railroading farce? There is trouble for Goodell in that too, because it suggests the league office is either incapable of executing a proper investigation or unwilling to.

The AEI analysis suggests that players’ union director DeMaurice Smith was right that the Wells report “delivered exactly what the client wanted.” It suggests this wasn’t an investigation; it was a frame job by the commissioner’s office, desperate to re-establish authority.

Brady may or may not win his appeal. But there is one sure loser here, trapped in a box of his own making: the commissioner.