Month: January 2015

The Real Problem with “Deflate-gate”

It’s ok to say it. It’s ok to be honest. The New England Patriots are cheaters. That’s not discrediting Bill Belichick. That’s not discounting Tom Brady. It certainly is not being a “hater”. It’s just stating the truth. Whether it is something as large-scale as Spygate (For those who dismiss Spygate as “nothing” – you don’t get $750,000 in total fines and lose a 1st round draft pick because you “might have” cheated. That was clearly a definite violation of rules, and not just simply what “everyone else” does.), or something relatively minor like Rodney Harrison’s 2007 HGH suspension, this team cheats. “Deflate-gate”, as insignificant as New England apologists try to make it out to be, is just the most recent example of what we already knew if we’re being honest with ourselves. The question isn’t whether or not they are cheaters, at this point the question is why.

 
Going back to when Tom Brady was a relatively unknown commodity and the Patriots were a clear underdog to the high-powered “Greatest Show on Turf” Rams, it was logical as to why the Patriots might feel a need to cheat. St. Louis were 14-point favorites, and the Patriots felt the need to gain an unfair advantage over a team they did not match up well with on paper. Illegally filming the opposition’s practices was a sensible albeit unscrupulous way to accomplish that. However, the circumstances were much different in the 2014-15 AFC Championship game. Going into the game, Andrew Luck had been 0-3 against New England, losing by an average score of 48-22 including a 42-20 beatdown earlier in the 2014 regular season. So there was no way the Patriots viewed the Colts as any type of a threat as they did the 2001 Rams. It’s obvious the Patriots didn’t cheat to gain a competitive advantage, which leaves only one logical conclusion as to why they would cheat…

 
The Patriots now cheat just for the thrill of cheating. This is the only conclusion which makes any sense. They survived Spygate. They were fined an amount they could easily pay. They were stripped of the 31st pick of the 2008 draft, but inexplicably allowed to keep the 7th pick. They were allowed to keep their championships. Their legacy is still intact. And they know for every time they do get caught cheating, they have enough football fans who will blindly support them that their reputation as a “model organization” is widely maintained. So, like a child without parents willing instill discipline, the Patriots are doing this not out of necessity but simply because they can. Because the NFL has been soft on the Patriots, they do not fear consequence and as a result will push and break the rules in ways the other 31 teams in the league would not dare. This is dangerous for the NFL because it directly conflicts with the competitive integrity of the league, but Roger Goodell doesn’t mind. He’s much more concerned with who shows up to press conferences and what color cleats players wear.

 
In a vacuum, “Deflate-gate” was very minor. The Colts themselves admit that the amount of PSI in the game balls had little to no bearing on the game. However, the people who eagerly dismiss this latest scandal as nothing are missing the bigger picture. Because of the league’s hesitance to drop the hammer on the Patriots, that team feels impervious to the league’s authority. Consequently, more rogue and defiant acts from this franchise are sure to follow. This is why Patriots CB Brandon Browner is comfortable publicly making comments about trying to break former teammate Richard Sherman’s arm if possible during Super Bowl XLIX. One would think after the NFL essentially dismantled the New Orleans Saints’ franchise with significant suspensions for similar rhetoric being spoken in their locker room, NFL personnel would shy away from such language all together. It seems however that if you’re associated with the Patriots, you can feel free to do whatever you want. Roger Goodell would argue this is not the reality of the situation, but it certainly is the perception and as the saying goes “perception is reality”. And the reality is “Deflate-gate” isn’t about beating the Colts or the legitimacy of that game. It’s about one team not being under the notoriously heavy-handed authority of the NFL’s governing body. This should be the focus of this scandal, not scientific experiments and explanations on the minimal impact of two pounds of air pressure on a single football game.