This story is one that I swore I would never post about, because I, thought it was much to do about nothing. Quite frankly, I still feel that way. However, when a sports story is the lead on Fox news, I must chime in. I am talking about “Deflategate.” In case you have been living under a rock, this has to do with the Patriots use of underinflated footballs in this year’s AFC championship game against the Colts.
The findings of an NFL investigation into this matter were released in a report earlier this week. Investigators concluded that not only were the footballs underinflated, but that Tom Brady and members of New England’s equipment staff engaged in a deliberate effort to circumvent the rules. However, the actual wording of the report is far more ambiguous than I was above. All the report says is that it is “more probable than not probable” that the things I just mentioned happened. Head coach Bill Belichick is basically absolved of any wrongdoing by the report. Ohis story took another turn a few days later when penalties were announced. Tom Brady has been suspended for the first 4 regular season games of the upcoming season and the Patriots were fined $1 million as well as docked 2 future draft picks, including a first rounder. I am far from a Patriots fan. In fact, they have been the biggest obstacle between my Broncos and the Super Bowl for nearly half a decade now. However, these penalties are ridiculously excessive and here is why.
First of all, the game in question here is a game that the New England won 45-7. Let me repeat that, 45-7. That game could have been played with beach balls (inflated or not) and it would have had zero impact on the outcome. The “integrity of the game” was not affected in any way. The situation also had no bearing on the Super Bowl that New England would go on to win two weeks later.
Secondly, are we really going to suspend a three time and reigning Super Bowl champion for a quarter of the season based on wording like “more probable than not”? The report the NFL released is a bunch of maybes. It never says that the Patriots definitively did anything. This would never stand up in a court of law and is certainly not grounds for penalties of this magnitude.
Lastly, fans and the media are piling on the Patriots simply because they are the Patriots. I realize that fans of the 31 other NFL teams are just taking pleasure in this because New England beats their favorite team every year. The Patriots is very easy to dislike, but that doesn’t mean they should be treated more harshly than the other 31 teams would be in this situation. Am I really supposed to believe that the penalties would be the same if this was Andy Dalton and the Bengals in a regular season game? Come on now. Also, you are lying to yourself if you think Brady and the Pats are the only team that has ever done this so their QB could better grip the football. The only difference New England got caught. Big-time sports are high-stakes and the most competitive thing on planet Earth. I’m not going to fault any or team athlete that pushes the envelope in an attempt to gain an edge. If you do not do it, somebody you are competing against probably will. I also have no issue with Brady and company not cooperating with the investigation. 99.9% of people would not have been forthcoming either.
None of this changes the fact that the Patriots did break the rules and should be punished in some way. While I think is more likely that the suspension will be cut in half on appeal and that will be the only change we see, I feel the suspension and loss of draft picks should be lifted completely and the fine should stand. I am hardly sympathetic to the Patriots or their cause, but they were completely railroaded and made an example of here. It does not sit well with me and I truly hope these penalties are brought down a few notches.