Just as "Spygate" has faded from our memories, now "Deflategate" is the hot new topic in the American sports lexicon.
|I had to dust off this little gem from 2007.|
I won't go into all the details, because if you're smart enough to be reading this, then you already know the details. I must admit it is difficult to know how to react (or overreact) to this latest New England shenanigan.
The excuse makers (i.e. Patriots sympathizers) are out en masse right now, yet nothing they say holds water.
"If under-inflating the footballs made such a difference, why didn't the officials notice?" Um... that's why this sh*tstorm started, because the officials did notice. And that's why all 24 game balls were inspected again at halftime and the Patriots' disparity was discovered.
In fact, at one point during the first half, umpire Carl Paganelli noticed the Patriots ball seemed under-inflated and brought it to referee Walt Anderson's attention. A new ball was put into play and the camera actually cut to the Patriots ball boy running to get another football out of the ball bag on the sideline. Were any of the naysayers watching this game?
"It was cold, so the footballs lost air pressure." Temperature at kick-off was 51°F. It didn't get anywhere near freezing at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. And somehow, the Colts' game balls did not lose air pressure (they were checked at halftime as well).
The problem was, as I understand it, discovered and corrected at the half. In the second half, the Patriots played with footballs which met NFL specifications. And yes, the Patriots beat the living tar out of the Colts.
Do I think tampering with the game balls made any difference in the outcome of this game? No.
So what's the big deal, you ask?
The big deal is this: The same team which was caught videotaping its opponent's defensive signals in 2007 (and punished harshly for it), has been caught cheating again.
At first glance, it appears Bill Belichick and the Patriots are still of the opinion that NFL rules and guidelines do apply to them.
However, since news of "Deflategate" broke, several former players have stepped forward to say "doctoring" footballs happens all the time.
Most surprisingly, former Super Bowl champion Brad Johnson admitted he paid a bribe of $7,500 to have Super Bowl XXXVII game balls "scuffed and ready, to get them right."
Johnson never mentioned anything about under-inflating or over-inflating, but he did covertly put money under the table to get the footballs ready to his liking.
Aaron Rodgers admitted yesterday that he likes his footballs "over-inflated."
Former Heisman Trophy winner and first round bust Matt Leinart tweeted today, "Every team tampers with footballs. Ask any QB in the league, this is ridiculous!"
Even before the Vikings/Panthers game on November 30, 2014, ball boys for both teams were seen on camera heating up game balls on the sideline before being instructed to cease and desist by NFL officials.
Clearly, doctoring footballs is something that's been happening for years. The NFL allows its very rules to be stretched a bit and that's not really the big concern here, even though that is in itself a double standard.
To me, the big concern is the track record that Belichick and the Patriots have; their lack of integrity, their total disregard for the rulebook and their relentless drive to push beyond the limits, regardless of the consequences.
Then again, this is their sixth Super Bowl appearance since 2002, and they've won three of them.
Principles and honor are nice, but the goal is to win the Lombardi Trophy. At the end of the day, nothing else really matters.
That's the cold, hard truth. And that's the cut-throat business of winning in the NFL.