As we all know by now, something suspicious happened with the footballs in last Sunday's game between the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts. It's being alleged that the Patriots purposely deflated balls in order to have them at Tom Brady's preferred level of grip. While it makes sense that a team would want to do whatever they can to make their star quarterback comfortable, especially in a cold weather game, I think we are all taking the severity of these claims a bit too seriously. If Bill Belichick is the sole individual behind this mass conspiracy to beat one team in one game against a team they've already beaten once, then I admit that as a Patriots fan, I don't love that. It does add to the idea that Belichick and the Pats feel they're above the rules and will take any advantage to win. And I do feel that if there is some conceivable way to possibly prove that the coach knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that this was happening, he should absolutely face the usual fine of $25,000 for such an offense. But can we all pump the brakes on this talk of suspension, firing, or a public beheading at Gillette Stadium for reparations.
We as Patriots fans do start to sound like battered spouses in denial about our relationship when we blindly defend what the Patriots do by saying "Well everyone is doing it" or "Is it really that big a deal?". And I completely get why those responses are mocked. But does that make them any less true? Is it that these balls were that much flatter than your typical game day football, or did they seem just a tick lighter once the Colts looked up at the scoreboard at halftime? Isn't it impossible that the cold weather had an affect? And this could just be a defense mechanism I've developed as a fan that is always in the position of defending our man, but are we to believe that it really had an impact on Sunday's game? The Patriots were dominant in all three phases of the game. I for one can't imagine that could be attributed to the fraction of weight that could be added to a football. It's also not crazy to ask, is it really the Patriots job or the refs? Aaron Rodgers likes a tighter ball and says they put more air in it and leave it up to the refs to notice. As I see it, that isn't wrong. I think it's a flaw in the game if you leave it up to the teams to check things like that. In college, I was never allowed to grade my own papers. It should be on the refs to make sure every ball is up to snuff.
Now that I've voiced my obligatory defense of Belichick and the Patriots, I'll wave the white flag and concede that if the Pats are found guilty of this, yes, they should be punished. They should be fined, as the league specifies, $25,000. I'm even willing to say that if the league sees this as a huge problem they want to get rid of, take a late round draft pick away. I think that would be a bit much but it's how you send a message. What is absolutely insane to me is the idea's that the likes of Michael Wilbon and Bob Kravitz have thrown out there this week. The notion that the Patriots should have to give up their spot in the Super Bowl or that Belichick should be fired or removed from the game is childish. It's the equivalent of a whiney kid crying that their older brother beat him, and crying to mommy that she should do something. It's people who don't like Belichick's attitude with the media and unapologetic style of winning. Brad Johnson and Aaron Rodgers have both been on record as discussing ball tampering. Should we go back and take away wins from them? Of course not. It's the mentality of a crybaby brat who didn't get their way.
We can say all we want that this was a reason for the Patriots win. We can say the only reason they've won 3 Super Bowls and been to 5 is because of their "chronic cheating". We can even say that Belichick is taking the air from the balls and selling it to help fund ISIS. It all makes for fun sports radio talk. But in the end, the Patriots were doing 75 on the highway and got pulled over. It wasn't a factor against the Colts. It will not be a factor against the Seahawks. Isn't that all we should be concerned with. But hey, ESPN and local sports talk have to fill up two weeks, so I get it... Oh and one last thing. No matter your stance on this, can my tongue and cheek title be the last to refer to this as "Deflate Gate"? Watergate was the name of a hotel. "Gate" is not a suffix that means scandal or conspiracy. It amazes me that it took this idiot to point that out.