First off, can we please stop calling any incident involving a conspiracy a “gate”? Watergate was a long time ago and surely we can do better than describe each cover up of national interest as a “gate” issue. The Patriots are involved in another possible cheating scandal. They are being investigated for providing footballs that were under inflated. The NFL is doing the investigation after officials took a ball out of play on Sunday’s game to check the weight.
New England is no stranger to cheating as we found out as they allegedly spied on the Rams before the 2002 Super Bowl to gain an advantage and video taped many teams’ signals in later seasons. Belichick may be a football genius, but he is not above bending the rules to help his team.
In case you are wondering what the big deal is with under inflated footballs I will fill you in. These balls would be easier to throw as the QB could grip them better. In rainy conditions like we saw in the AFC Title Game that would have helped Tom Brady a good bit. I am guessing the Pats would have set it up so the Colts did not get a hold of these special balls. Would that have been possible? I am not sure, but why would they bother deflating the balls if they could not keep them away from Andrew Luck?
Also these underweight balls would be easier for receivers to catch, especially in wet conditions. I don’t recall many drops on the part of Patriots receivers. Let’s don’t forget the running game that killed the Colts defense ultimately. LeGarrette Blount mashed the Indy defense on 30 carries and never once came close to fumbling the football. I don’t know if New England did cheat on the footballs for this game, but clearly there is an advantage to be had if that was the case.
The Patriots are trying to laugh this off as some crazy conspiracy. That is the best way for them to handle it as they don’t need a big distraction like this before the Super Bowl. It’s not like the NFL is going to disqualify them from the big game anyway. The worst penalty would be losing draft picks, which is pretty bad but wouldn’t affect this team in this moment.
For those out there who think a little thing like this couldn’t be the difference in a game, you best rethink it. Football is a game of inches, especially in the NFL. How many toes out of bounds have decided games? How many field goals have been wide by a few inches to lose a playoff game? How many times have defenders been so close to a pick only to have the receiver get the glory as it slipped literally through a safety’s arms? All these events have happened often. Deflated balls would definitely be a factor in a close contest if only one team got the footballs that were easier to hang onto.
I have a hard time believing Bill Belichick would do something like this. I have no doubt he would cheat to win. He has proven that. but if he knows the officials can and have checked the balls mid game before, why risk it? He certainly wouldn’t want to chance future draft picks on one game. His team was heavily favored anyway. He was 3-0 against the Andrew Luck led Colts before this game. I don’t see Belichick being afraid of the Colts and in a panic getting a low level grounds keeper to deflate the footballs. The risk was greater than the reward. But I have no evidence either way. I can only speak to the most likely scenario. Belichick is too smart in my opinion to have tried this dumb trick, even though it would have helped his offense.
We will see how this shakes out in the next few days. The NFL will not let this drag out for long. They surely won’t chance this being a big story as the Super Bowl inches closer. It should not take long for the NFL to get the results of weighing a few footballs. I don’t think they need a CSI type team to help with the testing. If the Pats are guilty then the punishment will be swift. If the balls are found to have been in spec, then hopefully this story will fade away so we can focus on the Seahawks and Patriots match up.
The Patriots can’t cry about this investigation. Once you are found to be a cheater, then the reputation is going to stick with you. They would be wise to stick to the rules as closely as possible if they don’t want an asterisk beside anymore championships. Raiders fans will never acknowledge the Pats as Super Bowl champs in the year of the tuck rule incident in the playoffs. The Rams of 2001 have not forgotten the allegations of the Patriots spying on their walk through practice before Super Bowl XXXVI. I hope this deflation story goes away quickly one way or another. But if found guilty, I have a feeling the story will only get bigger in the next 13 days leading up to the Super Bowl.