A Lot of Hot (and Cold) Air: My Take on "Deflategate"

I have kept my silence all week. But no more. I can’t. This week has made me question any faith in humanity I have and has ripped to shreds any remaining respect I had for the news media. That’s well and truly gone, now. 

First, I am a Patriots fan. Die hard. And I am so excited for them to play in their 6th Superbowl with Brady and Bill B and watch my 7th Patriots Superbowl (remember, there was life before Brady…1996. They lost to the Packers). I expected this week to be full of discussion on the awesome matchup between the Seahawks D and the Patriots offense. Instead, I have been subjected to the most insipid, ridiculous, non-story ever. Let me also say that if the EVIDENCE (remember that stuff?) comes out and proves the Patriots guilty of tampering with the balls, they deserve the fine stipulated in the rules. 

May I also add that the NFL clearly needs to monitor this whole game-ball situation more closely as Aaron Rogers (see the story here) admits to over-inflating his game balls. And Brad Johnson PAID someone to tamper with the footballs for the SUPER BOWL (read that story here) so this is kind of a league-wide issue. And it’s been going on for a while (Brad Johnson played in the Superbowl more than 10 years ago).

Now, I will address the rantings and ravings of the lynch-mob media/fans that are determined to hang the Patriots for the slightest infraction because of “Spygate” (insert sarcastic shudder) and now the unending vitriol that is “Deflategate” (insert eye-roll). 

Let me be clear. What the Patriots did filming the Jets sidelines was WRONG. It was wrong because the league sent out a memo following the 2006 season saying “stop doing it”. Up to that point, ALL the teams were doing it. Don’t be naive, you know it’s true. Moving on. They were wrong, it was cheating, and they shouldn’t have done it. They took their punishment and we all should have moved on. 

But let me also be clear, Bill never once lied or covered it up. And to back it up, here’s an article from September 14, 2007, which contains quotes from Bill Bellichick: (this is what you call evidence, ladies and gentlemen)

Belichick, however, accepted full responsibility “for the actions that led to tonight’s ruling. Once again, I apologize to the Kraft family and every person directly or indirectly associated with the New England Patriots for the embarrassment, distraction and penalty my mistake caused.”

“I also apologize to Patriots fans and would like to thank them for their support during the past few days and throughout my career,” Belichick said in a statement issued by the team. “As the commissioner acknowledged, our use of sideline video had no impact on the outcome of last week’s game. We have never used sideline video to obtain a competitive advantage while the game was in progress.” (original ESPN article here)

He owned up to it. Immediately. So you really can’t say that Bill Bellichick is a “liar”. In fact, I dare you to find me a time where YOU CAN PROVE, with FACTUAL EVIDENCE, that he lied about doing something or not doing something. 

In the same article, Gooddell (who needs to be fired so badly for his mishandling of virtually every “scandal” during his tenure has been atrocious) stated that the Patriots received no material advantage for doing that. As for the “supposed” filming of the Rams walk-through, here’s the Boston Herald’s retraction statement: 

It reads: “On Feb. 2, 2008, the Boston Herald reported that a member of the New England Patriots’ video staff taped the St. Louis Rams’ walk-through on the day before Super Bowl XXXVI. While the Boston Herald based its Feb. 2, 2008, report on sources that it believed to be credible, we now know that this report was false, and that no tape of the walk-through ever existed. 

Prior to the publication of its Feb. 2, 2008, article, the Boston Herald neither possessed nor viewed a tape of the Rams’ walk-through before Super Bowl XXXVI, nor did we speak to anyone who had. We should not have published the allegation in the absence of firmer verification.

The Boston Herald regrets the damage done to the team by publication of the allegation, and sincerely apologizes to its readers and to the New England Patriots’ owners, players, employees and fans for our error.” (read more here)

So those of you who are still on that, it wasn’t real, it didn’t happen, it’s over, please move on. 

Since then, the Patriots have done NOTHING to incur the NFL’s ire. Nothing. Except, of course, win. Which we all know that winning breeds contempt and this whole ball-deflation witch hunt is just that: contempt. over-blown nonsense and contempt. 

Because I am a rational human being, I like to look at things logically. So lets do that, shall we? 

“fact” 1: 11 of the 12 Patriots balls were found to be under-inflated by 2 lbs PSI. Let me say this, it’s from ONE SOURCE (unsubstantiated) and just look at how the whole “Rams filmed! We have one unsubstantiated source that says so!” fiasco turned out for the Herald. Not so good. I mean, being realistic, how is it possible that the footballs were under-inflated by EXACTLY 2 pounds each? And was it 2 pounds from 13.5 PSI? Because the acceptable range is 12.5-13.5 PSI. Is is possible that the one UNSUBSTANTIATED source wasn’t correct? Gee…that never happens. (eye roll…I need to stop being so sarcastic, it’s hard to write that way.) In Bill’s Best Press Conference Ever (keep reading for more on that) he stated that what they do to affect the TEXTURE of the ball artificially raises the PSI by 1 lb. They found that once the balls moved from inside the building to the oh-so-lovely 50 and below, freezing rain conditions that were in place Sunday night for the AFC championship game, the pressure in the ball equalized and lost 1.5 psi. Once they brought the ball in and let it set for a bit, it had come up .5 PSI, leading to an overall loss of 1 lb. Now, that’s assuming that the balls were properly inflated to between 12.5-13.5 PSI once they went off to the refs to approve them. That is up to the refs to determine, NOT the Patriots, thus the onus is on them, not the team. 

“fact” 2: Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are LIARS and CHEATERS and they ALWAYS WILL BE (I feel like I should add “nah nah nah nah nah naaaaaa” at the end of that one). Well…that’s not true. Bill owned up to the filming. He never once denied it, and doesn’t deny it to this day (see: 1/24/15 press conference, we’ll get to that gem later…) Tom Brady was never even implicated in the whole “Spygate” nonsense. 

People like to bring up baby-momma Brigit Moynahan as proof of TB’s shadiness. Let’s set that record straight, too:

Moynahan was in a three-year relationship with screenwriter Scott Rosenberg.[2][46] She dated NFL quarterback Tom Brady from 2004 until December 14, 2006. Her representative confirmed their split to People in December 2006, stating that they had “amicably ended their three-year relationship several weeks ago”.[47]
On February 18, 2007, Moynahan’s representative confirmed to People that she was more than three months pregnant and that Brady is the father.[48] In August 2007, she gave birth to a baby boy.[49][50] In a July 2008 interview in Harper’s Bazaar, Moynahan discussed her willingness to raise her son as a single mother.[51] Despite media reports that Moynahan and Brady have an acrimonious relationship, it was revealed that the two have maintained a civil relationship since the birth of their son.[52]
So…there’s no proof (I mean real, factual proof, not trolls on the internet) that either of them is a liar. So when they said Thursday that they had no knowledge of the issue with the balls, we have no reason to believe otherwise. (see more info here). 
“fact” 3: the deflated balls give the team a competitive advantage. It actually gives the team a competitive disadvantage. I’ll post the link to the article and the video that ESPN has since taken down (not sure why that is…oh yeah, guilty Pats means better ratings…) 
Here’s the article. And the video:
I’m getting irritated even writing this, because it is 100% a non-story that has been %1000 blown out of proportion by the media. The Patriots actually played better in the second half with the properly inflated balls (which, when tested after the game, had not lost as much air, thus eliminating the theory that they were tampered with in any way). 

And all of you crying about the “pro QBs being able to tell”, let’s break that down, hmm? Sure the ones on ESPN who have reasons to hate the Patriots (Brunell, seriously?) are all going to say they can feel the difference. In his presser today (what a fountain of information that was!) Bill said that the QBs couldn’t tell with any consistency which balls were inflated 2 lbs lighter, and couldn’t tell the difference AT ALL when on deflated by 1 lb or less. 

Now onto the ACTUAL facts of this story.

Fact 1: We have not heard from the NFL’s investigation and DATA (details, evidence, choose your own synonym) about: 
     a. how deflated the footballs were (exact amounts for each football – come on, were they all really deflated EXACTLY 2 lbs? ALL 11 of them?) 
     b. definitive evidence that the weather COULD NOT have caused this drop in PSI OR definitive evidence that they were tampered with.
     c. There’s all these reports that the “Ravens told the Colts” or that “Mike Adams noticed it in November”, but I can’t find evidence (actual evidence, not “a source” from an article written after the AFC Championship game) of either thing actually happening. And I do mean NO EVIDENCE. Nothing. I looked. I’m thorough like that. No actual word from the NFL on any of that, and I feel like that would have been reported to them (and leaked to us) if it was true. 

Fact 2: The Patriots played BETTER with the properly inflated balls. BETTER. If they were trying to cheat, and if, as all the lynch-mob has been screaming that “they’ve probably done this for years!”, then don’t you think they would have known that under-inflated balls are not so good? That’s been my question since the beginning. It makes absolutely no logical sense, especially given the EVIDENCE (there’s that darn word again…) 

Fact 3: apparently, the refs inflate the balls, because they were handed two them 2.5 hours before the game and the Patriots asked for them to be inflated to 12.5 PSI (the lower end of the scale). That’s the chain of custody, so once the Patriots hand the balls over to the zebras, I say it’s on the zebras. It’s not exactly shocking, the refs did NOT have a good playoff run, making major, game-changing mistakes in pretty much every game. 

Fact 4: Bill’s presser today was awesome. And telling. What he said was fascinating and you can think he’s lying all you want, but answer me this question: why would he get up there and lie his butt off like that? If it does come out that they tampered with the footballs and he knew about it, that press conference would guarantee him a suspension at minimum and might get him fired. Why would he risk it if he didn’t genuinely believe that this is all a bunch of nonsense and the Patriots did not cheat? 

Fact 5: there is adequate scientific evidence that weather could be a logical explanation, not even using Bill’s simulation he discussed today (See the epic presser here, and listen to the Q&A for more gems.). I present to you THREE (yes, THREE) scientific explanations. Lots of math. Lots of science. All the same answer: weather could have done it.

Teenagers recreating conditions and testing the balls (video)
Head Smart Labs article  (you have to scroll down a bit)

But there are some unanswered questions:

1. Why is the NFL moving so slow on this? Is it because they have no evidence or don’t want to admit that it was the officials who goofed? I think Gooddell doesn’t want the scandal on the refs so he’s throwing mud at everyone’s favorite villain. Why Bill B is a villain I’ll never know. He may be the greatest coach ever, so again with the whole success breeds contempt…I guess I could see that. I don’t get it, but I can see how people would feel that way.  

2. why weren’t the Indianapolis balls under-inflated? I don’t know. Perhaps Andrew Luck likes his footballs the same way Aaron Rogers does, so that even though they lost pressure, because they were inflated toward the higher end to start, the loss didn’t matter. Or perhaps the Colts footballs were stored in a cold luggage area on the team bus before the game instead of a nice, room-temperature building, giving them time to acclimate to the weather well before being checked and thus, reached equilibrium, or a better equilibrium, to the elements. Maybe they don’t rub the footballs and do what the Patriots do to get them set for TB. Maybe the refs didn’t check the footballs thoroughly. Don’t know. 

I just can not even understand how this has become such a big deal. At the most, it’s an over-zealous ball boy or negligent refs and it’s far more likely that the real culprit was the 50-and-dropping temperature and the freezing rain. In any case, the Patriots could have beaten the Colts playing with a beach ball, so it’s a non-issue. And IF, as it’s been claimed by so many “Off With Their Heads!” members of the sensationalist media, that the Patriots have been doing this, why haven’t we heard about it before? Why haven’t we heard from the Chiefs or the Dolphins or anyone else who intercepted Tom Brady this year? Where is the PROOF that the Colts said something in November? Where is the PROOF that this was anything other than the weather? 

WHERE IS THE FREAKING JOURNALISM THAT USED TO LOOK FOR PROOF INSTEAD OF FREAKING OUT ABOUT BEING SCOOPED??????? 

Where’s the ACTUAL journalism? My goodness, the guys who broke the big stories of the last century are rolling their eyes and turning over in their graves. You can’t call this journalism. It’s biased, bitter, sensationalized propaganda at best. Give me proof. Give me something other than quoting each other’s “reports” from “sources” as substantiated facts and do some actual reporting. Dig. Get to the bottom. Because I’m done. I’ve said my piece, I’ve backed it up with evidence, and I’m done. I’ve lost all respect for a lot of media guys I used to love, (Jason LaConfora, you’re still okay) 
And one final thought. I know the internet trolls are bringing up that the Ravens suggested the K-Balls were flat during the divisional round. No one touches the K-Balls except when kicking them, they’re shipped straight to the refs. (for more on NFL ball protocol, read here)
One more closing thought, as for other Patriots “scandals”: the formation with a receiver declaring himself ineligible is completely legal. It’s not the Patriots fault the Ravens weren’t prepared to deal with that. 1000 percent legal. So was the Tuck Rule game (at the time – the rule has since changed, but that wasn’t until 2013 and the Patriots knew it back then because they lost a game to the Jets because of it). So don’t bring those up as evidence of the “cheating culture”, it just makes you sound stupid.  
And now I’m really done. Drop the mic, I’m out. We’re on to the Super Bowl. On to the Seahawks. Go Pats!
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