The New England Patriots’s recent Deflategate scandal has hit headlines and almost overshadowed news of the upcoming Super Bowl. Of the 12 balls that New England provided for its game against the Indianapolis Colts, 11 were underinflated by 2 pounds per square inch, making catching and throwing easier. While many of those in charge defend their innocence, the blame must fall on someone. A ball boy would not have altered the balls in any way without being directed to do so. Patriots coach Bill Belichick does not claim responsibility. Tom Brady asserts that he is completely innocent of any deception.
“I picked 24 balls; that’s what I picked,” Brady said in an interview with Boston’s WEEI radio. “Whatever happened after I did it, and whatever the situation was where they measured them, I have no idea [about] any of those facts.”
Tom Brady is one of the most precise quarterbacks to ever hit the NFL. His career revolves around holding footballs. He knows how these balls are supposed to feel. He has previously stated that the perfect air pressure is 12.5 pounds per square inch. The claim that he had no idea of the ball’s adjustment is preposterous. Even if he had no hand in the actual deflation, he knew that something was off by merely holding the ball.
The fact that Brady ended the fiasco -some call it a press conference- by saying, “this isn’t ISIS. No one’s dying,” is disrespectful and ludicrous. Brady compared athletes to a terrorist group. He has no right to joke about enemies who destroy innocent lives and who require Americans to defend this nation.
Yet Brady still wants fans to feel bad for him, poor thing.
“It’s all speculation,” Brady added during the radio interview. “I personalized a lot of things and thought this was all about me, and my feelings got hurt.”
Cheating is not above Coach Belichick. His radical competitiveness has pushed him to extremes before this incident. NFL fans may remember the Spygate scandal of 2007 when the Patriots videotaped New York Jets’ defensive signals or the numerous times that Coach Belichick has falsely reported injuries.
After switching the balls at halftime to the correct inflation, the Patriots scored 28 points, ultimately winning 45-7. This statistic proves that cheating was not necessary for the New England team to win. However, it seems that the organization wanted to ensure their victory, so they believed that winning justified cheating.
The Deflategate debacle highlights a larger issue with the NFL system. The idea that “everyone cheats, and the Patriots just got caught” is harmful to the entire league. How can NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell cut the deception that pervades this level of the game?
In order to hold these athletes accountable, punishment should be strict. The investigation over this deflation is ongoing, and by the time that the league reaches a conclusion, the New England Patriots will have had an opportunity to play in the pinnacle of competition, Super Bowl XLIX. So far, this team has received no punishment for fraud. They cheated against the Colts and moved to the next round. Yes, the publicity surrounding the scandal is a distraction to practice and could negatively affect their play in the championship. However, without the proof of innocence, the Patriots should not be able to compete.
It will be impossible for me to cheer for a team that reaches the Super Bowl through underhanded and deceptive practices. Perhaps this occurrence will influence the officials’ stances toward cheating, or maybe it will simply be another scandal in the books for the New England Patriots.