Friday, May 8, 2015


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By now, almost everyone knows about the big “Deflate-Gate” scandal that involved the New England Patriots of the N.F.L. and their playoff game last January. The Patriots were accused of intentionally letting the air out of some of the game balls, thus making it easier to grip in cold and wet weather, to gain an advantage for their All Star Quarterback, Tom Brady.

In a week 11 game against the Indianapolis Colts, their equipment manager suspected foul play when safety Mike Adams picked off two of Tom Brady’s passes and the balls, he said, felt “squishy”. After months of investigation by the National Football league and lead investigator Tom Wells, they have concluded that the 2 equipment managers, Jim McNally and John Jastremski, had indeed illegally deflated the balls after they were checked by officials in pre-game. Although the report specifically did not say Tom Brady was involved, it found it incomprehensible that he did not know about it, and text messages between the 2 and Tom Brady strongly suggest that Brady was the instigator. So why is this a big deal? It’s just air in footballs, right?

Who cares? Well, the league should care, and we all should feel a little cheated by this. As a former official, it is our job to see the game is administered fairly for both teams. Let the players decide by skill alone the outcome of the contest, with neither team having an illegal advantage. That is why there are rules. You and I may not like the rules, and some don’t make much sense, but the rules are the rules, and must be administered as fairly as humanly possible. The bottom line in all of this is the Patriots cheated, period.

Although the Patriots were much better than the Indianapolis Colts, and would have probably won anyway, the Patriots victory is now tarnished. There are several to blame for this, including the League itself, the officials, The Patriots, and those involved, including Tom Brady. The league is responsible for allowing this investigation to take way too long and hoping it would go away because the Patriots owner, Bob Kraft, is on several committees, including the broadcast, compensation, and competition committees. The league is also at fault for allowing the game balls back into the hands of the team once checked. The officials should have been much more diligent in their duties, and should have known something was amiss. They blew it. You can feel a football and tell if it is underinflated very easily, ask any High School umpire. Finally, the Patriots are really at fault because they have a history of not quite playing by the rules, and allowing Tom Brady and the others to KNOWINGLY cheat.

The real story though is what does this teach our youth about competition? That win at all costs is all that matters? That cheating to win is acceptable?

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but when I played I wanted to beat the best of the other team without any outside influences. I wanted to win because my team was better, not having to win by cheating. If you have to cheat at anything, then you are saying you’re not good enough to win by yourself. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of ways to win within the rules that some might consider cheating but really aren’t. An example would be an offensive lineman trying to get away with holding without getting caught. That is an official’s judgement call, sometimes you win, sometimes not. That’s not cheating because it’s in the eye of the official, and that varies. The Patriots knowingly and on purpose cheated, and the sad part is they didn’t have to. They were much better than the Colts that day. So why do it?

I really don’t know why. The only thing I can think of is that is the Culture of the team. This is not their first transgression, remember “Spygate”? Makes you wonder what else they have gotten by with, doesn’t it? Now, the league must punish a Super Bowl Champion, they have no choice. If they don’t, they are saying it is o.k. for the Patriots to cheat, but nobody else. I wonder how the New Orleans Saints will feel about that. Their coach, Sean Payton was suspended for a year for NOT KNOWING that his team put out a cash bounty on certain players. Coach Belichick said he knew nothing of the footballs being deflated. Will he get the same treatment? Tom Brady, the all world, do no wrong, headliner of the league, has been the poster boy for what to do and how to act. Will he be punished? And what about the equipment people, who actually did the deed? Tough questions for a league that prides itself on its “Brand”.

This stupidity by people who should know better sets a bad example for everyone. This is the perfect example of why you never want to cheat. Look at all the people who are now in this mess who really had nothing to do with it. The scouts, the front office people, the security people, the stadium workers, are all affected by this. Would you put your friends and family in a situation that would cause people to look at you with a wary eye? Do you want people thinking you are a cheater, or part of a culture of cheating? I personally do not think this matter should have gone this far. Now that it has, the league has to punish their top team in front of the whole world because someone cheated. Coach Belichick probably needs suspended, the two employees need to be fired, The League’s marquee quarterback needs to be suspended for some games, maybe half of them, and a huge fine needs to be paid by the team for “lack of institutional control”. Sound harsh?

Ask the New Orleans Saints if that’s too much for cheaters.

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