Full disclosure: I watch football occasionally. Apparently everyone and his mother has an opinion on the latest pseudo-scandal to warrant the over-used “-gate” suffix: #deflategate. The New England Patriots apparently underinflated 11 of 12 game balls in their playoff victory against the Colts.
Yesterday, I was in a restaurant talking at a very reasonable volume with my wife about under inflated balls and a woman across the way loudly asked, “What do you think about that?” She started answering her own question before I had even said anything: “Cheaters! That’s what they are. It’s what they’ve always been. It doesn’t matter if they would have won anyway. It’s the principle of the thing! They should be punished to the full extent.” Etc.
I was just trying to make small talk with my wife while we ate our sandwiches after my fifth child’s newborn checkup. I didn’t care all that much, and I don’t care much even now. But let’s go over it anyway. Because why not?
First, some questions:
- Did the Patriots really use under inflated balls?
- Were the balls tampered with by the Patriots after the officials checked them?
- If so, who was responsible for the tampering?
- Would it have made any difference at all if the balls had been “properly” inflated?
- Even if it wouldn’t have made a difference to the game, should the Patriots be punished on the principle of the thing?
- Is much of the ire over deflategate due to the fact that most people just hate the Patriots?
And here are my answers, in case you care. Hint: You shouldn’t.
- We don’t know. The officials did check them. If the under inflated balls had been prepared that way before they passed muster, then it is the officials’ fault, and the Patriots were within legal bounds. It might be a low move on their part. But it wouldn’t be illegal. That’s on the officials.
- If the balls were tampered with after the officials checked them, it is likely that Tom Brady and his equipment team are responsible. As John Madden said, the decision to tamper with the balls would have had to go through Tom Brady.
- No. The Patriots destroyed the Colts. 45-7 is not a close game. At all. Even the Colts recognize this.
- If the Patriots did knowingly tamper with the balls after the officials checked them, then they should be punished. But not in any way that connects to the outcome of that particular game, in my opinion. Like I said, the Patriots destroyed the Colts.
So there you go. Go ahead and sound off in the comments. I’m sure we’ll all listen carefully to each other and be civil and all that. Or not.