Let me just say out of the gate that I’m no Patriots fan. It’s weird because it’s the closest football team to me, but I’ll cheer for the Jets (my team) and the Bills (now my team because of the Rex Ryan hiring) before the Pats. I’m not a hater, either…as I was rooting for them to beat the Colts on Sunday.
My point is that I’m coming from an objective point of view.
So the situation is that during the AFC championship game, an NFL official came out and stated that he felt that more than one of the balls were under-inflated during the game. Some people may automatically assume the footballs were “deflated”, but the fact of the matter (right now, anyway) is that they weren’t inflated to the weight they should be (which is between 12.5lbs and 13.5lbs of pressure).
The balls are weighed before the game starts and are re-weighed periodically during the game. There were two instances when the referee weighed a game ball and it was considered to be underweight.
The obvious question is…so what?
Well…an underinflated football provides a player with an easier grip on the ball itself. It helps quarterbacks throw, receivers catch, and runners hold on…especially in the torrential rain conditions that were pounding New England on Sunday evening.
The follow-up question that many people have: Don’t both teams play with the same footballs?
The answer, actually, is “No”. The Indianapolis Colts did not use the same game balls as the Patriots did. That goes to say that IF there was an advantage acquired, it would have been applicable to only ONE team…not both.
Another question people seem to have is: Who started this investigation? Some upset Colts fan?
So the final question is: What happens now?
The NFL will perform their internal investigation and attempt to confirm that numerous game balls were, in fact, underinflated. If that proves true, then the next step will be to determine whether or not this was an intentional act done by the New England organization in an effort to influence the game.
If the Patriots are found to have intentionally deflated game balls during the course of the game, then the punishment will likely be a loss of draft picks. The possibility of numerous picks or fines or even suspensions are not out of the question due to the previous situation with “Spygate” back in 2007.
My hope is that there is a perfectly good explanation for all of this. Not because I’m a Patriots fan, but because something like this is bad for the game. With all of the bad publicity that the NFL has gotten over the past year, it would be a damn shame to see 2015’s SuperBowl be played under a cloud of “cheating scandal”. The league deserves better than this.
But if they ARE found to have deliberately deflated game balls during the game…then the book needs to be thrown at Bill Belicheck. An example must be made.