As Vince Lombardi famously once said, “What the hell is going on out there?” What an unbelievable scandalous year for the National Football League. You really can’t make this stuff up. The Gods are punishing Roger Goodell for something. Perhaps karma has it’s way of working given all the greed that folks point to with regard to the NFL and its business practices.
So what happens now? As the facts roll in, it appears that the NFL found that 11 of the 12 footballs New England provided for Sunday’s lopsided 45-7 victory in the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts were under-inflated by as much as two pounds per square inch of pressure. The home team in an NFL game is required to provide 12 footballs (plus 12 backups). Almost all of them, however, came in at the same, illegal level, 2 pounds lighter? The ball is supposed to be inflated to between 12.5 pounds and 13.5 pounds per square inch, so they were deflated about 16 percent below the legal minimum.
No one is suggesting that the Patriots weren’t the better team. No one is suggesting that deflated balls made a difference in the outcome of the game. The better team clearly won, but that’s not the point here, is it? How many times are Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots going to be allowed to engage in extracurricular activities off the field in an attempt to take advantage of situations on the field? How many times will they be allowed to cheat without real sanctions and taking responsibility for their actions? Fines, losing draft picks – been there done that. It obviously wasn’t a permanent deterrent. If SpyGate had never happened, this likely wouldn’t be as big an issue as it is, but it did and so it is… Think about it, the Patriots have been caught twice now. Are the Patriots just bad criminals that were caught both times they attempted to gain an unfair advantage? Does anyone really think that they’ve only committed two offenses and were caught both times? How many things have they gotten away with?
Did the deflated balls help Tom Brady throw them better in the inclement weather? Did deflating them make the balls easier to catch? Did it make them easier for the Patriots’ running backs and receivers to hold so they wouldn’t fumble? The answer(s) don’t really matter. The point is, the rules specifically state what the inflation of the balls should be; they were checked by the referee 2:15 prior to kickoff and were properly inflated and then presented to the Patriots’ ball boy on the sidelines. Is there anyone out there who feels that the ball boy was a rogue rebel acting on his own? Didn’t think so. But whoever he is, he will soon be as famous as Monica Lewinsky. The shame of it all is that it’s all very Nixon-like. Much like Nixon, who would have won his election just by showing up and didn’t need to commit third-rate crimes with a firs- rate cover up, the Patriots were going to beat the bejesus out of the Colts anyway so there was no need to do it. As it turns out, Bill Belichick is a cheat-addict. Or Bill Beli-cheat as HOF coach Don Shula put it.
So what should the penalty for Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots be? Should Belichick be banned from coaching in Super Bowl XLIX? Should he be suspended for next year? How about one game for each ball, 11? I would be shocked if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell doesn’t throw the book at Bill Belichick and the Patriots if for no other reason than to take pressure off himself and all the scandalous activity he’s been involved in with the Ray Rice video. I don’t see any way that Goodell let’s media week occur at Super Bowl XLIX in Phoenix, allowing the media to attack this issue like a pack of wolves surrounding its impending feast.
After SpyGate, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots can’t be given any benefit of the doubt with regard to their participation in the sport with the intention of doing so fairly; they just can’t. Fines for both Belichick and the Patriots franchise? That’s absolutely in play. Loss of draft picks and possible draft pick compensation to the Indianapolis Colts? Yup, that’s in play too. But if Bill Belichick gets to coach Super Bowl XLIX, there will seriously be no hope for fair competition in the NFL and Roger Goodell will end up with a permanent PR problem so big that it will engulf the sport. I’m going to wager widgets on the Patriots to win Super Bowl XLIX whether Belichick is on the sidelines or not, because I think they not only have the better team, but they match up well. But this bozo has to go. It’s become insulting and offensive to fans of the game at this point…