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Deflate the Patriots

I need more information before I label the Patriots “cheaters.”

Give me one piece of information. Were the footballs approved and then doctored or were they approved incorrectly?

The conversation surrounding DEFLATE-GATE far too often surrounds the Colts. The Colts have nothing to do with this. The Patriots crushed the Colts due to YPC (yards per carry) and not PSI (pounds per square inch). We need to know if DEFLATE-GATE goes any deeper than one game and how is it executed.

First, the rules of football preparation are vital to know. As it relates to the footballs used by Tom Brady, these are not the “K” balls which are treated like gold from Fort Knox. Game balls for each team can be used all week at practice. NFL rules actually stipulate 12 balls are provided by each team and should be approved by the team’s quarterback. The balls are taken to the referees’ locker room 2 hours and 15 minutes prior to kickoff. Ball boys are in possession after the referee approves the balls. Although the “K” balls are watched and protected by a league-paid employee, the regular game balls remain in the possession of a team-employed equipment manager. Although there is harsh language that the equipment manager cannot deface the ball in any way, there are also millions of people running free after removing a mattress tag.

We know two things for a fact: 1. The footballs used by Tom Brady were approved; and, (according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN’s report, 2. Eleven of the 12 balls were two pounds below the 12.5 to 13.5 acceptable range of PSI after the game.

So it’s really quite simple. If referee Walt Anderson failed to do his job, the Patriots did not cheat. The Patriots did nothing wrong if they gave under-inflated balls to the referee hoping for approval. Tom Brady has said before that he prefers deflated footballs. It makes perfect sense that New England would try to slip past a ref partially deflated balls. If Walt Anderson says Tom Brady can use those game balls, he did nothing wrong by using those game balls.

If the balls were within guidelines, correctly approved by referee Walt Anderson and returned to New England for use in the game, it is a violation to change an approved ball. “If any individual alters the footballs, or if a non-approved ball is used in the game, the person responsible and, if appropriate, the head coach or other club personnel will be subject to discipline, including but not limited to, a fine of $25,000.”

The NFL clearly defines this as a competitive issue or they wouldn’t have the rules in place spelling out punishment for violating the rule. If the Patriots altered game-approved footballs, they willfully and intentionally broke those rules in order to gain an advantage. There’s no other way around the fact the Patriots cheated against the Colts, if the latter is the case.

Much bigger than some flat balls in the AFC Championship game is the question of how often this occurred. If the Patriots cheated against Indianapolis, it’s impossibly naive to believe they decided to do this for the first time in this game. It’s fair to ponder how often New England entered a game with a competitive advantage. Following the flow chart to its conclusion, if New England didn’t think they were good enough to win without a competitive advantage, were they not that good to begin with?

DEFLATE-GATE does not suddenly prove the entire career of Tom Brady is a fraud. Bill Belichick didn’t win every game of his career because he might have doctored some footballs. At the same time, Brady and Belichick are forever linked by winning three, and possibly four, Super Bowls. They’re also linked through SPYGATE and DEFLATE-GATE.

If Belichick remains as head coach of the New England Patriots, we know Robert Kraft is a win-with-no-regard-for-integrity owner. He has that right. Just like the public has the right to not respect him, not just as an owner but as a man. A decision by Roger Goodell to slap New England on the wrist (anything not including suspension or heavy loss of draft picks would constitute a slap) shows just how weak he is as a commissioner. The NFLPA is very interested in how Goodell rules versus coaches and administrators after repeatedly dropping the hammer against the players. Remember, it was Goodell who said to the Saints that ignorance is not an excuse.

If the building is called the “Hall of FAME,” one must ask what are Belichick and Brady famous for? Right now they have three rings and two GATEs.