‘Deflategate’ has occupied the sporting news. Is it important? Should the New England Patriots be scrutinized more seriously than other franchises? Sadly, the answer is yes. Although the air pressure in 11 out of 12 footballs was insufficient, it is doubtful that the outcome would have been different. Many Patriots and Patriot fans have used the situation as a rallying cry; they feel it’s ‘us against the world.’
Head Coach Bill Belichick lives on the edge. His actions have raised questions about his ethics several times throughout his professional career. When he was finally caught during ‘spygate,’ for many NFL fans it was an ‘aha’ moment. Although Belichick denied any knowledge about the game balls being deflated in an unusual lengthy news conference, he did not convince his detractors.
When quarterback Tom Brady held a press conference later in the day, doubts increased. Former professional football players and coaches claimed that they had no doubt that Brady was involved. ‘The balls don’t deflate themselves.’ Brady’s ‘squeaky clean’ image has been forever tarnished.
New England’s owner Robert Kraft has a close personal relationship with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The League has failed to comment about the incident and does not plan to until the Super Bowl is over.
The latest result of the investigation is disturbing. The focus is on a New England Patriots’ locker room attendant who was seen taking footballs from the official’s locker room to another location by a surveillance camera.
Former NFL quarterback Mark Brunell spoke about ‘deflategate’ on ESPN. He said that if the balls were deflated, Tom Brady knew about it and asked for it. He said that no equipment manager would take it upon themselves to take such action. Former Oakland Raiders Head Coach and announcer John Madden also claimed the Brady was responsible for the incident. In a ‘round about’ way Belichick did the same on Thursday.
Tom Brady is undoubtedly one of the most talented and successful professional quarterbacks of all time. This will be the sixth Super Bowl in which he will lead the Patriots. He has won three; winning a fourth would place him among the elite of all time. Only Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana are in that enviable position at the present time. They will stand alone in one aspect because neither suffered a single loss on the big stage.
Before ‘deflategate’ the only questions surrounding Brady have been in relation to questionable calls by referees in Brady’s favor. After he was knocked down or sacked, he often received a called for penalty after petitioning the referee.
Belichick is a master at psychological warfare on the gridiron. He will use this to unite his team, constantly reinforcing the idea that it’s them against the rest of the football world. He defeated the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Championship by employing six wide receivers, one of which declared himself ineligible. He may walk a fine line in regards to the rules, but he often simply outcoaches his opponent.
Robert Kraft’s angry defense of his organization and his team is nothing more than a smokescreen and an additional move to unite the Patriots prior to Sunday evening’s game.
‘Deflategate’ may become more of a distraction to the Seattle Seahawks than the New England Patriots.
By James Turnage