When it comes to “DeflateGate,” there’s no shortage of hot air.
The debate centering around the New England Patriots’ alleged tampering with footballs in the AFC Championship Game already is reaching its breaking point. Sure, it has been just a couple days since the Patriots put the finishing touches on a 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts, but stories move quickly in the fast lane of the Information Superhighway, where hot takes and larger-than-life assertions pay the tolls.
Here’s what we know: The Patriots are being heavily investigated by the NFL for deflating footballs. We’re also told by ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that the NFL found 11 of 12 footballs were 2 pounds of air pressure under what the rule book legislates as legal.
This story is still in its relative infancy. We don’t know what kind of punishment will come down if the Patriots truly are found guilty. We don’t know the kind of fallout that presumed punishment will bring. Will it affect the Super Bowl? Will it affect the Patriots’ roster building in coming years through the loss of draft picks or the like? Will Bill Belichick be excommunicated and sent to Siberia? What if video surfaces of the balls being deflated in an elevator? Does that change things?
And if there’s anything the NFL has taught us this season, it’s that there’s no rhyme or reason when it comes to punishment. It probably all depends on how commissioner Roger Goodell lays out his dart board.
This is a process, and at the end of the day, we probably all can agree that the Patriots aren’t playing in the Super Bowl because of PSI. But that hasn’t stopped people from saying otherwise. The backlash from this thing is insane. You have people claiming Belichick should be fired for his presumed role in this. In other instances, there are suggestions the Patriots should lose their spot in the Super Bowl over this. Don’t forget the accusations that Belichick turned Gillette Stadium into his own cheaters’ playhouse. And maybe the Siberia thing isn’t far-fetched when some are calling for Belichick to be banned for life.
If we wait a few hours, I’m sure we’ll eventually see someone suggest the Krafts be stripped of their ownership and the team be moved to London and become the Old England Patriots (although give it a few years and this probably will happen regardless because money).
But it’s not just columnists and talking heads itching to tear down Belichick’s kingdom who are being ridiculous. The Patriots are at fault, too. They could have won that game Sunday playing with beach balls. Better yet, they probably would have won even with Geno Smith under center. So, why break rules? Why does Belichick or Brady or anyone else with the Flying Elvis on his sleeve need to cheat? You’re better than just about everyone else without pushing those boundaries. When you (allegedly) do things like this, you just open the door for all of that to be torn down, which it potentially is.
That leaves Patriots fans scrambling to defend the team because it’s what fans of any team do. Patriots fans should be frustrated by this, and not because a guy wrote a column. They should be frustrated because their team’s legacy is tarnished — fair or unfair — by what their team did both now and in the past. Allegedly, of course. Because of all that, the complaints come off as whining.
It’s just all so tiring and stupid. It’s situations like these that make sports borderline insufferable at times. I mean, we are throwing Internet haymakers over how much air was or wasn’t in a football. It’s all so silly.
But that’s the reality. It’s the world we live in now. Everyone’s at fault, and it’s just a bummer. Hopefully when Feb. 1 rolls around, the Patriots and Seattle Seahawks will play a fine football game. Even more importantly, let’s hope there’s no controversy.
Thumbnail photo via Rick Osentoski/Associated Press