The whole DeflateGate thing really has become insufferable.
We’re three weeks removed from the controversy, which somehow becomes more and more annoying every day. The NFL is dragging its feet with the investigation, and that’s produced multiple leaks. Those leaks lead to hot sports takes, and those takes are leaving an increasing amount of pundits with their own feet in their mouths.
Perhaps no one has flubbed on a DeflateGate take more than legendary wide receiver Jerry Rice. The San Francisco 49ers legend is one of the greatest players ever to play the game, which can’t be denied. Rice’s post-playing work as an analyst, however, has produced mixed results.
Rice recently decried the New England Patriots in the wake of DeflateGate with some pretty strong words about the ethics of football.
“I’m going to be point blank, I feel like it’s cheating …” Rice told radio host Jim Rome on Jan. 22, according to FOXSports.com ” … because you have an edge up on your opponent and it’s unfortunate that it happened. I’m not saying the outcome of the game would have been different or anything like that because (the Indianapolis Colts) got beat 45-7 (in the AFC title game), but (the Patriots) still had an edge.”
That seems pretty harmless and right in line with everything else said at the time.
The issue, though, is ProFootballTalk.com stumbled across an ESPN video of Rice admitting to using Stickum during his playing days. Rice used the product to get a better grip on the football (sound familiar?), even though it was outlawed in 1981 — four years before Rice’s 1985 rookie season.
No one — aside from crazy people — can say that Rice’s use of Stickum is the sole reason he’s the greatest receiver of all time. We’re going out on a limb and saying Rice’s final football destination was going to be Canton, Stickum or no Stickum.
So I’m not going to label Rice a “cheater” despite his admitted use of Stickum. He certainly wasn’t the only one doing it, and when it comes to violating the rules, there are far worse indictments to be made for worse violations of the rules.
While I don’t think Rice is a cheater, it’s clear to see he’s a hypocrite. Everyone in the NFL (and all of professional sports) looks for some sort of advantage, even if it’s a little bit shady. But it’s laughable for Rice to say “I feel like it’s cheating” when talking about DeflateGate when he spent his career lathering up the Stickum on Sundays. It’s hypocrisy in its purest form.
Rice’s defense appears to be ignorance. He tweeted this Saturday morning after the video was unearthed by PFT.
I apologize ppl after doing my research about stickum! The NFL banned this in 1981. All players did it! #equalplayingfield—
Jerry Rice (@JerryRice) February 07, 2015
Rice claiming he’s just now learning the rules “after doing my research” is insane and hardly believable. Especially considering he said in the actual ESPN interview that using Stickum “might be a little illegal.”
But whatever. Hopefully Rice has plenty of Stickum on his hands the next time he emerges from his glass house ready to throw some stones.
Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images