Inflated out of proportion

Erik Khan,

The reigning Super Bowl Champions—the New England Patriots—have received discipline for their role in the Deflategate controversy that rocked the NFL following February’s AFC championship game versus the Indianapolis Colts.

Quite frankly, I can’t figure out what is more ridiculous: The punishment dished out by commissioner Roger Goodell or people using this controversy as a basis to discredit the Patriots starting quarterback Tom Brady’s career accomplishments.

As a result of the Wells report, Super Bowl MVP Brady received a four-game suspension, the Patriots lost their first-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft, a fourth-round pick in 2017 and was slapped with a $1 million fine. The Wells Report is a 243-page document that summarizes the findings of an investigation conducted by private investigator Ted Wells into the footballs used in the AFC championship game.

The report concluded that it is “more probable than not” that the Patriots Officials Locker Room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls after they were examined by referee Walt Anderson. The report also concluded “that it is more probable than not” that Brady was at least “generally aware” of this inappropriate activity.

It is clear that this was a makeup call for the commissioner’s horrendous handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case in which he initially suspended Rice for two games during the 2015 season. When footage was released of the incident between Rice.

— Erik Khan

Let’s be real.
Either McNally or Jastremski intentionally let some air out of the balls before the game, because Brady feels more comfortable playing with a football that has slightly less than 12.5 PSI league minimum. Just like Green Bay Packer quarterback Aaron Rodgers prefers his football to be inflated more than the league maximum of 13.5 PSI, as made apparent when he explained to CBS Broadcaster Phil Simms, “I like to push the limit to how much air we can put in the football, even go over what they allow you to do and see if the officials take air out of it.”

This is not that big of a deal and it’s “more probable than not” that Brady and Rodgers aren’t the only quarterbacks particular about their game balls. Why do I think this?

Because in 2006, Brady, along with Peyton Manning and other quarterbacks, successfully lobbied and changed the rule that prevented road teams from providing their own balls during away games.

The rule in place stated that the home team would provide balls for the game. Brady stated. “Every quarterback likes [the ball] a little different. Some like them blown up a little bit more, some a little more thin, some new, some broken in.”

Every quarterback has his preference. Brady isn’t coming out and admitting his involvement in this process because the league has no incriminating evidence against him. “More probable than not” is the phrase being used to incriminate Brady. That is just ludicrous and would never stand up in a court of law anywhere.

When the NFL had video evidence of Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers employees deliberately heating footballs during a game in December 2015 in an attempt to soften them up, which is tampering, and a very similar offense to that of the Patriots, the league punished them with a “stern warning.” When the NFL caught the Atlanta Falcons creating fake crowd noise inside their stadium through much of last season, they were fined $350,000 and forfeited a fifth round draft selection.

So how does commissioner Goodell justify the tremendous punishment he handed out to the Patriots? When you compare Deflategate to similar offenses this past season, there is no basis to do so. It is clear that this was a makeup call for the commissioner’s horrendous handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case in which he initially suspended Rice for two games during the 2015 season. When footage was released of the incident between Rice and his wife, the public was outraged, and Goodell adjusted by suspending Rice indefinitely. Rice is still a free agent.

The public heavily criticized Goodell for the Rice incident. When news broke that the Patriots were suspected of pushing the rules, he saw this as an opportunity to save face because the public wanted their throats. This is due to two reasons: The team’s success with Brady at the helm, which includes four Super Bowls, and because in 2007, the team was caught videotaping the New York Jets defensive signals from an illegal position, a serious offense that became known as Spygate.

The team was docked $750,000 and a first-round pick for their actions. Critics love to label the Patriots first three Super Bowl’s as “tainted” because of Spygate. Call those three tainted, fine. But labeling this recent Super Bowl as tainted? Nice try. Trust me, the balls were properly inflated in the Super Bowl when Brady tossed four touchdowns and 327 yards on arguably the best secondary in NFL history.

While the sanctions imposed by Goodell are ridiculous, questioning Brady’s career is even more far fetched. The guy is a living legend, and the shame and flak he is receiving over the half a pound of air is preposterous.