Are the New England Patriots guilty of deflating footballs to make them easier for Tom Brady to grip and throw and for the receivers to catch and to prevent fumbles? And if so, should they be penalized, even disqualified from the Super Bowl? In the interest of full disclosure, I am a Patriots fan, but since I did not grow up in New England I think I can be partial.
Before I address some of the facts, I want to go on record as saying that it is absolutely absurd that each team is required to supply 12 game fooballs. In my view, the game should be played with footballs supplied by the NFL and that both teams play with the same football. I mean really, how many footballs are needed to play a game? The referees would be the keeper of the balls and one of them would have the responsibility of checking the footballs for psi say at the commercial breaks or at the change of quarters.
Now to the known facts. The Patriot footballs were determined to be underinflated at half time, based on a complaint by a Colts defender who made an interception and noticed the ball didn’t feel right. The footballs were then inflated to the proper psi for the second half. Just how much of an advantage did the Patriots have? Put it this way, the Pats scored 28 points in the second half, and held the Colts scoreless. So even if you erased the 17 points the Pats scored in the first half, they still would have won the game 28-7. Second, there is no direct evidence that a Patriots employee authorized or instructed someone to deflate the footballs, nor are there any eye witness accounts or video evidence catching a deflater in the act. In fact, professors at Boston College and MIT say that footballs will deflate naturally if inflated at room temperature and then exposed to an extreme temperature drop, which was the case in Foxboro. If the footballs were originally inflated to the minimum psi, they might have dropped to below that by halftime. But why weren’t the Colts footballs underinflated? Well, the logical explanation was that they were inflated to the maximum psi and naturally deflated the same amount but were at the low end of the acceptable range by halftime or whenever their footballs were inspected, if in fact they ever were. Third, with all the former quarterbacks talking about their preferences for football pressure and such, I can only conclude that football pressure customization is and always has been much more common than any of us are aware. I’m not saying Brady knew, but I am saying that if such practices are common, then no team really has an advantage. And teams that don’t seek an advantage, won’t win. But even if the Patriots were found guilty, the maximum punishment they should receive is a three game ban from spiking the football after they score a touchdown. That’d be hard on Gronk, but a just penalty I think.
Deflate gate is overblown and is tailor made for social media. Even some of the Colts players seem embarrassed by it all. The reality is that Tom Brady haters secretly wish he were their teams’ quarterback and if being honest would admit that Bill Belichick is the best coach of all time. 11.5 psi can’t bring a dynasty down.