In the week leading up to the Super Bowl, the NFL wants to be in the news. Well this past week, the NFL got its wish.
If you haven’t been paying attention to the news, the New England Patriots are embroiled in another controversy after it was found out that 11 of the 12 footballs the Patriots offense was playing with in the first half were upwards around two pounds under the legal limit of 12.5 pounds per square inch during their AFC Championship win over the Indianapolis Colts.
Now, while it sounds like playing with a flat ball would be a negative, numerous experts have come out saying that it’s actually an advantage to play with a slightly deflated football because of the added grip the quarterback has to throw the ball and the running backs and receivers have to hold onto the ball.
And while in the grand scheme of things it didn’t really matter with New England winning 45-7 and Indianapolis never really having a chance, it’s a clear violation o the rules if it was done on purpose and head coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots don’t really have the benefit of the doubt here.
Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots were really a nice story when they won Super Bowl XXXVI and then the back-to-back Super Bowls in 2004 and 2005. But with the whole Spygate issue that surfaced in 2007, where it was found out that the Patriots were videotaping the opponents signals, which resulted in Belichick being fined $500,000 and the loss of the draft pick for New England, and questions arose about whether or not the Patriots filmed the St. Louis Rams walk through before Super Bowl XXXVI, the credibility of Belicheck and the Patriots organization isn’t exactly pristine. And it’s really hard to sit there and watch the recent press conferences with Belichick and Brady and know for a fact that they’re telling the truth. In order to turn that around, they’re going to have to provide some hard facts.
Also, letting the air out of the ball to an illegal limit is a clear violation of the rule, as is videotaping the opponent’s signals. As it has been proven on football shows this past week, there is an advantage, though as small as it might be, and it’s something that the NFL rule book limits for fairness. So if there’s proof that they did it on purpose, the Patriots deserve to be punished.
Of course, the deflation was only in the first half as the officials realized the balls were under-inflated at halftime and pumped them back to the legal limit for the second half, where the Patriots scored 28 unanswered points in the win.
But the question that remains is why. Why would the Patriots, who had the clear advantage against the Colts, feel like they needed to create an illegal advantage in the game by taking the air out of the ball?
Maybe it was just the cold weather like Belichick suggested at his press conference on Saturday, but considering the history of Belichick and the Patriots, they’re not going to get any benefit of the doubt.