As most of you know, I despise the New England Patriots. Color me unsurprised that the Assholes of the league have been caught cheating. Again. I'm less than thrilled that my city will be hosting them for the Super Bowl. *Edit: For those of my readers who don't follow the Sports, the Patriots were found to have used balls inflated below the league regulation PSI. This would make the balls easier to throw and handle, therefore giving the team an unfair advantage over their opponents. The rile up has been called "DeflateGate" (because every scandal must end in "gate".)
I've been watching "deflategate" for some unknown reason. (It might be because I'm waiting to see Belichick and Brady--two men who embody my loathing for the New England Patriots--fall on their faces. Not sure.) So I watched Belichick's prepared speech Thursday morning and thought it was exactly what you'd expect to hear. A bunch of denial and passing the buck. What surprised me was that the coach flat out put the onus on his star quarterback.
No honor among thieves, sure, and these two seem thick as the aforementioned felons. I'm actually a little taken aback that Belichick didn't hoist blame onto one of the equipment managers or some lackey ball boy.
What pissed me off about Belichick's speech (other than the man himself), was his comment that in his 40+ years of NFL coaching experience, he has "never talked to any player, staff member about football air pressure. That's just not a subject that's brought up."
Okay, other than the fact that his own comments later kinda sound too specific for someone who hasn't discussed it before, I call horseshit on this one. You've been a coach in the NFL for longer than I've been alive and you're telling me that you have no clue about ball pressure? (I know about ball pressure--I've watched that episode on Mythbusters about the supposed helium-filled ball getting more hang time--and I'm not an NFL coach!) Also, dude, it's your fucking job to know this. So what you're saying is this: you're either ignorant about what your job entails, or you're lying. If the former, perhaps team owner Kraft should rethink his choice of a head coach. (If the latter, pack your bags, assface.)
But really, Belichick's prepared remarks were exactly what you'd expect of a known cheater trying to cover his ass and make the most of the asterisk that will permanently accompany his team's 2014 season record.
Tom Brady's press conference Thursday afternoon was far more interesting to me. Yes, I giggled like a 12 year old at the double entendres flying all over the place. What I really wanted to hear was the quarterback's reaction to Belichick's speech. Thankfully, a dauntless reporter got that one in early.
Brady shrugged it off, citing that everyone's just "trying to figure out what happened." While Tom's answer was calm and tactful, the expression on his face spoke volumes. (Admittedly, I couldn't gif it and show you the evolution of the sneer to smirk to calm face.)
And now, comes the part that surprises me most of all.
I'm about to defend Tom Brady. (I know, it tastes bitter, guys.)
So, the reporters kept harping on, "How could you not notice? Did you notice that the balls felt different? You handle the balls and like them a very specific way, couldn't you tell a difference?"
Look, here's the thing...he's not sitting on the sideline caressing his footballs while the other team has their go. No quarterback is doing anything other than his job--looking at game shots from upstairs, talking with his team/coaches, PLAYING THE GAME. And when they're on the field, the top notch stars like Manning, Luck and Brady? They are in contact with the ball for less than 3 seconds per play. Think about that. Most of these reporters probably can't adequately pick their noses in 3 seconds. And during that short period of time, quarterbacks of this caliber are doing their jobs as master strategists. After the snap they're assessing incoming threats, wind direction and speed, the positions of their receivers, coverage on said receivers, their own physical form, the position/handling of the ball itself, doing mental geometry and plotting trajectories for their upcoming pass. Add to this weather conditions like we saw during Sunday's game. And that's just what *I*, a woman who took a season off of her fantasy league, can think of off the top of my head. There are literally at least a dozen other things that a quarterback is thinking about in the 3 seconds he's in contact with the ball that are more important than the PSI of said ball.
So yeah, I'm going to step in front of Tom for just a moment and say, "Dude, I think you're expecting a little too much of someone who may have held a ball for a maximum of 5 seconds at a time, let alone 12 of them over the course of a whole game, when you ask him how he couldn't possibly tell the difference. If I licked your pen, you'd probably notice. But would you notice if I removed 15% of the ink?"
And now I turn to Tom and say, "Dude, your team is cheating. If you're not directly involved, I'd be pissed as hell at the person who a) didn't think my team could win without breaking the rules and b) is taking my time away from serious game planning to deal with this utter bullshit. Own up if it's you, and prepare for the worst. Also, Belichick's an asshole and I hate your face."
Well, maybe I'd omit that last part. About the face. But not the rest. Pretty sure right now Brady'd back me up on the fact his coach blows goats.
So how do I feel about Deflategate? (Other than the fact that the real winner is Gillette with their ill-timed hashtag #flexball appearing on the screen during both pressers?) I think it's ridiculous. It's the second time the New England Patriots have been caught cheating. There is now speculation that they also cheated during their play-off game versus the Baltimore Ravens. This whole thing has put an asterisk by their team record. Sure, they could win the Super Bowl, but who would believe it? There's always going to be this stain on their 2014 season reminding them and us that this team and its management cannot be trusted. Their wins always come with the caveat of, "assuming they weren't cheating".
Team owner Robert Kraft has a lot of thinking to do. His coaching staff has tarnished the legacy of his team multiple times. He needs to consider firing Belichick. (If this happens, it will be after the Super Bowl. This is assuming some poor hapless ball boy isn't set up as a patsy for this shit.) He has to do something to take back the integrity of his team.
Chairman Goddell and the NFL need to do something more than strip the Patriots of draft picks and levy fines that it's obvious their coffers can handle. That's not discipline. Also, being their second known offense and in such a high profile game, this seriously effects the integrity of the game. Goddell needs to consider long-term suspension (of Belichick AND Brady), and a post-season ban for the 2015 season.
As to the Super Bowl itself, well...The Ravens or the Colts can't replace them. Time and logistics negate the idea that anyone but the Patriots will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Should Belichick be suspended? Absolutely. Regardless of his knowledge, it's his JOB to know about ball pressure and the process of what happens with balls prior to a game. He has failed and it caused a serious problem on his watch. Should Brady be suspended? I don't know. Part of me would love that, but then if the Seahawks win the Super Bowl everyone will say, "It's because Brady wasn't playing."
No, I want Seattle to have what Indy and Baltimore didn't: a chance to win the game fair and square.