After six days and the proverbial over-coverage by ESPN, I’m going to weigh in on Deflategate. I, too, hope it will go away in time for us to start thinking about the actual game to be played next Sunday.
Below is my take on Deflategate in the form of an interview by me to me.
If asked these questions, here’s how I would answer:
1. Do you think Bill Belichick cheated?
– No, I think he impliedly allowed a practice that is commonly accepted as within the rules of the game, but maybe not the rules of the NFL. He probably accepted that it was going on just like other coaches in the NFL do. I don’t think he knew specifically whether it happened or not before the AFC Championship.
2. Do you think Tom Brady broke the rules?
– Yes. It has been established that the balls were deflated under the minimum required air pressure during the first half of the AFC championship. This was probably at his direction, as I cannot imagine a ballboy would unilaterally take it upon himself to deflate footballs for his own amusement. Maybe he didn’t knowingly, purposefully break the rules, but I think he did it nonetheless.
3. Do you think Tom Brady knowingly gave himself an unfair, unethical advantage/cheated?
– No, this is one of those stupid rules that’s been around for way too long and has more to do with the quarterback crossing all of his “t”s and dotting all his “i”s to give himself the best chance at winning. I think the rule needs to be changed right now and people need to stop saying it is unfair. It may have given him an advantage, but it takes experience, work and all of the things that separate the good from the great to figure out what air pressure gives you that advantage. That, in and of itself, should be rewarded and not prohibited.
4. Do you think deflating the footballs to your liking is unethical?
-Hell no. I think it’s ridiculous that it’s illegal under the rules of the NFL. It’s not illegal in any jurisdiction in the United States. It doesn’t have long-term health effects like performance-enhancing drugs do. It doesn’t cause a person to act irrationally or overly destructive. And, it’s not teaching our kids that it’s okay to put hurtful things in their bodies. So, will everyone please stop comparing it to performance-enhancing drugs?! It’s just a “behind-the-times” rule that needs to be changed.
5. Do you think Tom Brady was lying during his first press conference?
– As much as this hurts me to say, because I’m a huge Tom Brady fan, yes. He answered a yes or no question with more than just “yes” or “no.” This is not always a tell-tale sign of a liar, but it’s often a pretty good indicator. I think he is likely the only person that could have or would have requested that the balls be deflated.
6. Do you think the Patriots should be punished by the NFL?
–Yes, but after the 2015 season. For all those saying the NFL needs to protect the integrity of the league, this can be done with a fine and maybe the loss of a draft pick. Neither of these will hurt the Patriots very much.
7. What do you think happens with Tom Brady and the Patriots after this year?
-It would really surprise me, but there’s the possibility that he goes and plays somewhere else. I would respect Brady for it. While Bill Belichick is one the best coaches in the history of game, an average coach could have done a much better job protecting his quarterback at his press conference. Most great leaders accept responsibility and are slow to extend blame. It may not say a lot about Belichick as a coach, but it says a lot about him as a leader he gets a D- from me.
8. Do you think the Patriots are running an ethical operation?
-This makes me think it’s less likely. They are good at not getting caught and deflategate makes me think the Aron Hernandez incident may have been known by someone in a leadership position within the organization before he got caught.
9. Do you think Tom Brady deserves to have his legacy tarnished by this?
-No, Tom’s greatness is attributable to a collection of about 100 things little things he consistently does every time he laces up. As in “Any Given Sunday,” when you add all those up, it makes the difference between winning and losing. Making sure the footballs are the correct air pressure is just another one of those things.
10. Do you wish people would stop talking about it?
-Yes. I will too. Right now.