In a year where he has watched the credibility of his sport get dragged through the dirt, the latest scandal to hit the National Football League needs to be taken care of, not only with the utmost care, but with a hard and quick resolution.
The New England Patriots are being investigated for deflating footballs during the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts. Both teams are responsible for their own footballs, which by league rule are inspected by NFL officials two hours and 15 minutes before the game kicks off. Anyone who doctors the ball afterwards will be heavily fined. Apparently the Patriots didn't get that memo, or, they just didn't care.
Several reports have the Patriots deflating as many as 11 of the 12 balls in their possession, two PSI below the standard weight of an NFL football. Walt Anderson, who was the head referee for the football game, said that every football checked out before the game started, which clears the officials of any wrong doing, and makes one wonder what the Patriots did to those balls after Anderson inspected them. ESPN later reported that the deflated balls were detected at halftime, inflated again, and put back in the bag for the second half. There was no update on whether those same footballs were found deflated again after the game.
On top of that the Colts and Ravens are now crying foul that the Patriots may have deflated footballs in previous match-ups, one against Indianapolis in week 11, and, again in the divisional playoffs against Baltimore.
Did the altered footballs effect the play of the game? Did it push the Patriots to a dominant victory over Indianapolis? Chances are, not likely. The Colts were horrible on Sunday against New England. They were outplayed in every facet of the game, and the Indy offense had no answer for the Patriots defense. Those saying the Patriots could have won the game with beach balls are correct; the Colts did nothing to stop New England.
That being said, just because the score was 45-7 does not exonerate the Patriots. Cheating is cheating no matter how one slices it. In the mind of the Patriots they were trying to gain a competitive advantage, and they got caught.
|Roger Goodell (L) and Robert Kraft used to be all smiles.|
Spy-gate happened because the Patriots were caught red handed video tapping signals coming from the sidelines of the NY Jets in 2007. Soon thereafter other teams started reporting that they suspected something was fishy when they had played the Patriots in previous seasons. As result, the Patriots only got a slap on the wrist with a hefty fine, and lost draft picks. That was it.
Now there is this.
Considering the Patriots past, should there be any surprise that New England would stoop this low in order to gain, what is in their mind only, a competitive advantage? The Patriots were the better team than the Colts, they didn't need to alter a football in order to win a game. Yet the paranoia of Bill Belichick proved once again that this so-called genius is his own worst enemy.
This has to leave the NFL angry. It should leave Roger Goodell beyond upset. The Patriots disgraced the Shield with their arrogance. They have turned Super Bowl week into a complete joke, and have dragged the NFL into an impossible situation where earning the trust of a national fanbase will take a monumental effort by the league.
If the Patriots win the Super Bowl, and all they get is the same punishment a la Spy-gate, Goodell will never hear the end of it. Just the image of the Commissioner handing Belichick and owner Robert Kraft the Lombardi Trophy in 10 days is flat out embarrassing. It will make the NFL look like enablers in the Patriots scam.
|Maybe it's time for Josh McDaniels|
If Sean Payton can get suspended for a full calendar year for his involvement in Bounty Gate in 2012, surely Bill Belichick can get suspended for whatever involvement he has in Deflate-gate. Goodell shouldn't even wait, he should drop the ax on Belichick right now, and suspend him from the Super Bowl. The last thing the NFL needs is Belichick avoiding every question he gets about Deflate-gate with his typical droll persona during Media Day next Tuesday. The more the Patriots make fun of the allegations and the more they avoid it, the worse it will get for the NFL.
The NFL should force Robert Kraft's hand, and let offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels coach the Patriots in the Super Bowl, and if the suspension of Belichick lasts into next season, let McDaniels run the team through that time as well. That would almost certainly end Belichick's run in New England.
Getting Belichick off the team immediately in light of this developing story is the only answer if the NFL wants to separate itself from the Patriots' scandals. There is nobody to blame for this except the Patriots themselves; now they need to pay for it.