It’s the biggest football topic of the year: The New England Patriots were using under-inflated footballs during a play-off game that might (and ultimately did) take them to the Super Bowl. Slightly under-inflated footballs are scientifically slightly easier to catch. Of course, this is cheating. Of course, this is outlawed by the NFL. Of course, the NFL was not aware that anything of this nature had happened prior to this particular game. Right?
According to Yahoo Sports, “Reports have emerged during the past week that NFL teams, including the Colts, complained during the regular season and perhaps playoffs about the Patriots using under-inflated footballs. Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer reported that in response to those complaints, the league always planned on checking New England’s footballs at halftime.” The big question that should be running through the heads of all players and fans is: Why wait until half-time?
That would mean that the National Football League was aware of a particular possible cheating issue with a particular team. The league was willing to allow it to happen for the first half of the game and attempt to catch them in a “sting type” operation at half-time rather than just check the footballs prior to the beginning of the game, or better yet, each game. Since there was adequate suspicion to check at half-time during a playoff game, wouldn’t it have been prudent to check well before that? Or perhaps even sternly reminded the teams of the rules, thus causing the Patriots to pay attention to the air pressure if it was unintentional and cut it out if it was intentional?
If the NFL was aware of the issue, that means they were willing to allow the possibility that the Patriots were cheating for the entire first half of the game. If true, that could completely discredit the NFL and their willingness to play by the rules.
In fact, that could be far more disturbing than a revelation that Tom Brady personally deflated the balls or any other player did. It wouldn’t be all that uncommon for one person to attempt to cheat or gain an advantage in a high-stakes atmosphere such as a play-off game. It’s happened before and likely will happen again.
The fact that the NFL allowed it to happen while having some type of information (if they in fact did) and allowed the game to go on as long as it did could change the way fans perceive football forever. Especially since the Patriots were not eliminated from the Playoffs once the under-inflation issue was caught.
What is the truth about when the under-inflated football issue was first on the radar? Officially, the NFL has commented once.
“The investigation began based on information that suggested that the game balls used by the New England Patriots were not properly inflated to levels required by the playing rules.”
But there is no official comment on when that information was received or when the investigation began.
Football fans, what do you think? Do you feel it was handled appropriately?
[Photos Courtesy of wmtw.com and National Football League]