The NFL scandal known as “Deflategate” is now national news. If you haven’t heard, during last Sunday’s AFC championship game between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts, officials discovered that 11 of the 12 footballs used by the Patriots’ offense were underinflated by 2 pounds of air pressure. That’s a significant amount, and in cold and rainy playing conditions could provide a distinct advantage for the team using them. (Each team uses its own set of footballs on offense and is responsible to keep the balls inflated to league standards—between 12.5 and 13.5 PSI.)
Because of a previous Patriots’ cheating scandal involving illicit taping of an opposing teams’ coaches’ signals back in 2007—which resulted in a $500,000 fine and loss of a draft pick—many players and commentators are concluding that the Patriots are again guilty of cheating (and that their coach is living up to his moniker as Bill Belicheat). In today’s press conference Belichick didn’t offer much to assuage those suspicions. In fact, his calm reiterations that he has no idea what happened should only cause us to doubt him more. After all, if he’s telling the truth that he knew nothing about the ball deflation, then someone in the Patriots organization did this without his consent and thus essentially framed Belichick and cast serious aspersion on the integrity of the entire New England franchise. If you were innocent and had been slandered in this way, would you limit your comments to calmly denying you knew anything about how the balls were deflated? Of course not. Wouldn’t you be angry and express how you wanted to get to the bottom of this and bring the perpetrators to justice? Of course you would.
According to one recent survey, 65% of those polled think Belichick is lying. His tepid stonewalling in today’s press conference provides another reason not to believe him.
Regarding Belichick and Brady, my thought is that they were “willingly ignorant.” That still leaves them culpable to some degree, of course, but it allows them to honestly say that “I did not know.” I was surprised the reporters did not push that point harder. The “process” of preparing the footballs was still quite vague, even at the end of the press conference.
Brady said he selected the footballs out of a grouping. Of course, he’s not testing PSI (no one would expect that), but if there were 20 footballs, he could easily select the 12.5, 12.0, 11.5, or 11.0 ones. He would “not know” in a sense; he just knew that he selected ones that felt right. After months, the ball boy would never need to be told; he would simply know that deflated ones made his boss happy. It would seem that strange number — 11 out of 12 — would confirm this. No one was explicitly told to deflate them, but by “defined chance,” Brady happened to select the lower PSI balls from the group.
Brady may have been honest during the press conference. After all, he played better in the second half with the inflated balls, so maybe he didn’t notice during the activity of the game. I would normally be suspicious, but if the referees did not notice, then the difference is pretty subtle. He may have planned his willful ignorance before the game, but really, no one pressed him about that.
I’m surprised the referees haven’t been grilled more. It’d probably be too risky to deflate them on the sidelines, so my guess is that the “football checker” was also negligent. But who could blame him? It’s such an unexpected thing to happen that he probably just checked them by hand.
That’s a lot of speculation, but willful ignorance is a way to “tell the truth” and “ignorantly” cross the line.
Not a Belichick apologist, but to be fair, all of his press conferences for the past 15 years have always featured calm, deadpanned answers/statements. The guy is nothing if not perpetually stoic. So I’m not sure if it’s wise to seize on that here as further indication that he cheated.
That said, he almost certainly cheated.
Here is what I do not understand…
As I hear it, the Colts became suspicious of this following an Interception. So, a defensive player touches the ball for about 30 seconds of time, and in that time he is able to detect a problem with the ball.
How, then, can it be that the officials, who touch the ball before and after EVERY play, cannot notice a problem?
Jim, your point is well-taken. But so is Ben’s. I’m not saying I believe Belichick, but let us not forget O. J. Simpson’s passionate vow “to search for the real killers.” Those who express their outrage and defend themselves open themselves up to the other charge of “Me thinks he doth protest too much.” Belichick just may not care whether anyone believes him or not. So when you are damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don’t then the only thing left to do is to be yourself and be spontaneous — and history shows that for Belichick that means dead-pan calm.
Ben, I’ve seen plenty of Belichick’s press conferences and am familiar with his deadpan style. Even so, if he’s innocent you would expect him somehow to express and even emphasize his concern to find out who the culprit was. So the point is not his lack of emotion (though I know even Belichick is capable of that–I’ve seen it on the sidelines) but rather his failure even to say the sorts of things an innocent man would say in such a situation, however stoically. (By the way, I edited the final line in comment. Let me know if I didn’t change it to what you actually meant.)
The Pats are mostly White guys and the cultural marxists cannot allow such a team to exist much less win against all those brawny blacks.