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.