Friday, January 23, 2015
Bill Belichik's been accused of leading a team of cheaters, once again. Briefly, for those of you who rely on The Burrow for all your sporting news, footballs are checked by the officials 135 minutes before the kick-off. In the interim, they are returned to the safekeeping of each team's equipment staff. In last week's playoff game, 11 of the 12 balls in the Patriot's care were found to be underinflated to a level below that which is mandated for game play use. Underinflation makes the ball easier to catch, to carry, to throw. It makes it harder to fumble. Tom Brady, Belichik's golden boy quarterback, prefers a softer ball. While it is true that the final score (45-7) belies the notion that the softer balls made all the difference, or even a significant difference, there is no disputing that the Patriots were not using regulation footballs.
Would Andrew Luck have done better tossing a softer ball? We'll never know. Certainly, the softer balls had no impact on the play of the Colts' defense, nor that of their offensive line. That's not the point.
The point is that I have to cheer for the Seahawks next weekend. The point is that this is a second offense for Belichik's Patriots. In 2007 they were called on the NFL carpet for illegally videotaping the Jets' defensive signals during practice. Denials, then and now, seem thin. Tom Brady denying that he noticed a difference in the balls while he was on the field seemed disingenuous, especially following ESPN's talking head former quarterbacks easily identifying the too soft and too hard balls on Sportscenter. After all, Newsday reported Monday that the Colts first noticed something unusual after an interception by Colts linebacker D'Qwell Jackson late in the second quarter, according to espn.com.
If the brief moment in time during which the linebacker held the football was enough for him to notice the softness, how is it possible for the quarterback to be clueless.
There is a process in place for a $25,000 fine for an underinflated ball. There are calls for other sanctions - banning the coach for the Super Bowl or the 2015-16 season - but my concerns are more personal. After having to tell Mr. 9 that his adoration of Aaron Hernandez was inappropriate since the man was awaiting trial on not one nor two but three murders, after removing Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson from his pantheon of heroes for abusing the women and children in their lives, I am now forced to inform him that his man cave, replete with its Patriot's banner and posters and other forms of fandom, is also teetering on the edge of immorality.
Where will he ever find his heroes?