ESPN reported today that anonymous NFL sources said 11 of the 12 footballs used by the New England Patriots on Sunday night’s AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts were found to be deflated by 2 pounds per square inch less than the League’s requirement.
Until now, alternative explanations for ball deflation were offered, extending the Patriots the benefit of the doubt. Gary Myers for the Daily News suggested that weather conditions such as “cold air can cause a loss of air pressure.”
Though the NFL has not officially confirmed this, if claims that 11 out 12 of the Patriots’ balls that were allegedly weighed after the game failed to meet NFL regulations, while all of the 12 Colts’ balls did, prove to be true, the weather explanation will simply not be plausible.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Michael Signora, an NFL spokesman, said “we are continuing our review and will provide information as soon as possible.”
Suspicion that the Patriot’s deflated its footballs began after an intercept by Colts’ linebacker D’Qwell Jackson in the second quarter, who then brought the issue up with his team’s technical staff staff, according to Yahoo! Sports.
It is not yet clear how or when the balls were deflated since the balls are inspected by the refs two hours and 15 minutes before the game. Though it would be relatively easy for a ball handler, or anyone else for that matter, to deflate a ball during the game on the sidelines.
Watch this tutorial by Ed Schultz on MSNBC The Ed Show.
Still BS, and here’s why. The Patriots’ head coach, Bill Belichick, responded to this allegation by saying that the team will fully cooperate with the investigation and do everything it is expected to do–the PR 101 response. While his star quarterback, Tom Brady, laughed at the allegation on Monday during an interview to Boston’s WEEI Sports Radio, whether the Patriots take this matter seriously or not, very little is expected to happen in terms of punishment if the coach and some members of the team are found to have tempered with the balls.
This story is not just an embarrassment for the Patriots. If these reports are true, this would indicate that the Patriots play dirty and are in fact, cheaters since this is not their first offense. (Remember Spygate?)
As Ross Tucker said in an interview on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes, the benefit-ratio of doing something like this is completely skewed. While the advantage that a deflated ball provides to the players during the game is minimal, the risk to the team’s reputation and, most importantly, the players’ morale if you get caught for cheating, is huge.