The Patriots Super Bowl Champions Are Cheaters: So What!

Ginger RogersThe Patriots won the Super Bowl. On the way there they cheated in one game. That’s not to say that they had to cheat to get to the Super Bowl and win it; it’s just a simple fact that during a game before that game they cheated.

The Patriots remind me of a couple of guys I knew. They could do something straight out or do it crooked; it was simpler to do it straight out but doing it crooked even though more complicated gave them some type of pleasure. The Patriots must get that type of feeling when they cheat: not only did they win the game which they would have won in any event they were able to pull the wool over the other team’s eyes. That must have added to the joy of winning just like a lot of guys add to the joy by having won the bet on their team.

But when you come down to it if the cheating doesn’t make a difference, and I think everyone will agree that the Patriots would have gotten to the Super Bowl without cheating which game they won on the fair-and-square, why do we even care about this? Or to put it another way, is it cheating if the cheating has no effect on the outcome of the test or contest?

The idea of professional sports as I understand it is to win the game. It is not to win the game without cheating but to win the game in any way that you can. That is because there is no “honor code” to which the players subscribe like the cadets at the military academies. To be more basic, if a defensive back goes up in the air and grabs a ball but in going to the ground drops it but is able to cover up that and then picks it up again he is not required to tell the refs he didn’t intercept the ball. He can get up and act like he did. If no one saw the ball hit the ground then he will get away with cheating.

Another example is in the line play when an offensive player grabs the shirt of or trips a defensive player who is about to get past him. That’s cheating but if he’s not caught then he’s under no obligation to turn himself in. I’d suggest in every game there is a lot of cheating in one way or the other but if you can get away with it no one seems to care. If you get caught you get penalized. The idea is to win the best way you can and if it involves a little cheating by bending or breaking the rules then that is what will be done.

The situation that presents itself now is that the Patriots were caught cheating in one instance. Just like the offensive guard who is caught holding on one play is not punished for other times he might have held, so the Patriots should be punished for the one time they were caught. The offensive guard would cost his team a 15 yard penalty. Nothing personal would be done to him. What then should the penalty for the Patriots be for doing something that had no effect on the game?

Tom Brady should not be penalized personally just like you don’t punish the other players for doing something like cheating. It is the team that must bear the consequences for a player’s misconduct. It’s too late to penalize them 15 yards since the game is long over. What then is to be done for not following the rules as unnecessary as the rules might be (why even have a rule relative to inflation – let each team do what it likes best).

I say let the punishment fit the crime. The Patriots cheated by using underinflated footballs therefore they should be required to use an overinflated football for one game. Any other punishment makes no sense when you consider the big picture.

 

14 thoughts on “The Patriots Super Bowl Champions Are Cheaters: So What!

  1. There is so much wrong with the Wells Report, that it needs an entire blog dedicated to it. Since I do not have my own blog, I will do it here!!!! 🙂

    1) The Wells Report has an immediate, presupposed bias just in the tone it is written. This was not a fact-finding report but a report written to cement presupposed thoughts. It’s interesting that they hammer Brady for not releasing his phone records but do not include much of his testimony from the investigators’ interviews. This portion of the report is basically an EFF YOU to Tom Brady for not turning over his personal cell phone records for an investigation into the 1lb difference of air in a football. As a megastar, I understand his reservations, the level of privacy invasion far outweighs the seriousness of the issue. Considering the NFL has more leaks than the Titantic, I wouldn’t want my personal cell phone records in their hands either, redacted or not! They also said the Patriots did not cooperate by barring them from interviewing McNally on one occasion. They failed to mention they had already interviewed McNally four times, and wanted to speak with him for a 5th.

    2) The league HAD to find someone culpable, otherwise they would look like utterly incompetent idiots for the 3rd time in the 2014 season (Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson scandals being the first 2 issues). Dare I say they still do? Arguably this being the worst because they already had 2 chances to learn from their mistakes and completely bungled the “sting operation” and the subsequent media leaks afterwards.

    3) I will admit the text messages regarding the “Deflator” do not look good. But I do not read the McNally texts and think, “wow he really is loyal to Brady.” McNally sounds like a disgruntled employee with an axe to grind, and a not very smart one at that.

    4) I reject any of the scientific data they presented. Their analysis is flawed from the beginning. They tested all 11 of the Patriots footballs, but only tested 4 of the Colts footballs, 3 of which were under the regulated air pressure, citing time as an excuse. Last I checked the referees are in charge of the game, and it could not have taken more than a few minutes to get air pressure of the 7 other Colts footballs. Also, the company that conducted experiments, Exponent, to “debunk” the theory posed by the Patriots earlier this year is hired by megacorporations to conduct “studies” and “investigations” that completely exonerate these corps from wrong doing when being sued. See the Toyota Corp. faulty ignition suit which caused the deaths of 13 people. 2 years prior to the settling of the case, Exponent issued a report saying the ignitions were not faulty. They also were hired by tobacco companies to issue reports denying the link between second hand smoke and cancer. This is only a small portion of the substantial conflict of interest issues Exponent has been involved in; http://www.providencejournal.com/article/20150507/SPORTS/150509437/?Start=1

    5) Where in the NFL Rulebook does it say being “generally aware” of another teammate/team employee’s misconduct thereby implicates the “generally aware” person in wrong doing? What does that mean generally aware? It is not a legal standard that I have heard anywhere. If the league punishes Brady with a suspension, then they should investigate the teammates of any players who are caught using PEDs. Surely a PED user has teammates that are “generally aware” he is using PEDs. To Matt’s point, that would even go so far as to a holding penalty. Surely there are situations where the Left Tackle is generally aware the Center held on a specific play. Where were all the suspensions after the Dolphins racist/bullying scandal? Only Richie Incognito was suspended (he bullied Jonathan Martin for those of you who don’t remember). Much of this was done over group text messages with other players and in the locker room in front of other players. No other Dolphins players were suspended, but they were generally aware of what was happening. Based on league precedent, being generally aware of another’s rule violation is not misconduct. If they suspend Brady for this, it is targeted and his and the NFLPA’s lawyers will be all over it. More on that issue below.

    6) Lastly, should Brady get any type of suspension for his “misconduct”, (which by all indications there is none, unless you want to count withholding his cell phone records) the NFLPA will file a grievance and an arbitrator will likely overturn the suspension. Arbitrators look to the reasonableness of the penalty in relation to the offense, and often how the employers have treated similarly situated employees in the past. Look at Ray Rice, 2 games for beating his wife. An NFLPA lawyer could easily argue any level of punishment on par with or close to PED use (4 games for a first offense) or Rice’s domestic violence suspension is far too harsh for the “misconduct” Brady has been accused of. Despite the terrible legal argument the NFL has to suspend Brady, this does not dissuade me from thinking they might actually do it. Their record of issuing punishment in accordance with well established labor law standards isn’t very good (at least under Goodell). For example, the new misconduct policy the league negotiated with NFLPA was supposed to apply to future misconduct by players. After the AP scandal broke, it was retroactively applied to suspend him indefinitely, which was ultimately overturned as a violation of the CBA and the agreement. To put it bluntly, the NFL is kind of dumb when it comes to discipline under their Collective Bargaining Agreement.

    Thank you for reading the rantings of a Patriots fanatic.

  2. They knew they were breaking the rules and anyone who says Belichick didn’t know is really naive. He knows everything that goes on in that team. Also it is quite likely that they did this multiple times and he’s thinking of new schemes right now. There are people who play by the rules and those that don’t. The later have no shame or genuine self respect. Honorable people can take real pride in their accomplishments and themselves. Often it is one’s only solace (though a great one) for often crimes and dishonest behavior go unpunished. In this instance I don’t think they can make any punishment stick. Just like Belichick , the Clintons, Obama and Holder all knew everything that was going on. They are all notorious micro-managers. I just wish more people would hold themselves to a higher ethical standard and expect it of others. I am a member of a very exclusive club of about 15,000 and would mortified at the idea of doing anything dishonorable and bringing shame upon the group just as any of they would too. To have a core group of individuals that one knows one can trust even if they have never met or know one another is perhaps the greatest blessing any man could have. When I’m having a bad day or see something that really upsets me all I have to do is remember I am the luckiest man on earth.

  3. I also read what BBC Sports had to write about this, as I was generally aware that they probably would be more precise in the usage of the English language.

    http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/american-football/32617907

    “The 243-page report was compiled by NFL executive vice-president Jeff Pash and prominent attorney Ted Wells.
    It concluded: “It is more probable than not that New England Patriots personnel participated in violations of the playing tules [sic] and were involved in a deliberate effort to circumvent the rules.
    “Based on the evidence, it also is our view that it is more probable than not that Tom Brady was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of Jim McNally [the attendant in the officials locker room] and John Jastremski [equipment assistant] involving the release of air from Patriots game balls.”
    The report absolved other Patriots players and staff, as well as all coaches, including head coach Bill Belichick, and the team ownership.”

    I have a suggestion for your wording. Where you wrote “The Patriots cheated by using underinflated footballs therefore they should be required to use an overinflated football for one game.” instead would be probably better if you wrote “The Patriots probably cheated by using probably underinflated footballs (eleven out of twelve footballs) therefore they probably should be required to use a probably overinflated football for one game.”

    You may already be aware that I am probably right.

    1. Ed:

      That’s a nice comment and I stand corrected. I should have sprinkled my post more liberally with the word probable. What you have to keep in mind is that the report was filed by a lawyer so the terms used have to be understood in their legal concept. “More probable than not” is one of the standards In civil litigation, a plaintiff must prove his or her case by a “preponderance of the evidence,” which is defined as “that degree of proof which is more probable than not.” BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 819 (Abridged 6th ed. 1991).

      Millions, probably more like trillions, of dollars are exchanged every year based upon the finding by a jury or judge that something was more probable than not. Companies were put into bankruptcy or broken up, divorces are granted, etc. based on that standard which is the one in almost all civil litigation. If it was more probable than not that you ran a red light then you will be held responsible for causing an accident that resulted from your action. It is a pretty good standard for asserting that something happened; but not sufficient to put someone in prison for.

      1. “More probable than not” is an expression used more by lawyers than mathematicians. Instead of “yes” or “no” or “black” or white”, it is a “maybe” or “a shade of gray”.

        When you flip a fair coin often enough, one out of two times it will be heads, and one out of two times it will be tails. However, if you flip it only one hundred times, you may discover that fifty two times you see heads, and forty eight times you see tales. You can safely say for your one hundred flip experiment that it is “more probable than not” to see heads and to wonder whether you truly have a fair coin. Whether a flipped fair coin is heads or tails is independent of what the previous flip shows, but you should question whether you have a fair coin if the coin shows heads five times in a row.

        My question from all this is why the twelfth football was sufficiently inflated. Was it an oversight or a defect in the under-inflation / inflation process? As Ronald Reagan once famously stated regarding the Soviet Union, “Trust, but verify”. I propose that since it is generally agreed that a specified range of inflation is absolutely necessary to insure that all game balls are fair, then they be 100% inspected and certified by the NFL before games as being within the specified pressure range under conditions of standard temperature and atmospheric pressure, and randomly inspected and certified by the NFL during games. I am sure that the National Institute of Standards and Technology would be glad to assist in this vital matter. Is this excessive? More probable than not.

  4. Matt: While I think it’s a mistake to take this whole thing too seriously, a heftier penalty is appropriate. Exhibit A: We were subjected to repeated, bald-faced, I-didn’t-do-nothin’ lies from the Golden Boy, Tom Brady. Exhibit B: We suffered through a preposterous, pseudo-scientific press conference on atmospheric conditions conducted by “Mr. Wizard,” Bill Belichick. These are aggravating circumstances, no?

    1. Well, Danny boy, your comprehension of the situation is weak, too be kind. Not only was Belichick exonerated in the report, but his theory on the balls losing air was supported. Science is science. Maybe you should direct some of your passive aggressive anger in a positive direction…try reading something before you post about it!

      1. Well, Declan boy, I can see you’ve been waiting to pounce. First of all, I don’t see any logical connection between Belichick’s goof-ball press conference and his “exoneration.” Are you saying that Wells has somehow endorsed Belichick’s view of science and the natural universe? I don’t think so. If you choose to believe in Belichick science, you choose to believe that nature — rather than two low-level locker room employees — were responsible for those under-inflated footballs. That certainly wasn’t the way I read the conclusion of the Wells report. I think “passive-aggressive anger” (whatever that may mean) is a more desirable approach to polite discussion that waving a hatchet and screaming your head off, which is the way you came at me.

        1. Dan:

          Declan is a big Patriot fan; whenever I write about them he likes to take shots back at me. It is all in the spirit of fun (which sports are supposed to be) even if some like to play with hatchets.

      2. Declan:

        I seem to be in the company of most people who read the report. As for Belechick’s theory, the report rules that out as does science itself. The 4 balls of the other team were found to have not been under the weight they were at the start of the game. Unless the weather on one side of the field was sufficiently different from that on the other side then Belechick theory is not a straw to hang on to.

    2. Dan:

      Agree – those are aggravating factors. Perhaps if I increase the penalty to two games using an over inflated football that will compensate for that.

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