The 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.