Deflategate: Much To Do About Nothing
As the Super Bowl is upon us, let me give full disclosure. I’m not a New England Patriots or a Seattle Seahawk fan. I respect both teams for their strengths. The Seahawks have one of the top defenses every assembled. They have an “ahhh shucks”, big play quarterback that has a chance to win his second Super Bowl in a row and a running back that everyone wants to hear say something and says nothing like, “I’m here so I don’t get fined.” The Patriots are known for the great quarterback play of Tom Brady, superior coaching of Bill Belichick, offensive innovation, and attention to detail. The tandem of Brady and Belichick has a chance to win their 4th Super Bowl together since 2000 while Seattle can win two in a row which would be the first time since the Pats repeated in the 2003 and 2004 Super Bowls.
All Super Bowls have story-lines of opposition. For instance, this one could have a great offense of the Patriots against a great defense of the Seahawks; experienced, brash and handsome QB against up and coming, humble QB who thanks God and his teammates for his accomplishments or even the differences between the head coaches. One is disheveled, acerbic and a media-hater while the other is attractive and fan, player and media-friendly.
So where is the focus of Super Bowl XLIX? The media and fans are focused on Deflategate. Unless you’ve been in a coma for the last two weeks, you know that the New England Patriots have been under fire for perhaps using footballs in the first of half of their AFC Championship victory over the Indianapolis Colts 45-7…..that’s right…..45-7. Never mind that the Pats scored more points in the second half against these same Colts after the balls were re-flated to the league requirement of 12.5-13.5 lbs. It wouldn’t have mattered if the Pats played with 10 lbs, oblong, triangular or flat footballs. They beat a below average team by 38 points.
Nightly news has subjected us to the day’s new turn of events on these 11 footballs that were allegedly under-inflated by 1.5 lbs. Bill Belichick has given us a science lesson for a presser with some great pop culture references when he mentioned Marisa Tomei's character Mona Lisa Vito in “My Cousin Vinny.”(2)
The usually media savvy and charismatic, Tom Brady, gave a train-wreck of a news conference with that deer in the head-lights look and pulled his inner Sergeant Schultz saying in essence, “I know nosing.” And today’s subject is NFL video supposedly showing a Pats ball boy disappearing into a men’s room for 90 seconds on his way to the field with the bag of game balls after receiving them from the Referees. There are two things I can guarantee you about me and a men’s room. One, I couldn’t deflate 11 footballs in 90 seconds in there and two….I couldn’t do what you’re supposed to do in a men’s room in 90 seconds either! But then again, I am 54.
Where are those great stories that go on in Super Bowl pasts? I don’t care about 1.5 lbs of pressure. Give me stories like Jim McMahon (Chicago Bears QB in 1985) mooning a TV helicopter during Super Bowl practice. Give me the irony of Atlanta safety, Eugene Robinson, being arrested for soliciting sex from an undercover police officer in 1999 hours after receiving ”The Bart Starr Award” from the religious group, Athletes in Action highlighting high moral character. I wouldn’t mind seeing another 2003 incident when Raider’s center, Barret Robbins, disappeared into Mexico for a night of partying and was missing most of the day of the game.(3) So in pantheon of interesting or salacious Super Bowl stories, Deflategate will unfortunately not measure up to stories in the days gone by.
Do the Patriots push the envelope…absolutely!! Have they cheated in the past to obtain an edge….absolutely (see Spygate, 2007). Have baseball teams grown infield turf too high because the home team bunts a lot…absolutely. Have hockey teams turned up the heat in buildings so the ice gets a tad mushy because their opponent wins with their speed….absolutely. Let’s focus on what’s really interesting in Super Bowls on and off the field! Let’s focus on what’s important in any Super Bowl….beer, wings and chips and dip.