What the what!? Jan 23: the Patriots balls
OK let's be real here. This brou-ha-ha about the footballs used during the AFC Championship between the Colts and the Patriots last Sunday is insane. Whatever you want to call it: "Deflategate," or "Inflategate," or even "CSI:PSI" -- we are talking about footballs. The air in footballs.
And everyone is WIGGING OUT. This is yet another example of the media getting a hold of a story (in a slow week) and shaking it around like a mad dog. As my wise friend Greg said today "When you take a step back and think that the worst case scenario is that someone on the Pats let a little air out of a football and the whole world is flipping the f*ck out, well, that's something isn't it?"
Yes, Greg, that is something. And as Tom Brady himself said yesterday "This isn't ISIS - no one's dying."
Here are some examples of the craziest reactions to "Deflategate" so far:
1. Troy Aikman comparing "Deflategate" to "Bountygate" on KTCK-AM in Dallas on Thursday morning. “To me, the punishment for the Patriots and/or Bill Belichick has to be more severe than what the punishment was for the New Orleans Saints.” Oh, OK. So allegedly decreasing air pressure in footballs is comparable to intentionally injuring opposing players for money a la "Bountygate." Um, what the WHAT?!?
Considering Brady is heading to his sixth Super Bowl with three rings already and could surpass Aikman on the Hall of Fame list with a win in Phoenix, Aikman’s opinion is bit biased, no?
2. Mark Brunelle cried on ESPN's "NFL Live." As a former QB for Jacksonville (does that count?), he's so offended by what Brady said it brought him to tears. Tears! "I did not believe what Tom had to say,” Brunelle said with a weepy voice.
[Bonus: Jerome Bettis "I need to take a sip of water!" - same video. Jesus, Mary and Joseph.]
Quite dramatic considering we are talking about a few soft balls (maybe they have experience?). Plus let's not forget, there is NO PROOF that the Pats had anything to do with this. All these talking heads are perpetuating the fantasy that the Pats are cheaters, not based in any sort of fact.
3. Peter King of SI.com suggested the NFL should institute background checks for ball boys and have metal detectors on the sidelines. Seriously. The NFL can't agree that domestic violence is bad and he's suggesting metal detectors and background checks for the BALL BOYS? King's colleague Don Banks shamed him a little bit saying "[the idea] sounds somewhat reasonable in today’s everything-is-absolutely-critically-important-and-we-must-get-it-right climate that pervades the NFL." Yup, sounds about right.
4. El Pres from Barstool Sports has a conspiracy theory that the Colts, Ravens and Goodell framed the Pats. This one is pure fun and I love that El Pres shows pretty legit evidence to sustain his theory. (Read more here.) Granted, this is about as believable as the idea that Brady conspired to deflate footballs considering -- let's not forget -- Brady is currently one of the best QBs in the league (if not the best) and one of the best, like, EVER. Would that level of player need to f*ck with football PSI to win a game?? Against the Colts?? Pleeeeeeeaaaase.
5. The reporters at Brady's press conference yesterday. As noted by Erik Frenz of Boston.com, "one by one, the awful questions were thrown at the Patriots quarterback like monkeys throwing poop at the wall, hoping one would hit and cause the cool, collected QB to crack." Some examples:
"When and how did you supposedly alter the balls?"
"Are you wondering if you’ve played with an under-inflated ball before?"
"You’re asking us to believe that you couldn’t tell 15 percent of the football was deflated and you didn’t notice?"
"You laughed this off on Monday on the radio. Now you’re more somber about it. What happened between Monday and today?"
"This has raised a lot of uncomfortable conversations for people around this country who view you as their idol. The question they’re asking themselves is, ‘What’s up with our hero?’ Can you answer right now, is Tom Brady a cheater?"
"How does it make you feel that they’re calling your team cheaters?"
And the best:
"For the fans that are watching and looking into that camera, what do you say?" TB: "I’m not sure. What would you like me to say? I’m not quite sure."
6.The NFL. The craziest response of all - which is NO RESPONSE*. The NFL and Roger Goodell are allowing this circus to go on. They haven't even talked to - or requested to talk to - Brady, the supposed culprit in this "scandal." Is it to gain viewership for the Superbowl? Because they "dropped the ball" (HA) in checking the balls before and during that AFC game? To draw attention away from the Ray Rice mess? Whatever. They should step in and put the kibosh on this thing. Make a ruling. If they can prove something, mete out a punishment and let's move on. We actually have a very exciting Superbowl coming up in just over a week. The two best teams in the league made it to the dance and it's going to be an awesome game.
*Since I wrote this, the NFL finally made a statement available. It doesn't really say much beyond that they are investigating. Read the statement here.
And this may be the most logical response:
Ben Watanabe of NESN this morning wrote:"I’m the person who just doesn’t get it, who can’t wrap his head around the hoopla. I’ve thought about it for days, and I still can’t come up with one tangible reason why the New England Patriots playing the AFC Championship Game with under-inflated footballs trumps every national news story this week and every NFL story this season — which, given the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson fiascos, is saying a lot.
"I’ve been waiting four days for one person to explain the supposedly deathly serious nature of Deflategate in a manner free of obvious contempt for the Patriots. Because, without sarcasm or facetiousness, I must be missing something. A lot of us must be missing something. We’d just like to know what it is."
I'm with ya Ben.
[Big thanks to my friend Greg Kelley (not the rapist, the other one) for the idea for this post and for providing me with some of the great links.]