Deflate the controversy

Jimmy Ray Stagg, Web Sports Editor

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Deflate the Controversy

It’s rough being a Patriots fan right now. I mean, besides the fact that we’re marching to the Super Bowl to squash the Seahawks’ hopes of a repeat, we now have to defend ourselves and our team.

Following the New England Patriots’ emphatic 45-7 win in the AFC Championship over the Indianapolis Colts, there has been a huge scandal revolving around the deflation of some of the Patriots’ footballs, which would have made it easier to throw and grip in the nasty conditions both teams faced.

Granted, I am a Patriots fan and have a natural bias, but even looking at the facts and the way things happened, to me this has been blown way out of proportion. I know the Patriots have been caught cheating in the past, but everybody needs to ease up.

It has been proven that 11 of the Patriots’ 12 game balls were deflated below the limit that is allowed, I am not denying this. However, these 12 balls were taken out of play at halftime, and replaced with 12 backup balls, all approved by referees. In the second half, New England outscored the Colts 28-0.

Even if you take away the entire half where New England used possibly under-inflated balls, they still would be on their way to the Super Bowl with a 28-7 victory (also slightly beside the point but two of Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady’s three touchdown passes were in the second half, with regulation footballs).

Still, if there was some tampering on the offensive side, on the defensive side it cannot be denied that the Patriots were the more dominant team. Quarterback for the Colts, Andrew Luck, had 40 touchdowns on the season coming into the game, and didn’t throw a single score this game.

Members of the Colts even agree with me on this point. Tight end Dwayne Allen tweeted about the controversy, saying “They could have played with soap for balls and beat us. Simply the better team.”

This incident has inspired a whole conversation on the tampering of footballs, which more and more coaches and players are admitting is a common practice. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Brad Johnson acknowledged that before Super Bowl XXXVII he paid over $7,500 to have the footballs he would used be scuffed and worn in to grip them better.

Ex-Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart tweeted in defense of the Patriots, “Every team tampers with the footballs. Ask any QB in the league, this is ridiculous!!” He isn’t the only player speaking out against the controversy. Former NFL MVP Rich Gannon described quarterbacks as being like pitchers, saying they “[want] the ball a certain way,” and Carolina Panthers kicker Graham Gano cited instances where he noticed footballs become deflated without tampering.

The Patriots organization, through Brady and coach Bill Belichick, has repeatedly wiped its hands of the situation. Both parties have said that the Patriots did not intentionally tamper with the ball. During a press conference on Jan 24, Belichick mentioned several things, including internal studies regarding atmospheric pressure and the football’s internal equilibrium, and whether the atmospheric conditions in which the football was measured, and in which the football was used in the game had any effect on the air pressure inside the football.

Brady and Belichick both pressed the importance of feel and texture of a football to a quarterback. Belichick described that the footballs were often rubbed in order to become the right texture for the quarterback to use. He acknowledged that the rubbing process may affect the PSI of the ball, but then added that the rubbing was done prior to gameday, where the balls are given to the referees to inflate, and then kept away from the teams until the game begins.

Belichick also spoke about how the quarterbacks in the Patriots organization were unable to identify the difference between footballs deflated 1 PSI to regulation footballs, and were very inconsistently able to identify a 2 PSI difference.

Basically, what the Patriots (and I) are (am) saying is that the entire situation has been overinflated. Regardless of what happened or what will happen, the Patriots demolished the Colts and are on their way to the Super Bowl to hopefully do the same to the Seahawks (under much closer inspection this time).

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