‘Deflategate’: Patriots under fire

Austin Burmester, Staff Writer

The recent 2015 AFC Champion, the New England Patriots are now under investigation for allegedly using deflated footballs during their 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. The Patriots are no doubt one of the best teams in the NFL and many, including myself, were not surprised with the Patriots win.

The Patriots’ victory over the Colts was a blowout. But shortly after the game, the victory’s integrity came into question. Some people may think that slightly deflated footballs in a game wouldn’t make too much of an impact on the outcome. Those people would be wrong.

There is much more to a deflated football than the actual weight of the ball. A deflated football is easier to grip and easier to catch, especially in Foxborough, Massachusetts, where the weather conditions of rain and 40 to 50 degree weather are not preferred. It’s a known fact that the opposing team traveling to Gillette Stadium is already at a huge disadvantage, but if these allegations are true, it is impossible to say how different the score would’ve been.

About two hours before every game, the head referee weighs the 12 footballs from each team about two hours before the game. The league rules require that every ball must be inflated between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch and also weigh between 14-15 ounces. Walt Anderson, head referee during the AFC Championship game, weighed all 24 balls and confirmed that every ball was legally inflated.

The allegations first began when Colt’s defensive linebacker D’Qwell Jackson intercepted a pass thrown by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Once Jackson returned to his sideline after the interception, he sensed the ball seemed a little light. NFL sources say Jackson handed the football to a member of the Colt’s equipment staff who agreed it seemed deflated. The Colt’s equipment manager in turn notified Chuck Pagano, who then alerted Colt’s general manager Ryan Grigson, who brought it to the attention of Mike Kensil, director of NFL operations.

When head coach Bill Belichick addressed the media Jan. 22 he said, “When I came in Monday morning I was shocked to learn of the news reports about the footballs. I had no knowledge whatsoever of this situation until Monday morning.” Belichick has also told the NFL that the organization will “cooperate fully with whatever questions they ask us and whatever they want us to do.”

Tom Brady, on the other hand, was not as calm and cool about the allegations as his coach. Brady told the media, “I have no idea. I think I’ve heard it all at this point. That’s the last of my worries. I don’t even respond to stuff like this.”

Brady is one of the best, if not the best quarterback to ever play the game, and has always seemed like a truly good person. If the allegations are true, many football fans would be absolutely shocked if he was in any way involved.

This is not the first scandal the Patriots have had to deal with. In many sports fans’ eyes they are still looked at as cheaters. In 2007, the NFL investigated and eventually punished the Patriots for a scandal when a member of the Patriots staff videotaped the New York Jets defensive coaches’ signals. The scandal, later deemed “Spygate,” resulted in the NFL punishment of a $500,000 fine for Belichick, a $250,000 fine to the Patriots, and loss of the organization’s first-round draft pick in 2008.

As of today, the deflated ball investigation is still underway. Regardless of the outcome the Patriots are on their way to Super Bowl XLIX, but if found guilty, they face removal of draft picks and most likely a heavy fine. Those punishments won’t change the outcome of the game, but the Patriots organization will forever be tainted with two cheating scandals.

Did the Patriots deflate their footballs to gain an advantage in the AFC Championship game? Or was it the Indianapolis Colt’s defense that was deflated in their 45-7 loss?

We don’t know who will win the Super Bowl, but if the Patriots are found guilty and win, close to nobody will feel it was deserved.