Tuesday, January 27, 2015


The quarterback and his coach
        I have mixed emotions about the "deflategate" controversy. I don't like the rush to judgment against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady that has characterized much of the discussion on the social media and public media.Too many commentators are acting as if the Boston coach and his quarterback are guilty until proven innocent.
        On the other hand the fact that eleven of the twelve footballs used by the New England Patriots in their AFC Championship win over the Indianapolis Colts on January 18 were found to be below the allowed air pressure range does raise questions. How did it happen? Did someone tamper with the footballs? Did either Brady or Belichick know about it, or have anything to do with it? Why is it taking so long to find out, and is there anything to the rumor that the culprit was an equipment manager?
        Could the drop in pressure have been weather related? There have been conflicting opinions   offered by scientists about that possibility. Regardless of the cause, did the deflated footballs give the Patriots an unfair advantage over the Colts? I seriously doubt it. The lop-sided score is enough of an indication that the Patriots were the far better team that day both offensively and defensively.
        It disturbs me that the National Football League has not completed its investigation by now, announced the results, and put the whole thing to rest, so everyone can focus on the what they ought to be focusing on: the Super Bowl!
        Many of the Belichick bashers are assuming his guilt because of his previous involvement in "spygate," when the Patriots were found guilty of videotaping the defensive signals of the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game between the two teams on September 10, 2007. Belichick claimed that what he did was not in violation of the rules, but he was fined the maximum amount of $500,000 for his role in the affair, the biggest fine imposed on a coach in the history of the NFL, and the Patriots were hit with a $250,000 fine plus the loss of a first-round draft pick (see Spygate).
        It is believed by some that stealing the opposing teams signals has been in the past a more common practice than has ever been admitted. The Patriots just happened to get caught. So did the Denver Broncos in 2010 (see Broncos Fined).
        This issue reminds me of a panel discussion on NBC radio in which I participated way back in 1964 on the subject of "Morality in Sports" (see "My Reactions to 42") It was moderated by former Major League catcher and then a sportscaster, Joe Garagiola, and the three panelists were Jackie Robinson, myself, and a gentleman who was the current president of the Police Athletic League of New York. One of the questions raised was the moral legitimacy of stealing the other team's signs. We all agreed that it was an expected part of the game. That's why baseball teams take so many precautions to try to prevent their signs (signals) from being detected.
        Garagiola then asked, "What if the home teamed planted someone with binoculars out in the center field just for that purpose?" We all agreed that would be going too far. Admittedly football and baseball are different sports, but their attitudes toward stealing the other teams' signals are entirely different.
        For a refreshingly different perspective on the "deflategate" controversy, take a moment to watch what this Eyewitness News commentator had to say about the issue. He is absolutely convinced that Tom Brady was involved, but for this broadcaster, What's the big deal?
        To which many others would reply, "It's a big deal if it's against the rules!"

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