Once again, the Patriots are in the news for the wrong reasons. If you live under a rock, Bob Kraft was involved in a prostitution ring. Bart Scott on WFAN said they should have all of their draft picks stripped to “cripple them.” The owner of where I work came in Saturday and asked me for my thoughts on it. People are saying the Patriots have “cheated, murdered, and been involved in human trafficking.” From what a lot of people are saying, the issue is not that an NFL owner was involved in a prostitution ring. The problem is the Patriot’s owner was involved in a prostitution ring. This comes from the Patriot’s scandalous reputation the past 15 years, which deserves a deeper look.
Spygate is the event that kicked it off. After a game on September 9th, 2007 against the Jets, the Patriots were accused of filming the Jets defensive staff from an on-field location. This has grown to the Patriots filming walkthroughs of their previous three Super Bowl opponents due to a claim by a former video assistant. The Boston Herald even published a story the day before Super Bowl XLII. If a news outlet puts it out, they’ve probably checked sources and at least seen incriminating evidence, right? Surprisingly, no. In May of 2008, the Herald issued a follow up article apologizing for their initial report. They had not seen the video, nor talked to anyone that had. There is not any verifiable evidence that New England filmed previous walk throughs.
Let’s take look at what we do know for certain happened on that September day twelve years ago. The main point you hear is, “the Patriot’s recorded the Jets sideline during a game, they’re a bunch of cheaters.” Fun fact, that was allowed. They did it in the wrong spot, which yes, is cheating. The Game Operations manual states, “no video recording devices of any kind are permitted to be in use in the coaches’ booth, on the field, or in the locker room during the game.” This continues saying “all video shooting locations must be enclosed on all sides with a roof overhead.” As much as I want to, I cannot argue the Patriots did nothing wrong, as this was “cheating.” The actual filming was not the issue though. All of this, however, was blown out of proportion. The “he said, she said” nature of what came next only exacerbated this.
We all “know” what happened. Tom Brady threw an interception in the AFC championship game to D’Qwell Jackson. Jackson then took the ball to the sideline and gave it to an assistant coach because he thought it was flat. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that eleven out of the twelve balls were severely under inflated. Everything except the interception is wrong. D’Qwell Jackson wanted the ball as a souvenir, and couldn’t tell if it was properly inflated or not. He would go on to say that he didn’t even know that could be an advantage, and that “it wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the game,” citing the Patriots ability to create turnovers, run game, and intensity as the deciding factors. Oh, and those “eleven out of twelve” balls was really one out of twelve.
Still, the NFL has rules, and deliberately inflating the ball under that PSI (13.5-12.5 PSI) is cheating. But was it deliberate? During the game, the temperature dropped to the high-40’s. It is safe to assume that team areas in Gillette Stadium are heated. Based on gas laws, if volume remains constant and the temperature drops, so will pressure. This means that you cannot just say “oh, the pressure dropped so Brady cheated.” People don’t like that answer, because it doesn’t fit the narrative they want, that the Patriots are cheaters. “But the court ruled in favor of the NFL, so they ruled that he cheated.” Once again, no. The court ruled that Roger Goodell had the power to suspend Brady, and that he did not violate any rules and “did not deprive Brady of any fundamental fairness.”