DeflateGate: Put It In Perspective


Just like that, the media circus that is DeflateGate has awoken from its winter hibernation. 103 days of investigating, hundreds of pages of the Wells Report, and millions of dollars later, and Ted Wells & Co. have concluded that Tom Brady and the New England Patriots might be guilty of deflating footballs.

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Just like I might be Peter King. Probably, right? That’s what my mom tells me.

Until proven otherwise, I am not Peter King. Until proven guilty—you know, in such a fashion that would hold up in a court of law—Brady is innocent. Sure, the situation is fishy, some monkey business might have occurred, but if you put DeflateGate in perspective, you will see that it is largely water under the bridge.

Look, I’m not saying that Brady is innocent. But even if he’s guilty, you have to put it in perspective: we are talking about footballs. Sure, Brady may have had his equipment men tweak the PSI levels of some footballs. But think about the broader NFL landscape; to label Brady a “cheater” as so many Patriot-haters are quick to do so these days, you are implying that the rest of the NFL is a field of roses.

It’s not.

If you think that Brady is the only player in the NFL who pushes the boundaries of the rulebook, think again. It seems like every other week a player is caught with PEDs or other no-no drugs; the Seattle Seahawks are no strangers to these violations. The Cleveland Browns had TextGate. The Atlanta Falcons pumped noise into their stadium. No one is questioning the integrity of these franchises.

Know that I’m not trying to act like a little boy on the playground saying, “Well they cheat too!” I’m simply pointing out the fact that while we like to tell ourselves that our beloved NFL product is cleaner than Roger Goodell’s wardrobe, in reality, there are many rule breakers.

Attempting to undercut the legacy of one of the greatest quarterbacks to roam this planet by recycling the same “cheating” narrative over and over again? It just doesn’t hold weight.

Brady may get a slap on the wrist for this, and if proven guilty, deservedly so. But as’s Don Banks writes, the punishment will fit the crime, and the crime is not very significant. I repeat: even if Brady is found guilty, it’s not a very big deal when you take into account the rash of violations that occur on a regular basis in the NFL.

Like Musket Fire writer Jed Ober points out, all quarterbacks like their balls a certain way. The texts we see between the equipment men indicate that Brady is very particular about his being on the low end of the 12.5-13.5 PSI range.

Sure, you can go on and on about the slight competitive advantages that under-inflated balls gives the violator. Just like you can contend that other rule-breakers gain competitive advantages. But pointing at Brady, beholder of four Super Bowl rings, and tossing aside his accomplishments because of this?

That’s disrespectful.