Yesterday, Antonio Gates, Sheldon Richardson, Rolando McClain and Datone Jones were suspended four games each for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. More than anything, this news offers perspective on the Deflategate saga that has been the dominant topic of the New England Patriots’ offseason. While the NFL public likes to accuse the Patriots of “cheating” their way to sustained dominance, it’s clear that no team is exempt from monkey business.
That none of these players or their respective teams has been roasted in the media for cheating is indicative of how ridiculous Deflategate has become. Using the logic of Patriot-haters everywhere, rule breaking is deserving of asterisk marks, so why aren’t the accomplishments of these players and their teams being called into question?
The fact of the matter is that rule bending is as common in the NFL as concussions. Every team does it, and every player witnesses it or toes the gamesmanship line themselves. The violations incurred by Gates, Richardson, McClain and Jones are further evidence of that fact, and thus further support for the argument that the Patriots are far from being alone in the rule bending category.
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If Roger Goodell is serious about protecting “the integrity of the game”, he will treat these PED violations with more seriousness than Deflategate. You tell me: which affects the outcome of the physical sport of football more, juiced muscles or a slightly under-inflated football?
Deflategate is a tired topic of conversation, especially as real football nears. But let it be known that these recent PED suspensions prove that the Patriots aren’t deserving of the “cheaters” label, for the simple fact that rule bending is rampant across the NFL.
For more on the suspensions handed down yesterday, see what Cyrus Geller had to say about Bill Belichick’s smart decision to pass on Rolando McClain.