Deflategate, Greg Hardy and the integrity of the NFL


Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Apologies ahead of time for talking about a non-football issue, as we here at Musket Fire prefer to provide football-oriented content. As you probably know by now, Greg Hardy uttered some regrettable (although he doesn’t regret them) words to the media this week, and it got me thinking about the still-breathing Deflategate monster.

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I’ll let you find the transcript on your own. I don’t really want to give Hardy’s words the light of day. The general gist, if you haven’t heard, is that Hardy took a public relations stance on domestic violence that made Ray Rice look like a saint.

As the showdown between the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys fast approaches, the spotlight is shining brightly on the two most hated franchises in the NFL. In many ways, they are very similar organizations.

Both have compiled dynasties. Forbes listed the Cowboys 4.0 billion dollars) and Patriots (3.2 billion bucks) as the first- and second-most valuable NFL franchises of 2015. One is dubbed “America’s Team”; the other wears America’s colors.

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This past Fourth of July, the most polarizing figure on both of these teams was not going to be playing in this game. Hardy was under a 10 game suspension for his wrongdoing, and the Patriots were preparing for life without Tom Brady until the regular season quarter-pole.

Circumstances for Hardy changed when his suspension was reduced to four games in mid-July, and Brady’s situation eventually changed for the better after taxpayer dollars funded Roger Goodell’s visit to federal court.

Now that the two players are clashing on the actual football field (you know, where actually football is played), the comparison between Hardy and Brady can’t be ignored. Think about it: the NFL let Deflategate become a subject of socially acceptable water cooler talk, while an actual threat to the “integrity of the game” went more or less overlooked.

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The Cowboys may be “America’s Team”, but Hardy’s press episode lost the sympathy of a bunch of rational neutral viewers. Many a casual football fan will watch the game on Sunday and realize that in the grand scheme of things, No. 76 in white puts the integrity of football at much greater risk than a quarterback who may or may not like his footballs a little less pumped up than, say, Aaron Rodgers.

Think about it.

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