056Commentary By: Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com


033“… The officials do a great job of being sure everything is up-to-date. With all the procedures they take, I find it hard to believe that someone could take two bags of 12 balls and deflate them. I don’t see where you could go with this large bag of balls. Do you lock yourself in a room? It’s not very feasible.” Gil Brandt, former vice president for player personnel with the Dallas Cowboys and current analyst for NFL Media, as quoted January 20 in The New York Times.


I am a New England Patriots fan.

Like most Pats fans I was on top of world after the AFC championship game victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, January 18, that advanced New England to the Super Bowl – only to awaken Monday morning to hear accusations of cheating against my team. Deflated balls?

Generously, I said victory, but the Pats’ 45-7 win was a routing.

The National Football League is investigating an allegation that the Patriots used deflated footballs to gain an edge. Pats’ quarterback Tom Brady has called the brouhaha “ridiculous” and Coach Bill Belichick told the media this morning in an press conference broadcast from Gillette Stadium that the team has cooperated “fully, completely and quickly” with the investigation. At last report, it appears eleven of twelve footballs used by the Pats were slightly deflated. Belichick also said, “I have no explanation for what happened.” Each team presented twelve footballs to the referees about two hours prior to the game to verify accurate ball pressure.

“Few football experts believe that slightly softer footballs were the reason,” reporter Ken Belson wrote in his January 20 NYT article about New England’s victory.

He also talked about the Pats pushing the limits in the past.

That said, the Colts did not look like they even belonged in a championship match-up – which begs the question of “sour grapes”?

Newsday has reported that a query was raised about a football in play after an interception by the Colts in the second quarter. At the half, the Patriots led 17-7 and returned to rack up another 21 points in the third quarter then 7 more in the final quarter. Continued success by the Patriots came after the alledged ball boohoo, when it would seem the referees would have checked on the pressure of the footballs.

As one local meterologist put it, knowledge that temperature affects air pressure – such as tire pressure – is “ninth grade physics.” Most of us who live in climates where the weather gets cold have likely come out to our vehicles following a dip in the thermometer to have the dashboard read “low tire pressure.” According to ehow.com, tire pressure varies with temperature because air takes up more volume at higher temperatures and less volume at lower temperatures. A typical change is one pound per square inch (psi). The same theory can seemingly be applied to footballs.

Belichick is well-known for keeping his teams out practicing in all kinds of extreme weather elements. Paraphrasing one televison commentator – the Patriots have an indoor practice facility but its doubtful the players know what it looks like. The Pats-Colts contest was played in wet, cold conditions.

Had they been paying attention – really paying attention – by quoting Dwight Eisenhower, Belichick seemed to put the Colts on notice in a press interview before the game, that the Patriots were coming to do battle. Belichick said, ” It’s like going back to Dwight Eisenhower’s quote, ‘Preparation is everything until the battle starts’….” Belichick’s full quote is, “Preparation is everything until the battle starts and then it doesn’t mean anything.” Still, anyone familiar with Belichick knows he does not mince words. His mentioning “Eisenhower”, a former United States president and five-star U.S. Army general, and use of the word “battle” pre-game was striking – it certainly got my attention.

The Colts did not come prepared.

Amid all the bellyaching about deflated balls, where has the righteous indignation been over that severe hit from a Colts’ linebacker that Brady took to his chest, after he had released the ball? The Colts were penalized 15 yards but that was the end of it. That hit was more than questionable – Brady’s head appeared to snap afterwards.

Playing fair is critical to any game, anything less does the sport and its fans a disservice. Fair play has to a be on both sides.

Personally, I’m sick of the apparent jealousy against the New England Patriots. There are those who cannot seem to stomach the fact that here in New Engalnd we have the seat of American democracy, are steeped in the proud history of our nation, have some of the best universities in the country plus access to superb art, music and culture. On top of all of that – New England has a three-time, Super Bowl championship, NFL Hall of Fame bound duo in Belichick and Brady.

Get over it and play ball.