New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, and head coach Bill Belichick, are now under fire as a result of Deflategate.
Their integrity is on the line as the team approaches a Super Bowl showdown against the Seattle Seahawks on February 1.
Did they cheat? Did they know that 11 of 12 game balls were significantly underinflated, as ESPN reported?
NFL sources told ESPN that those game balls were inflated two pounds per square inch below what’s required by NFL regulations.
That would have made it easier for Brady, and Patriots wide receivers Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell and Rob Gronkowski, to grip the ball in the rain as the Patriots trounced the Indianapolis Colts, 45-7, last Sunday during the AFC Championship Game.
It not only rained during the game, there were occasional downpours.
Yahoo! Sports’ Dan Wetzel said Brady should be at the center of the scandal.
“If he (Brady) didn’t instruct someone on the Patriots’ staff to make the football agreeable to his preferences, then he must have noticed the footballs were underinflated the moment he grabbed one, let alone across an entire first half,” Wetzel wrote. “This is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, known for his preparation and attention to detail. It’s not plausible that he didn’t either know or recognize the situation. There is nothing about the grip of a football that is going to escape him.”
“Belichick has some serious explaining to do,” wrote USA Today’s Jarrett Bell.
The minimum disciplinary action for tampering with a football is a $25,000 fine.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could increase the penalty to $500,000, and force the Patriots to forfeit a draft pick, if he determines that the Patriots knowingly deflated the balls to give themselves a competitive advantage in the game.
Of course, Deflategate would be a non-issue if it wasn’t for the Patriots’ last image-tarnishing scandal called Spygate back in 2007.
The NFL fined Belichick $500,000, and the Patriots $250,000 and a first round draft pick, for videotaping the New York Jets’ defensive coordinators’ signals.
The Patriots have won six AFC Championships and are 3-2 in the Super Bowl under Belichick’s and Brady’s leadership.
But this time, instead of honoring one of the greatest coaches, and one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, we’re left to wonder if they cheated their way to greatness.