A Stones Throw 5-21-15

427

I have to admit, I have never liked the New England Patriots.

More directly, I do not like Coach Bill Belichick.

I think he is arrogant and that he thinks he is above reproach. This was never more evident than when he and the New England Patriots admitted to using electronic means to steal signals in order to get a competitive advantage.

While admitting the Patriots had violated league rules by videotaping the New York Jets defensive coaches’ signals during a September 9th, 2007 game, Belichick said having those signals did not affect the outcome of the game in any way.

So – according to Belichick, cheating is not cheating if you can win even if you hadn’t cheated.

The same was apparently true in Super Bowl XXXVI. That was the year, 2002, where the Patriots videotaped the final defensive walkthrough conducted by the Patriots opposition – the St. Louis Rams.

Belichick claimed he was not aware of any videotaping of the Rams defensive signals, but it didn’t make any difference, there would have been nothing in the videotape that would have affected the game.

Again, cheating is not cheating if you can win even if you had not cheated.

Which brings me to “deflategate.” After several months and millions of dollars, the Ted Wells report claimed that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady probably knew and probably was involved with the intentional deflating of the Patriots’ footballs that were to be used against the Indianapolis Colts.

At the same time, the Wells report indicates there is no evidence that Coach Bill Belichick and/or the Patriots’ ownership knew anything about the deflating activities.

It doesn’t really matter; Belichick once again said that even if the balls were a little low on air, it had nothing to do with the outcome of the game. I have to agree that this statement is correct. The way the Colts played that day, the Patriots would have won if they used bowling balls.

Still, it is the same story – third verse.

Cheating is not cheating if you can win even if you had not cheated.

I think the New England Patriots would have been better off leaving it that way.

I think most people know the Patriots believe in the NASCAR mantra – if you’re not cheating you’re not trying. In NASCAR terms, this means pushing the envelope to the limit. The Patriots, over the years, have found several ways to push the envelope both legally and illegally in a way that confuses and befuddles the opposition.

For instance, fans and teams alike cried foul last season when the Patriots told the officials that a lineman was an eligible receiver and that a wide receiver was not eligible. Still, the wide receiver set-up where he normally would. Meanwhile, the now eligible lineman set-up one yard off the line, but otherwise in his usual position.

The result – a touchdown pass to the now eligible lineman while the defense was busy defending the non-eligible wide receiver.

Fans and teams could cry foul all they wanted; the play was legal. (The NFL rules committee has now made this play illegal – but it was legal when the Patriots used it.)

I have always felt that while the Patriots like to push the envelope, and that even when they crossed the line between legal and illegal (in NFL terms), they somehow managed to stay above the fray. I have always felt that the New England Patriots and Coach Bill Belichick are one of the smartest franchises and coach in the National Football League.

Not anymore.

Deflategate has shown how petty and juvenile the Patriots really are. Last week their attorney issued a detailed response to the Ted Wells report on deflategate.

I try to read the Shoe and the Pickles cartoon strips every day so I can start my day with a smile. I didn’t have to do so last week. Instead, I read the New England Patriots response to deflategate.

First, keep in mind, the Patriots claim that there was no intentional deflating of the footballs. Instead, the balls lost air pressure due to the atmospheric conditions – apparently only on the Patriot’s side of the field.

In the Wells’ report, the most damning parts of the Wells’ report are text messages exchanged between Jim McNally and John Jastermski, two Patriots employees who worked in the locker room and talked a lot about Tom Brady and deflating footballs. McNally even referred to himself as “The Deflator” in one of the messages.

While this sounds incriminating, the Patriots have an explanation. In their rebuttal the Patriots claim: “Mr. Jastremski would sometimes work out and bulk up? he is a slender guy and his goal was to get to 200 pounds. Mr. McNally is a big fellow and had the opposite goal: to lose weight. “Deflate” was a term they used to refer to losing weight.”

Like Mr. McNally, I need to lose weight. I have to admit I have Googled “The Deflate Diet,” but so far I haven’t found anything. My next plan is to email Mr. McNally.

I am sure he will have time to respond to my email. It seems that both Jastremski and McNally have been suspended without pay for their involvement in deflategate.

I have to admit, I am not as smart as the Patriots, but I do have a couple of questions for them – First: Why are two equipment men suspended without pay for doing something you claim never happened?

And, how can you claim that there is no evidence that Tom Brady has ever indicated he likes “deflated” footballs. Several years ago when asked what he thought of the way tight end Rob Gronkowski spiked the football after scoring a touchdown, Brady said “I like it when Gronk slams the ball to the ground. It knocks some of the air out of the ball. I like the ball better when it is deflated a bit.”

Okay!

Was he just kidding? Or was he talking about a “Gronk diet?”

The bottom line: I think the NFL spent too much time and too much money on a rules violation that most players think has minimal, if any, affect. I am not sure what I think about the Brady suspension of four games. If it was only because he was somehow involved, I think the severity of the penalty is too severe. If the penalty is severe because in addition to being involved, he lied to Ted Wells, and refused to cooperate with the investigation, then maybe four games is about right.

At the same time, I think the New England Patriots come out of this whole scandal looking like immature children. If they believe most people will believe some of the excuses and explanations they have given, they are as naive as they hope most football fans are.

But then, who cares – The Patriots motto seems to be “cheating is not cheating if you can win had you not cheated.”

And – the New England Patriots will continue to win – either way.

Unfortunately.

I have many more thoughts on the Patriots “We didn’t do it, but if we did it didn’t matter” response, but I have to go now – I am starting my ‘deflate diet” today.

- Mike Cooney