While we’re all college football fans here, the NFL is obviously king. And some wondered whether college pigskin might actually start eating into the popularity of the pros because of nonsense like DeflateGate. When the Patriots allegedly deflated footballs for their AFC Championship game against the Colts, the league witnessed yet another shakeup. First, the integrity of the league in general was called into question, and, secondly, Tom Brady’s reputation was scarred.
But after Sunday night’s Pats win over Indy, what was the real affect on the league? The fans watched. The ratings were great. And the conversation today isn’t about the integrity of the game, it’s about why Chuck Pagano tried such a ridiculous fake that backfired in his face.
We had controversy over those now-debunked reports that 11 of 12 New England balls were found to be under-inflated by around two pounds per square inch. Brady was deemed to be aware of these inappropriate activities. But despite six grueling months of debate and investigation, Sunday night was back to football as usual.
Brady’s drama was never-ending this summer. He denied knowledge of the whole situation but he was still banned for four games without pay, after failing to win an appeal. The ban was overturned by a judge a few weeks later but the Pats were hit with a $1million fine and forfeited two draft picks. But with the Pats still undefeated, and Brady playing all of the games, no one is even mentioning the whole saga at this point (besides the motivation it might give New England).
What was Brady’s offense?
Brady professed his innocence but he was said to have exchanged multiple text messages with Jim McNally, locker room attendant and John Jastremski, the equipment assistant, who were believed to be in contact with each other about deflating the balls. Where are those two guys? Nowhere near the radar of the NFL news.
Brady boxed himself into a corner when he said during the appeal that he asked an assistant to destroy his phone after his meeting with NFL investigators. He did this even though he knew electronic data from his phone would be needed during the investigation. It was, therefore, hard to see him as innocent in the case. Yes, there were signs referencing the cell phone from Indy fans. But again, it’s just secondary.
Deflating the balls didn’t make much difference as Brady and his team scored 28 points in the second half in the AFC Title Game when the balls were presumably at normal pressure. They scored 17 points with the supposedly deflated balls. They didn’t have much trouble scoring when it mattered Sunday night either.
However, Brady’s career was tainted. He has long been considered one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game. He has won 3 three Super Bowl MVP awards and four rings. He will now be remembered for his part in this scandal instead of being remembered for his contribution to professional football.
Effect on Integrity of the NFL
Deflategate opened an unfortunate chapter in the history of the NFL, as people everywhere voiced disappointment about the whole situation. However, the scandal has not affected the NFL that much in truth. It opened NFL teams up to more scrutiny but there haven’t been any decline in popularity since the case.
In every sphere there are people who try to cheat the system. If a bingo caller in Des Moines calls his friend’s numbers to help them win doesn’t mean all of bingo is corrupt. And just as new bingo sites are springing up all over the web, the NFL will continue to woo new fans. The integrity of an individual, or a few individuals has been called into question, not the integrity of the whole game.
The NFL is no stranger to controversy.
Players have been paid in the past to try to hurt other players. Nearly 1,000 players have been arrested in the past decade for various legal offenses. Over 90 cases of assault have been linked to NFL players.
If the NFL has continued to attract huge crowds and generate massive revenue after some of the turbulent cases it has seen in the past, it goes without saying that it will take more than the Patriots manipulation of the rule book to truly harm the popularity of the game.