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View Full Version : What to do about underinflated footballs?



Perks
01-21-2015, 06:53 PM
There's been all this chatter about the New England Patriots possibly underinflating the footballs (http://www.si.com/nfl/2015/01/20/new-england-patriots-deflated-footballs-nfl-investigation) they supplied for the AFC championship game on Sunday.

11 of the 12 balls tested each proved to be two pounds light. What I'm hearing is that the underinflated balls would have afforded better grip, but that the bigger problem is that the balls would behave slightly differently than expected by the players who had been practicing with (and expecting) standard footballs.

So, what do we think AW NFL watchers?

I don't feel like I understand the issue well enough yet to light the fuse on my sports-outrage cannon. I mean, I'm working on it...

Jcomp
01-21-2015, 07:37 PM
Thing is, far as I'm aware (and I could be way, way off base here), the Pats under-inflated footballs were pretty much used only by them on offense. It's a violation and it should be punished, but given how badly they blew the doors off the Colts in the Championship game, it doesn't seem like a deciding factor in the outcome of the game.

I also tend to be of the mind that most teams engage in some form of cheating or at least rule-bending if they can get away with it, so I don't see it as that big of a big deal.

With THAT said, if the NFL decides to take away draft picks to punish the Pats, I'd like to see some new system set up where those lost draft picks aren't just skipped over on draft day, as they are now, but instead put up for some kind of auction or bidding process, or awarded to another team through one of the NFL's infinite tie-breaker scenarios. Just to make things that much more interesting...

Perks
01-21-2015, 07:44 PM
Yeah, that seems to be what I'm getting out of my reading, too. Watching the game, it's kind of hard to see how the Colts could have beaten the Patriots.

I guess what I don't understand is why both teams don't play out of the same ball pool? It just seems like that makes it too easy for tampering.

ElaineA
01-21-2015, 08:44 PM
This feels like a tempest in a teapot, and that's coming from a Seattle fan. I blame the NFL more than the Pats. Why would they give game balls to the teams to potentially mess with? In baseball, the umpires control the game balls all the way until first pitch. And after. They're constantly removing scuffed baseballs. The NFL refs should have control of the game balls until kick off, and there should be an official responsible to keep an eye on the spares throughout the game.

cornflake
01-21-2015, 11:45 PM
It's just how it works.

Teams keep pucks too - they need to be frozen. Balls need to be inflated. The league itself checks them pre-game but then each team has a stash of their own.

Tom Brady cheating would not be shocking - they know the punishment; I'd wager they decided to take the punishment.

mirandashell
01-21-2015, 11:50 PM
That's what I think too. Losing draft picks ain't much a of punishment compared to the reward of getting into the Superbowl.

And I think the worse thing about it is that the Superbowl this year is now tainted with the doubt.

No wonder everyone but the Pats fans hate the Pats.

Shadow_Ferret
01-22-2015, 12:44 AM
This isn't the first times the Patriots have cheated.

I was think the Pats should be suspended, starting now, and they have a round robin between Green Bay, Indy, and Seattle for the Superbowl title.

Shadow Dragon
01-22-2015, 04:15 AM
I doubt the NFL acts quickly enough for any decision to effect the upcoming Superbowl. However, this being the Patriots' second major scandal during a postseason run, the punishment needs to be harsh. I'd say, give them the same punishment the Saints got for the bounty scandal. Take their top draft pick and suspend Belichick for all of next season.

chompers
01-22-2015, 07:34 AM
I don't understand why they should be penalized. I mean, I understand they were cheating, but doesn't the onus fall on the people who check the balls? The balls are checked before the game and were allowed. Unless they were deflated during the game?

Btw, I say this as someone who can't stand the Pats.

cornflake
01-22-2015, 08:01 AM
I don't understand why they should be penalized. I mean, I understand they were cheating, but doesn't the onus fall on the people who check the balls? The balls are checked before the game and were allowed. Unless they were deflated during the game?

Btw, I say this as someone who can't stand the Pats.

They were deflated during the game (presuming the ESPN report is correct).

The league checked the balls before the game and they were within regulation limits. After, apparently 11 of 12 were about 2lbs of pressure short. That'd indicate nothing but that someone had the equipment guy deflate the balls to someone's (*ahem*Brady*ahem*) specifications.

poetinahat
01-22-2015, 08:53 AM
I don't think it matters whether "everybody does it", or whether it affected the outcome of the game. Is it allowed, or not? And is it certain that the Patriots did it, or not?

Having said that, it sounds like the deflation issue is... overblown. (HA!) Apply the law and be done with it. The question for me is: Why?

This reminds me of millionaires who shoplift. I don't think it's so much about the benefit, but about hubris - and getting away with it. The Browns, for all we know, could have been doing this all year, but who would check?*

The whole Spygate thing was years ago now, but... the extra ineligible receiver thing is still warm - and probably more likely to cast a shadow.

With coaches, players and referees having to check every play to see who's eligible and who's not, an already-confusing game will become a complete tangle. More confusion, more penalties for technicalities, longer games. THAT... will suck.

For me, it just makes the Patriots that much harder to like - I'm a fair-play guy, not a loophole guy. I won't holler about them being cheats, but I don't have to like their style.

--

*: For the record, the LeBrowns wouldn't. I just know in my Ohio heart.

chompers
01-22-2015, 09:22 AM
They were deflated during the game (presuming the ESPN report is correct).

The league checked the balls before the game and they were within regulation limits. After, apparently 11 of 12 were about 2lbs of pressure short. That'd indicate nothing but that someone had the equipment guy deflate the balls to someone's (*ahem*Brady*ahem*) specifications.Oh, then that makes sense. Every article I'd read never mentioned WHEN the deflating happened.

Burn them at the stake! (Okay, a bit dramatic, but...)

cornflake
01-22-2015, 09:34 AM
I don't think it matters whether "everybody does it", or whether it affected the outcome of the game. Is it allowed, or not? And is it certain that the Patriots did it, or not?

It is decidedly not allowed (again, presuming the ESPN report is correct). It's at least one rule violation, period, and likely more (the balls being under regulation is a violation - engineering them, lying, etc., could be others).

I don't see any possibility besides the Patriots (at least someone within the org.) did it. The balls are theirs, on their sideline and within their possession before, during and after the game. Unless the idea is that someone from the opposition snuck over, unnoticed, to deflate the Pats' balls to Brady's preference (which makes less than no sense), or a very specific fan had a lot of time, expertise, and an invisibility cloak, the Pats did it.

Having said that, it sounds like the deflation issue is... overblown. (HA!) Apply the law and be done with it. The question for me is: Why?

Brady likes them soft. Some QBs do, some don't. If you do, and they are made that way for your offensive plays, that can be a decided advantage. It can also provide a psychological boost in the form of hubris, in the form of knowing the balls are 'better' for you, etc.

This reminds me of millionaires who shoplift. I don't think it's so much about the benefit, but about hubris - and getting away with it. The Browns, for all we know, could have been doing this all year, but who would check?*

If there was suspicion, someone would check. If there's not, regardless, there are random equipment checks all season.

The whole Spygate thing was years ago now, but... the extra ineligible receiver thing is still warm - and probably more likely to cast a shadow.

With coaches, players and referees having to check every play to see who's eligible and who's not, an already-confusing game will become a complete tangle. More confusion, more penalties for technicalities, longer games. THAT... will suck.

For me, it just makes the Patriots that much harder to like - I'm a fair-play guy, not a loophole guy. I won't holler about them being cheats, but I don't have to like their style.

--

*: For the record, the LeBrowns wouldn't. I just know in my Ohio heart.

I don't think this is a loophole thing. It's a clear violation, designed to benefit a player and team.

Equipment violations aren't new to any sport - there have been tarred balls, bats, curved sticks, broad pads, etc. This level at this game is kind of an extreme flout - so very Tom Brady.

poetinahat
01-22-2015, 10:09 AM
Agree the ball issue is not a loophole thing. That's the first thing I said in my post.

When I asked, "why?", I meant, "why risk getting caught, punished, shamed for such debatable upside?"

The loophole comment was related to the eligible-receiver thing. More generally, though, it refers to my view of letter-of-law vs spirit-of-law.

I can't comment on what would be "so very Tom Brady".

Shadow Dragon
01-22-2015, 03:02 PM
Agree the ball issue is not a loophole thing. That's the first thing I said in my post.

When I asked, "why?", I meant, "why risk getting caught, punished, shamed for such debatable upside?"
For the why, I think it's just the way Belichick is. He wants to leave nothing to chance and will take any advantage he can get.

cornflake
01-22-2015, 04:36 PM
Agree the ball issue is not a loophole thing. That's the first thing I said in my post.

When I asked, "why?", I meant, "why risk getting caught, punished, shamed for such debatable upside?"

The loophole comment was related to the eligible-receiver thing. More generally, though, it refers to my view of letter-of-law vs spirit-of-law.

I can't comment on what would be "so very Tom Brady".

The punishment is negligible, especially when compared with the potential upside in this game, though they've apparently felt that way in other games as well.

I don't think shame factors into it at all - it's not the first (or second or third, or...) time they've been accused of cheating. It wouldn't be the first time they were caught cheating. I don't think some of the people we're talking about have the basic capacity for shame, heh.

ElaineA
01-22-2015, 06:20 PM
Yes, the risk/reward equation is in favor of the deflator. *heh, ahm a writer so I can make up new uses for werds*

Consider that before the Seahawks/GB game, the NFL threatened to suspend Marshawn Lynch for wearing "non-league-sanctioned" shoes. SUSPEND. From that very game. For gold shoes. But you can manipulate the game balls (which may, in fact, actually affect the outcome of the game--if only in a small way) and the punishment is losing a draft pick the following year. If you're willing to step over the "rules" line to find an edge, clearly the risk here is minimal. Fine, punish me after I've won the SB. *shrug*

Personally, I still think the competitive gain was minimal to the Pats and the brouhaha is a big media construct, but clearly it WAS a rules violation so, YAY, distractions!

As has happened so many times this year, what this incident really points out is the ridiculous inconsistency of the NFL's fine and punishment system. That's where the spotlight should be.

robeiae
01-22-2015, 06:30 PM
I don't think it matters whether "everybody does it", or whether it affected the outcome of the game.

Agree. Whether or not the Patriots would have still have beaten the Colts with properly inflated balls (and yeah, I think they would have too) is inconsequential, imo.

Rules are rules. They're either enforced or they're not. And this isn't supposed to be professional wrestling. Both teams in a game are supposed to be playing by the same rules. If one of them is intentionally breaking rules and gets caught doing so...screw 'em. They should forfeit the game. That's the only way they'll ever learn.

Richard Sherman actually made a good point on this (http://www.nj.com/super-bowl/index.ssf/2015/01/richard_sherman_says_patriots_reward_was_worth_the _risk_of_deflating_balls.html), though maybe he was too subtle for some of the reporters covering the story.

ElaineA
01-22-2015, 06:50 PM
OH MY GAWD, I'm dying here! :roll:

NFL just announced Marshawn Lynch was fined $20,000 for an "obscene gesture" on Sunday when after his TD he...you guessed it!...GRABBED HIS BALLS!

This league......at least it keeps me laughing.

jimmymc
01-22-2015, 07:34 PM
Maybe they deliberately deflated the footballs and maybe they didn't. Air pressure changes with ambient temperature. Inflation pressure would decrease from warm indoors to cold outdoors.

Shadow Dragon
01-22-2015, 07:57 PM
Maybe they deliberately deflated the footballs and maybe they didn't. Air pressure changes with ambient temperature. Inflation pressure would decrease from warm indoors to cold outdoors.
Air pressure and temperature doesn't cause a lose of two pounds, and it didn't effect the Colts' footballs at all.

robeiae
01-22-2015, 08:01 PM
Maybe the Patriots were keeping their balls on ice...

mirandashell
01-22-2015, 08:04 PM
Then it would have affected all the balls. Not just the Pats

PorterStarrByrd
01-22-2015, 08:15 PM
As an ex -official, While I can appreciate the value of a severely underinflated ball as regards handling it, I'd defy you to detect on underinflated one that is short 1 ot 2 lb's from one at the lower edge of legality. I'd also doubt it has much real effect to the game.
Yeah, the QB has a little better control of it and the runner is a little less likely to drop it, but in the hands of pros, not enough to make a difference. It is also a little harder for the receiver to catch.
The rule was established back when everyone used the same ball, and one team could gain advantage (the home team who supplied them) by having practiced with a very soft or very hard ball that would be used in the game without the other team doing so.
Should they punished? Yes, a heavy fine should be levied, only to reinforce intolerance of rule violations.
Is it relative to the result, especially in that game. No.

Perks
01-22-2015, 08:53 PM
OH MY GAWD, I'm dying here! :roll:

NFL just announced Marshawn Lynch was fined $20,000 for an "obscene gesture" on Sunday when after his TD he...you guessed it!...GRABBED HIS BALLS!

This league......at least it keeps me laughing.

Ha! I saw him do that and my husband didn't. He ended up rewinding, because he couldn't believe that he'd done something that flagrant.

robeiae
01-22-2015, 09:11 PM
Should they punished? Yes, a heavy fine should be levied, only to reinforce intolerance of rule violations.With regard to NFL, what's a "heavy fine"? Because the Pats--as an organization--don't seem to bat an eye over dollar signs or even a draft pick, when it comes to punishment.

Is it relative to the result, especially in that game. No.
Sure, one can reasonably say it had no impact. But if the game hinged on a miraculous last second throw and catch by the Pats, might it have an impact? Who can say.

But imo, that doesn't matter. The rules either mean something or they don't.

Lavern08
01-22-2015, 09:38 PM
...And I think the worse thing about it is that the Superbowl this year is now tainted

Yeah, that ^ :(

Jcomp
01-22-2015, 09:47 PM
With regard to NFL, what's a "heavy fine"? Because the Pats--as an organization--don't seem to bat an eye over dollar signs or even a draft pick, when it comes to punishment.

Sure, one can reasonably say it had no impact. But if the game hinged on a miraculous last second throw and catch by the Pats, might it have an impact? Who can say.

But imo, that doesn't matter. The rules either mean something or they don't.

Well, the rules mean something, and the punishment reflects what the league thinks of the rule. Just like any other penalty. The league thinks a blow to the head is worth a 15-yard flag, while a false start is just 5-yards. Either one, if not flagged or caught, can give the offending team an advantage. In this case, they think under-inflated footballs warrant a fine and maybe lost draft picks. That's how much the rule means to them. The rulebook starts off with a $25,000 fine for altered or non-reg footballs. That's what the NFL thinks of the situation.

I also think it plays into the general nature of most organized, professional sports. Everybody's looking to get away with something. If one player fouls another in a basketball game and the ref doesn't call it, he don't go to the ref and say "hey, I got him on that last one, give him his free throws." If a lineman in football gets away with holding, he doesn't tell the ref, "move us back ten yards; you didn't see it, but I held the sh*t out of that guy." When Gretzky got away with high-sticking Gilmour in the Finals, he didn't go ahead and put himself in the penalty box anway, even though none the refs claimed to see it. So on and so forth. Golf is the one sport where players are expected to police themselves honestly, and sometimes in soccer when it comes to handballs, it seems. Everything else, we seem to be pretty complacent with players getting an illegal edge here and there in game. So at the team level, to me, again it's kind of "meh." Punish the Pats and then keep it moving.

Ultimately, I think the NFL's punishment system isn't really all that severe for this sort of thing, or any other on-field cheating / gamesmanship really. Take, for example, PED's. You get 4 games or so, then you're back on the field. The team doesn't forfeit any games you played and you can be back in time for the playoffs, as was the case with the Ravens' Ngata this season. Compare that to college, where you can get entire championships voided if it's proven you had ineligible players on the team during your season. Not apples to apples, but it illustrates a bit of a point. The NFL has had this sort of activity going on for years. The late great George Allen used to talk about spies being in the trees during NFL Films specials and it was treated as a joke. Granted, times change, but the whole "cheating" thing just doesn't appear to be that big of a priority, regardless of whatever statements they may make claiming otherwise.

I think the NFL sort of likes this kind of thing--anything on-field related that keeps people talking about the sport. And they can get away with it. If nothing else this whole year has pretty much proven to them that their league is virtually scandal-proof. The masses will watch, regardless. The Super Bowl will do its usual ridiculous numbers. The advertisers will pay out their usual riduculous checks for a minute of airtime. Short of a revelation that the Super Bowl is completely fixed or something, there's apparently very little that can dent the popularity of the game.

Jcomp
01-22-2015, 10:38 PM
But imo, that doesn't matter. The rules either mean something or they don't.

Also, according to the NFL's rules (which, I know, don't have to match anyone's opinion in this discussion anyway), apparently it does matter

(Just for the rec, I'm bored, that's why I'm talking about this so much, plus there aren't too many other internet safe havens where you can talk about sports in anything approaching a reasonable fashion).

From the ESPN article on the discovery of the violation:


Rule 17, Section 2 of the NFL rule book gives Goodell "the sole authority to investigate and take appropriate disciplinary and/or corrective measures if any club action, non-participant interference, or calamity occurs in an NFL game which he deems so extraordinarily unfair or outside the accepted tactics encountered in professional football that such action has a major effect on the result of the game."

Bolding mine. But basically, according the NFL's rule book, the level of impact on the game totally matters when it comes to whether or not the commish should make the offendng team forfeit the victory.

robeiae
01-23-2015, 01:30 AM
That's in there for stuff not covered by the rules. Did it get added because of the snow-plow incident in 1982? Something in my mind says "yes," but I can't find any cites in that regard. And hey, that was the stinkin' Pats too!



Regardless, I'm given to understand Harvard Law School has now suspended classes temporarily because of the angst over this incident and its long-term legal ramifications.

ElaineA
01-23-2015, 01:48 AM
All I know now is that the Brady-answers-questions-about-balls skit will open SNL this week.

Shadow Dragon
01-23-2015, 02:38 AM
Found a great parody of the situation by mixing deflate-gate with a cialis commercial. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vd3D2gsPUR0

ElaineA
01-23-2015, 02:57 AM
The press conferences today were GOLD. And in front of the Gillette Trackball banner, no less.

Belichick: "Tom Brady has preferences for his balls...er...his footballs..."

And then Brady: "After I pick the balls out, I don't want anyone touching them, rubbing them..." *shifty little grin* "...the footballs..."

Andrew Luck got his digs in, too. "The loss was deflating...oh shit..." *sly grin*

I'm actually getting kind of nervous this is going to keep the Pats so loose with laughter they'll be all freewheelin' on SB Sunday. :-/

poetinahat
01-23-2015, 03:46 AM
I don't think shame factors into it at all - it's not the first (or second or third, or...) time they've been accused of cheating. It wouldn't be the first time they were caught cheating. I don't think some of the people we're talking about have the basic capacity for shame, heh.

That's my feeling too - they just do shit because they can.

Snowstorm
01-23-2015, 06:44 AM
Found a great parody of the situation by mixing deflate-gate with a cialis commercial. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vd3D2gsPUR0

You beat me to it. Dang, but that's funny!

Snowstorm
02-01-2015, 10:32 PM
That's my feeling too - they just do shit because they can.

That's my feeling too. But that begs the question, if the Patriots are that good (and I do believe they are an incredible team), WHY do they try to cheat!? I can't help but wonder if the culture of that team is "win at all costs."

Gilroy Cullen
05-07-2015, 09:20 PM
So ... Deflategate (http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/patriots/2015/05/06/deflategate-bill-belichick-tom-brady-underinflated-balls-robert-kraft-new-england-colts/22216585/) has now finished its investigation...

Tom Brady culpuble. Any comments?

mirandashell
05-07-2015, 10:02 PM
Just what I expected. The big boys get away with it and the small fry get tossed in the fire.

But
An investigation into the so-called Deflategate scandal concluded it is more likely than not that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady "was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities" is a long way from saying he's culpable, IMO.

ElaineA
05-08-2015, 07:47 AM
Well, actually, it's pretty damning, the language. They have specific evidence standards in the NFL policies, and "more likely than not" means they've met the standard for a circumstantial case. It's about the best the investigator can do.

There is definitely an expectation of some punishment. After all Sean Payton got suspended a year and the league found he knew nothing about the "pay for hits" hullabaloo. It's going to be fascinating to see how the league deals with one of its poster boys.

Personally, I think it's a lot of fuss for not much. The only reason I really care is the history of Belichick putting his toe--well half his foot--over the line. Not that any punishment's gonna matter to him.