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Berginski: ‘Deflate-gate’? Oh, please

By Staff | Jan 23, 2015

Let me preface this week’s column by saying that I am not a fan of either the Seattle Seahawks or the New England Patriots, both of which are in the Super Bowl this year. The Baltimore Ravens took my team – the Pittsburgh Steelers – out of the playoffs, which means I can look upon the whole thing from a dispassionate outsider’s point of view.

Anyway, last week the Pats utterly destroyed the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game, 42-7. But what was the takeaway from that game? Well, it wasn’t that QB Tom Brady completed 23 of 35 passes and threw for 226 yards, three touchdowns and one interception while Colts QB Andrew Luck completed 12 of 33 passes and threw for 128 yards. It wasn’t that the Colts’ only score was on a 1-yard rushing touchdown from RB Zurlon Tipton, with kicker Adam Vinateri completing the PAT. It wasn’t that the Pats were 12 for 18 on third down conversions and 2 for 2 on fourth downs, while the Colts were 3 for 11 on third downs and nowhere on fourth. Oh no, ma’am or sir, the only thing people took away from the game is the question of whether or not the Patriots cheated again.

A little bit of background here. Apparently both teams are supposed to bring 12 footballs, which will be used at some point during the game. All the balls must be inflated to a minimum of 12.5 pounds per square inch, but no more than 13.5 PSI. A little bit of investigation at halftime found that 11 of the Patriots’ 12 game balls were 2 PSI less than standard. There have been calls that the Pats are cheaters, that they should be kicked out of the Super Bowl. But you know, I gotta be honest here, I don’t really see why this is a “-gate”-worthy issue, let alone an issue at all.

I get the whole “Spygate” deal, with the Patriots filming the New York Jets’ sideline signals. That’s the instance everyone brings up when asked why the Patriots are supposedly cheaters. But come on, you can’t tell me teams won’t try, or haven’t tried, to gain an edge over their opponents. It’s an insult to anyone’s intelligence.

Both teams were playing in Gillette Stadium, in Massachusetts, in January. Supposedly another instance of deflation occurred in November. You know what else happens in November and January? Cold weather. And do you know what happens to balls that are exposed to the cold? They deflate.

What makes it a bit more interesting is that officials barely even noticed, if at all. (I smell accusations of bribery coming.) However, an unnamed NFL official said in an article on Profootballtalk.com that the balls were good to go, they were at regulation amounts of air by the time they left the refs’ hands. Which leaves what, 30 minutes before halftime (not counting time-outs and official reviews) for the Pats to allegedly deflate 11 balls by 2 PSI? Who would have time to deflate them? Head coach Bill Belichek? The offensive and defensive coordinators? Is this starting to sound like a stretch, or even an attempt to grasp at straws?

Here’s another reason why I don’t see this as an issue: when one team brutally outscores another team, like completely overpowers them in every way, accusations of cheating will fly. Since basketball is the high school sport du jour right now, let me use this as an example: if Rugby were to kick No. 10-ranked Ellendale’s butt, 100-10, parents from Ellendale will say Rugby cheated. It’s par for the course.

“Deflate-gate”, as some people are calling it, is a distraction from the real picture: one team played well enough to get into the Super Bowl, and the other team didn’t, it’s just that simple.

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