WHAT DIFFERENCE AT THIS POINT DOES IT MAKE THAT THE PATRIOTS CHEATED

A brief message on Tom Brady and his under-inflated footballs.

It now appears more probable than not, that Mr. Brady’s preferences regarding the firmness of the football were well known within the New England Patriots’ organization. It is well known that Mr. Brady is an intelligent and articulate man and that his preparation for football games is meticulous. It is well known to anyone who plays any sport that differences in equipment can have a major effect upon the performance of the players – if that were not true, why would the NFL set strict rules for equipment, including the inflation of the ball?

It has become obvious that Mr. Brady, like the Godfather, is surrounded by a lot of “buffers” and that he need not bother himself with issuing direct orders to anyone in order for his wishes to be known and honored. Picture a casual encounter in the locker room, in which Mr. Brady mentions to one of his buffers that what he really loves in a football is a pressure of so many PSIs. Buffer A later relays the message to Buffer B, etc.   No one says a word to the team’s revered – and insulated – owner, no one says a word to Head Coach Belichick. Everyone has plausible deniability. Brady throws for many yards and many touchdowns.

Confronted with these facts, millions of commentators and fans have provided the classic contemporary responses to cheating: (i) Who cares? – The Patriots won the “Deflategate” game (the 2014 AFC Championship game) 45 – 7, showing they were so superior that they would have won decisively even had the footballs been completely detumescent ; and (ii) In the immortal words of our erstwhile Secretary of State, “What difference at this point does it make?” Much of the analysis mentions the financial enormity of the pro football enterprise, the high profile of Mr. Brady and his team, football’s recent troubles with off-the-field misconduct by many players, possible declines in the sport’s popularity because it is so dangerous to play, etc.   People comment on the fact that so many people comment.

Here is a comment I have yet to hear from anyone: Mr. Brady and the Patriots cheated, and that is wrong. They knowingly and intentionally violated a rule of the game and concealed and denied their misconduct, and that is wrong. The effect on the outcomes of the games is not relevant. The time it took for the cheating to be discovered and demonstrated is not relevant. The popularity of the participants is not relevant. Does it make a difference at this point that Brady and the Patriots cheated? You bet – a huge difference. Everyone loses: Brady, the Patriots, the National Football League, football and sports in general, and the country and our culture. We are all diminished.

 

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