Yes that title was specifically constructed with my recent Friday scam-investigating articles in mind. Sorry, but I hope you'll forgive me when we get to the learning section.
When I started this website in May of 2006, I wrote:
"You can expect Lazy Man and Money to be about 85% money, 5% technology (hey, I'm a software guy), 2% health, 5% random soapboxing, and 3% "zany"-ness. Maybe we'll up that zany as time goes on."
I'm going to cash in my random soapboxing and zaniness credits with this article. I hope to do it in a way that is educational and fosters critical thinking. From a money perspective, you can't put a price on that. I'd also argue that it is more important than how much air is in a football
I should start with the fact that I grew up in the Boston suburbs and am a Patriots fan to the level that many friends suggested that I name my child Grogan. With that disclosure out in the open, let me say that logic is always my guiding force... that is the closest I can come when people scream, "He's biased!" There is nothing else for me to offer other than asking you to objectively look at the information yourself.
So let's dig in...
What do we know?
We know that there was a complaint about air pressure in the footballs that the Patriots used last week. We know that the NFL is investigating it. We know that they were re-inflated at half time
Is there a competitive advantage to using under-inflated footballs?
That is a smart question to ask, because if there is no advantage it is much ado about nothing.
ESPN's Sport Science is the only resource I know of covering the topic from a scientific point of view. Their analysis (in my opinion) seems to conclude it is a disadvantage as the ball travels slower through the air potentially allowing a defender to get an extra inch in their reach to knock the ball down. Sports are often a game of inches so it shouldn't be discounted.
The video also stresses the point that ball inflation, like everything about the ball, is a matter of personal preference of the quarterbacks.
Is this another of "Beli-cheat's" schemes?
Friends of mine emailed me early on to say that they hope the NFL lays the hammer down hard on the Patriots. Much of America seems to agree from the polls I've seen.
It's interesting to me that most of the discussion initially jumped on Bill Belichick. Some reputable journalists who have covered the Patriots for years (Tom Curran, I'm looking at you), jumped to the conclusion that the Patriots should fire Bill Belichick. (At least that's what I read from multiple sources. I can't find the primary source anymore. Maybe it has been retracted).
Later in the week, former quarterbacks and coaches pointed out that the coach is never involved in the ball preparation routine. Belichick had a press conference that he didn't know anything. Suddenly, people turned their attention to the quarterback, Tom Brady.
It's a good thing we didn't rush to fire Belichick.
What we Learned From Tom Brady's Conference
Everyone expected Tom Brady to fall on the sword... except that it didn't happen. The most telling thing to me that he said that the NFL didn't contact him as part of the investigation. This tells me either one of two things is true:
1. The NFL doesn't think Brady is a prime suspect.
2. Tom Brady told an obvious and easily provable lie and the NFL should immediate call him out on it saying, "Ummm, we talked to Brady on Tuesday. Tom lied in the conference."
When the NFL released its statement, they didn't say #2 happened, so logically I'm going to assume #1 until the NFL tells us otherwise.
Why Is DeflateGate Such a Huge Story?
This is the most puzzling thing for me. Most people say that whether it is an advantage isn't the big deal. The big deal is that it appears that the Patriots might have cheated.
I'm not condoning cheating, but let's treat all teams and players fairly. Many players on the Carolina Panthers used steroids in their 2004 Super Bowl season. We saw first-hand the difference that can make on a baseball field. So there's obvious cheating and a clear advantage, but story headline major news networks.
When Aaron Rodgers tells Phil Simmms that he likes an overflated ball and that the officials may help with it we ignore the he's confessed to cheating and conspiring with officials.
I didn't see the Browns texting scandal make every network.
The Vikings and Panthers were caught red-handed cheating by warming balls on the sidelines earlier this year.
This is the equivalent of giving someone life in prison for going 66 mph in a 65 zone and turning a blind eye to others going 80 mph. I don't see how you can selectively pass judgment and blow it to extreme levels.
What we can learn from this...
Many people didn't like the Tom Brady conference. They didn't get what they wanted and what they were expecting. However if you take a step back, Brady said three things that I thought were pretty smart:
1. Don't deal other people's belief systems
2. Control what you can control
3. Focus on the future
I think #1 was the biggest thing. People are going to believe what they want. You can give them information, but that's it.
I wish I had some kind of great conclusion, but other than asking for people to be logical and rational, I've got nothing.
I've learned that "zaniness" is a word due to Firefox's spell checker. Nearly ten years after starting this blog, I can always point to that as something I've learned, right?
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