Chris Moore| BKD TV Insiders
The New England Patriots beat the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday to win their sixth AFC Championship under head coach Bill Belichick. Then controversy struck on Monday about whether New England’s balls were inflated to the minimum level required by the NFL. The balls were confiscated at halftime due the feeling that they were possibly under inflated. On Monday, they found out the balls were under inflated by up to two pounds per square inch (PSI). The debate has begun since the report, who was behind the balls being under inflated? Did the balls being under inflated really make a difference? Lastly, what should the ultimate punishment be?
Let’s start with, did it affect the outcome of the game? In a word: no. However, that is not the main point to this conversation. Let’s play “what if ?” What if the Patriots came out in the second half and barely hung on to what ends up being a 20-17 win for them? The Colts outscore the Patriots 10-3 in the second half, with both teams using balls under regulation, but just come up short of winning the game. If that were the case, a legitimate case could be made that the New England Patriots stole a birth in the Super Bowl from the Indianapolis Colts. Now some would say, but the Patriots blew them out in the second half so it’s irrelevant. Well you could say that’s true, but the fact remains that the Patriots went into the AFC Championship with the intent to get an unfair and illegal advantage that could’ve altered the outcome of the game. At the end of the day, it obviously did not affect the outcome and the better team won the AFC Championship and is playing the Super Bowl.
Now the question is, who is responsible? Bill Belichick and Tom Brady both had press conferences and both denied having involvement in the balls being under inflated. Someone is lying and among many former and current NFL players believe the, “Golden Boy,” Tom Brady is the one not telling us the truth. Mark Brunell said after the Brady press conference yesterday that he flat out did not believe what he had to say. Matt Hasselbeck, a backup quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, said on Twitter, “HC would never have any knowledge…nor would any other coach. all QB and equipment staff.” So it is believable to think that Bill Belichick did not know and did not really care about the inflation of the balls. However, Mr. Brady would be completely involved in the process to get the footballs ready. To think that some ball boy went on his own to take air out of the footballs in asinine. It is pretty apparent that Brady lied to the media in his press conference. He just did not appear to be himself behind the podium. He seemed uneasy and ready to get off the stage and away from the pressing questions. The punishment? Well we’ll see what comes of that. Who knows what the NFL will do with the player conduct policy and with their previous history, what will happen is very unclear.
In the end, it is unfortunate this is taking away from what could be an outstanding Super Bowl. The punishment, if any at all will come into effect next season. I have heard anything from a full season suspension to a four game suspension. We will see who ends up taking the fall for the footballs. If it is Belichick, considering this would be his second offense of cheating, it could be a very substantial punishment. Don’t rule out the possibility of a ball boy being paid to take the blame and simply losing his job. Whatever happens, what the Patriots did was wrong.