Thursday, May 07, 2015

DeflateGate report probably made us generally aware of what was already suspected

The DeflateGate investigation is over. Ted Wells has concluded that the Patriots probably broke the rules and intentionally deflated footballs. And that Tom Brady was probably generally aware that this was going on. The report has more "probables" than a weekly NFL injury report.

Could you imagine if the most important lines in literature and cinema were phrased so inconclusively? What if the Gospels meekly proclaimed "And on the third day, Jesus probably rose, and we're generally aware that one day he will come again." What if Shakespeare's Hamlet asked "To probably be, or not to be? I'm generally aware that this is the question." How about classic lines in Star Wars and Terminator 2? "Luke, I'm probably your father." "I'm generally aware that I'll be back."

And aren't Ted Wells' conclusions things that we pretty much knew already? What new information has this investigation uncovered?

Didn't the 2 weeks of non-stop media coverage of DeflateGate take place under the presumption that the Patriots were probably guilty? From the initial leak of the story, to the Colts' suspicions earlier in the season, to the surveillance footage of a ballboy going into a bathroom with the footballs, the general consensus was that the Patriots were PROBABLY guilty. So by including qualifying words like "probably" and "generally aware," Ted Wells' investigation has only put into writing what most people had already assumed months ago: The Patriots are probably guilty, the quarterback was probably generally aware of it.

So what did the investigation unearth? Did it prove that employees deliberately deflated footballs? Did it prove that Tom Brady instructed them to do so? The report's conclusion only argues that Brady was "generally aware" that this was probably happening. What does that mean exactly?

I don't know why Patriots haters are thumping their chests about such an inconclusive conclusion. The haters long ago concluded that the Patriots were guilty. Most of them also thought it was a Belichick initiated conspiracy, and this report actually exonerates Belichick (in stronger language than it indicts Brady, weirdly). This report gives the haters a pile of inconclusive paper to use as ammunition in their never-ending and futile war against the Patriots. And I'm glad for that. The haters make winning fun.

I also don't know why Patriots fans can't face the fact that there's more than a little smoke here. Although speaking of smoke, the scientific evidence in the Wells report comes from a company that once claimed second hand smoke didn't cause cancer. I'm not sure how reputable their science is. I also don't know why Patriots fans should care.

As a football fan I've seen players busted for PEDs, I've seen teams violate the salary cap, I've seen players paid under the table, I've seen players tampered with, I've seen teams pipe noise into stadiums, I've seen falsified injury reports, I once saw a trainer trip an opponent, I once saw a head coach obstruct a kick return. I'm not morally justifying cheating, just pointing out that if non-Patriots fans thinks the Patriots are the only rule violators in the League, they need to grow up. And if Patriots fans think their team has any moral superiority to others, they too need to grow up.