Whether you’re a rabid or casual sports fan, chances are you will be watching the Super Bowl, and unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know all about the controversy leading up to it. Yes, #DeflateGate, the latest hashtag hullabaloo from which you cannot escape.
It’s the top story on every major news channel. It’s being lampooned on SNL. It’s in White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest’s talking points. And it’s completely meaningless.
A media-fueled nontroversy, concocted from a mix of national Patriots-hatred and desire to inject storylines into Super Bowl Sunday. Alleging that there’s some kind of New England conspiracy in which the team purposely under-inflated footballs that led to a 45-7 shellacking of the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game is not only paranoid—it’s outright ridiculous.
And possibly most demonstrative of this overblown outrage (there are far too many puns connected with this story), consider Phil Simms reporting that Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers once told him he likes to “push the limit of how much air [the Packers] can put in the football, even go over what they allow you to do and see if the refs take air out of it.”
Bottom-line: this appears to be gamesmanship that all franchises engage in to attempt to gain an edge. Against equipment regulations? Yes. Worthy of punishment? Yes—but the Patriots should not be condemned as outright cheaters when it appears this behavior occurs throughout the NFL. Unfortunately the Pats do not receive the benefit of the doubt, given their cheating history, but for the media and court of public opinion to crucify Belichick and Brady is pretty ludicrous.
An under-inflated football is not points-shaving or throwing a fight. It’s the NFL equivalent of infielders purposely scuffing a baseball during warmups prior to handing tossing it to their pitcher (something widely admitted to in baseball.) It’s a non-issue—yet the media will not let you believe it to be so. They needed a villain.
Villains create “good guys,” and the Seattle Seahawks are now a team full of Captain Americas. #DeflateGate has provided all of the salacious detail and intrigue to separate the northeast from the rest of the country, and as a result, created a swath of fair-weather Seahawks fanatics. When the next seemingly innocuous controversy bubbles to the surface, it’s important to remember that drama will always drive ratings.