bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: NFL wildly overreacts to “Deflate-gate.”

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Please make it stop! The self-righteous grandstanding by all of the haters of the New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady is making me crazy. If you don’t know what I am talking about, then you haven’t paid any attention at all to national news over the last couple of weeks. In the aftermath of “Deflate-gate,” about which I wrote back in January, the NFL has suspended Tom Brady for the first four games of this next football season, fined the New England Patriots a million dollars, and docked the team two future draft picks including its first round pick next year. How absolutely absurd.

To quickly recap, the Indianapolis Colts, who lost to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game back in January, accused the Patriots of using under-inflated footballs. Due to the events of “Spygate” back in 2007, where the Patriots were found to have videotaped the coaching signals from the New York Jets from an illegal vantage point, combined with the overall success of that organization since the combination of Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick came together back in 2001, people are very quick to find fault with anything these guys do. The NFL hired attorney Ted Wells to investigate the recent incident and write a report on his findings. Wells released his report on Wednesday, concluding that not only was the deflation an intentional act, but that Tom Brady was in on it.

Here’s the thing, though. If you read the report, there is no actual conclusive evidence that Brady was involved at all. Furthermore, he was not even able to definitely prove that the balls were intentionally deflated. Despite the lack of proof, Wells states what appear to be clear, decisive conclusions. This reminds me an awful lot of the infamous “Freeh Report” that was used to take down Penn State a few years ago. The fact that the NFL spent millions of dollars and had a 240+ page report written on this matter is really astonishing on its own. The Colts sent a message to the NFL before the AFC Championship game even happened, saying that they suspected that the Patriots used footballs that were below the required inflation levels. You know what the NFL did with that information? Absolutely nothing. They didn’t care. You know why? Because it doesn’t matter! Every team in the league messes with the footballs to get them from that shiny, new, hard to handle condition to a more pliable, weathered state that the quarterbacks prefer. Is there some great advantage to a ball having a pound or two less, as far as air goes? I seriously doubt it. After a Colts defender intercepted a pass in the first half of the game on January 18th, the team took the ball to game officials to check. At halftime, they checked all of the footballs being used by the Patriots. Initially, it was reported that eleven of the twelve balls were two pounds under the required psi level. Actually, only one ball was two pounds under, as it turns out. Regardless, the balls were re-inflated to required levels before the second half started. Oh, and by the way, the Pats blew out the Colts in that second half, and Brady’s passing statistics were considerably better than they had been in the first half.

Aside from a lack of advantage, the findings of the investigation were seriously lacking in actual validity. Instead, supposition was all over the place. The funny thing is that even if everything happened the way the league and Ted Wells said it did, I still ask: who cares? Clearly the league was unconcerned about the issue before this whole thing blew up. That’s because it’s a non-issue. The world was outraged at the thought that the Patriots were supposedly trying to bend the rules, and the NFL, flying by the seat of its pants as it always seems to do, decided to strike hard. Lawsuits are absolutely coming here, and this will not end well for the league. I am not sure why its okay to punish people based on public outrage rather than on actual evidence. This report, like the Freeh Report before it, makes me wonder if any investigation is ever actually valid. I, like most other people, usually just take the word of the news services when I hear about crimes and wrongdoings. I think that’s a mistake on my part.

Last night, Jimmy Fallon made a joke about the incident on his show and while funny, is also kind of sad because it’s absolutely true. He said:

It was announced yesterday that Tom Brady will be suspended for the season’s first four games for his alleged role in the deflate-gate scandal, though the NFL says his punishment could be reduced if he commits an actual crime.

Well said, Jimmy.

Bad sports, continued:

2) Steward Butler, a running back for Marshall University, attacked two gay men on a street in Huntington, West Virginia, on Wednesday according to local police. The complaint says that he screamed slurs at the men and punched them after he saw them kissing as he was driving by. Butler has been suspended from the team while the incident is being investigated.

3) LeSean McCoy, running back for the Buffalo Bills, is clearly having trouble getting over being traded away by the Philadelphia Eagles. For the second time since the recent trade, he has mouthed off about Chip Kelly, his former coach. This time, he called him a racist. I have no idea if Chip Kelly is a racist, and I have no reason to believe he is. I do know that McCoy’s rationale, which is that Kelly got rid of “all the good black players” is absurd. First, he is taking quite a swipe at a lot of good, black players who remain on the Eagles. I wonder what Jason Peters thinks about the whole thing. The other part is that Kelly replaced McCoy with…DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews, both of whom are black. None of this makes any sense, beyond it being clear that McCoy is immature and is unhappy about being exiled to Buffalo.

Good sports:

1) Minnesota Twins outfield prospect Eddie Rosario was called up to the big league club last week. He got his first at-bat on Wednesday and sent the first pitch he saw into the bleachers in left field. Not bad.

2) One day before Rosario’s feat, Carlos Perez made his debut for the Los Angeles Angels. While his first at-bat was not quite as successful as Rosario’s (he singled), he finished the night by hitting a walk-off homerun to win the game for the Angels in the bottom of the ninth.

3) There is nothing quite like watching a giant athlete fall down. Shaquille O’Neal did exactly that on the set of a TNT basketball halftime show last week on his way to the video board. Check it out.

4) A bicycle kick is a fun thing to watch in soccer. These high school kids pulled off bicycle kicks on consecutive touches, with the second one ending up in the goal. Awesome.

5) The Pittsburgh Pirates pulled off a wacky-looking triple play on Saturday that included some very poor baserunning by the St. Louis Cardinals.

6) A high school track and field star from New Jersey was robbed of her medal for the 100-meter hurdles due to a glitchy timer last week, despite the fact that the runners did not ease up before the finish. The race was re-run after a thirty minute rest period, but winner Rachel Panek was unable to rest as she was entered in other events. She fared poorly in the second attempt, which was clearly due to fatigue. Seeing her distress, Saquon Barkley, a Penn State football commit who is running track for the first time this year, gave his medal from the boys 100 meter race to Panek, who had held the blocks for him during his race. Nice kid.

Bad sports, good sports appears each week

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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