On the Patriot Fans, Deflategate and Cheating

First of all, I have absolutely no doubt that, had steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs existed during Babe Ruth’s career, Babe Ruth would not only have used them, he would have used more of them than Barry Bonds. I don’t understand how anyone can be confused about this. The central theme of Babe Ruth’s life, which is the fulcrum of virtually every anecdote and every event of his career, is that Babe Ruth firmly believed that the rules did not apply to Babe Ruth.
– via Bill James in Slate Magazine

It is no surprise that many (if not most) star athletes will do anything they can to get an edge. Tom Brady is clearly no different. It does not make him a bad person, but I find it absurd that many Patriot’s fans seem to be in complete denial about it.

When the story first broke, the narrative of the Pats fans was basically, “Tom didn’t know.” Well, now it is pretty clear he did. The narrative is now, “There’s no direct evidence,” and “Even if he did it, everyone else does.”

Is the evidence circumstantial? Yes, but people are convicted on circumstancial evidence in this country every day. In fact, Pats fans will use circumstantial evidence in support of their arguement. “Oh, yeah, of course you think Brady did it, you are a fill-in-the-name-of-your-team fan!” Is that circumstantial and perhaps evidence of bias? Yes. Does it mean Brady is innocent? No.

As for the “everyone else is doing it” defense — Well, it didn’t work with my Mom and it sure doesn’t work here. In fact the most damning evidence I have seen is this chart:

This is for five years worth of data. I am sorry, but there is no way that great coaching or even dismissal of all running backs that fumble twice can explain it.

 

My only point is this — Tom Brady and the Patriots purposefully deflated footballs to try to gain a competitive advantage. Period. Full stop.

  • Could other teams also be doing it? Yes.
  • Are other teams doing things to gain an advantage that are outside the rules? Yes.
  • Is it a dumb rule? Maybe.
  • Does the NFL share blame for not having a sensible process to enforce the rule? Yes.
  • Is the penalty excessive? I don’t know. Probably.

All these are obfuscations to the main point and the central question.

I am willing to on record in saying that assuming the NFL creates a process to enforce this rule beginning next season and the Patriots continue to hold onto the football at their already amazing rate, I will be convinced that I am wrong and will repent.

So, Pats fans, what will it be? Are you willing to repent if the Patriots fall back to pack and start fumbling at a rate of say less than 150 plays per fumble over the course of the next three to five seasons?

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