In this Jan. 18, 2015, file photo, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady looks to pass during the first half of the NFL football AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)
Even Tom Brady was at a loss for words when asked about the New England Patriots’ most recent scandal. Sports headlines have been filled with “Deflategate” lately, marring Brady, Patriots coach Bill Belichick and New England’s Super Bowl XLIX title. The penalty for both Brady and the Patriots will be steep, but wiping out their title-winning 2014 season more than likely won’t happen. But should it? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate the question.
Green: I’m tired of seeing and hearing about the Patriots repeatedly and blatantly coming up with ways to beat systems and sneak advantages. It seems like every time they win a championship a report comes out months later of how they manipulated the system rules to the fullest payoff. Stripping New England of their most recent Super Bowl may be taking it too far, but some punishment should follow the announcement that it’s highly probable that Brady cheated. I say Brady should be suspended a minimum of six games. Sure, deflating balls may not be as big of a deal in terms of affecting the fairness of an actual football game. But Brady is guilty of a much larger offense: He got in front of cameras and lied to us with a straight face about cheating. That’s far worse than cheating itself, and he should sit six games for it.
Riley: The game at the heart of “Deflategate” was a 45-7 drubbing of the Indianapolis Colts, so if the Patriots were seeking an “advantage,” to be honest, they really didn’t need one. Playing with underinflated or overinflated footballs only seems like it would matter to those doing the judging and criticizing and not the playing. When asked about the controversy earlier this year, Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson told reporters: “I wouldn’t know how that could even be an advantage or a disadvantage. I definitely wouldn’t be able to tell if one ball had less pressure than another.”
The mere notion of stripping away New England’s Super Bowl win over flattened footballs seems as silly as it sounds. The Patriots beat the Colts in that game soundly, and used some bad play to capture a trophy. They earned their win.
Green: I agree, I don’t think the team should forfeit the Super Bowl title. The official investigation report done on this scandal mentioned that Patriots owner Bob Craft and head coach Bill Belichick had no involvement in the deflating of footballs. All evidence, circumstantial or not, points directly to Brady and two members of the equipment management crew. They should be the only people punished. Brady cheated, then lied about it. Now he won’t even speak on the investigation report, probably out of fear of further incriminating himself. All the man had to do was be truthful, say he deflated the balls because he likes them softer and that he thought it was no big deal. But no, instead he chooses to keep the lie going. I’d love to see Brady testify before a grand jury on this matter. Let’s see if he’s willing to risk his freedom to keep this lie alive.
Riley: There is going to be a lot of backlash behind this whole ordeal, but it’s going to take more than this for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to take away a Super Bowl title, and will probably take more of an offense to suspend Brady, the longtime face of the NFL. This wasn’t a points shaving issue or under-the-counter betting; we’re talking about underinflated footballs. Yes, it’s a crime nonetheless, but a crime that in all actuality is quite petty in the grand scheme of things. For a Colts defender to acknowledge that even he doesn’t see what advantage the Patriots would have is very telling. The Patriots are one of the smartest football clubs in the league, if not the smartest. They know where to stop before the line is crossed. What they did might make football fans roll their eyes but at the end of the day that shouldn’t jeopardize their title.