The game of “How Outraged Can I Be At The NFL?” has reached an all-time high. It’s traveled so high into the stratosphere that a founding member of ESPN The Magazine suggested on Friday that “the Patriots should be benched for Super Bowl XLIX.”
The absurdity of any moment in today’s “react first then reflect later” environment is only topped by the absurd reactions of the paid experts who report on them.
Roxanne Jones, the author of this insane suggestion, is not alone in her blood thirst. NFL Hall of Famer and Cowboys Ring Of Honor inductee Troy Aikman publicly condemned Tom Brady the morning after a Chris Mortensen report revealed that 11 of the 12 footballs used by the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game were under-inflated by 2 pounds per square inch.
Such a tremendous reduction in air pressure should be noticeable to anyone who has handled a football in the NFL, so Aikman, Mark Brunell, and several other experts believe to be true.
Then there’s Amani Toomer, who when holding a 10 PSI football compared to a 13 PSI football said, “It’s (the difference in air pressure) not noticeable.” Dan Marino proclaimed belief in Brady’s innocence, and a doubt that he would have paid any attention to the firmness of a pigskin, or lack there of.
So which pro player is more believable than the other? That’s all that this outrage comes down to.
It’s not about what is known, but what is believed.
It is known that the New England Patriots played the 1st half of the AFC Championship Game with footballs that were under-inflated. No ifs, ands, or buts.
However Miss Jones, Mr. Aikman, and a host of other indignant folks believe that it is enough evidence to alter the legitimacy of the NFL’s crown jewel. The bath water is so sour, that the baby that is the 20 weeks leading up to the Super Bowl must be tossed out.
Let’s dance then.
Indy please board your plane to Arizona.
The Colts lost by 38 points, though, so wouldn’t it make more sense to advance the team that played the Pats to the closest finish in the playoffs?
Baltimore, you are the logical choice to represent the AFC next Sunday. Or are you?
Indianapolis believed that New England used sub-inflated footballs back in week 11. Wouldn’t that suggest that every Pats game from that moment on should be forfeited?
At 7-9, the Patriots wouldn’t even be eligible for the playoffs. The Dolphins would win the East, so reseed the whole damn thing. That includes the NFC playoffs, because the Lions would be NFC North champs with a bye week and hosting a home game instead of traveling to Dallas in the Wild Card Round.
The sanctity of sport requires us to take every precaution necessary.
Even with the simplest proposal of suspending Belichick, Brady, or both for the Super Bowl, how could anyone sanely suggest that a Seattle victory would be seen as free from bias?
That’s assuming that proof surfaces that either of those gentlemen had a hand in Deflate-Gate.
Imagine the genuine outrage that would come if a 6-month investigation proved that the missing PSI was an accident. An act of God that no one could account for. How cheap would Super Bowl XLIX be then?
The proper play for Roger Goodell and the NFL is to allow the investigation to play out. If it is found that the Patriots organization intentionally broke the rules, then punish them in due time and with a penalty that is appropriate according to the known facts. (As of this afternoon, the Patriots have now set their cross-hairs on a member of their locker room staff as the guilty party.)
Sadly for some, that means that we will see a fully intact Pats roster and coaching staff on the field of University Of Phoenix Stadium a week from now.
That’s okay though.
At least it gives you someone to root against, but be honest. You hated the Patriots long before nearly a dozen footballs lost some air.
Dustin Copening is a Sports Contributor at The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @SNUtilityMan.