January 23, 2015


Deflategate's ridiculous, empty moralizing (Jon Terbush, January 23, 2015, The Week)

This is about as weak as sports scandals get. All teams, all quarterbacks, doctor footballs to their liking. Eli Manning's game balls take months to scuff up just right. Aaron Rodgers inflates his as much as possible. Brad Johnson, who led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl title in 2002, claimed he paid a couple of guys $7,500 to secretly scuff up the footballs used in the championship game.

Like doctoring baseballs, the practice of tinkering with pigskins is widespread and commonly accepted as just something everyone does. The only rule: Don't get caught.

Which is why it's so maddening, though unsurprising, that Deflategate has been overblown into a morality play. (Patriots bad; football good.) This includes everything from the pompous self-flagellation of the diehard Boston sports fan, to the hollow whining of the local beat reporter. A representative example:

For all the Patriots playoff games this year, my sons and I have all donned our No. 12 Tom Brady jerseys. We wore them because Brady is so darn good, so darn handsome and so full of the values of hard work and perseverance that you want your sports icons to embody. Or so we thought. Did he have any knowledge or any involvement in deflating footballs? Oh God, I hope not. [CNN]

Not the children! Won't somebody please think of the children? How can you explain to them that Touchdown Tommy is not an infallible hero "full of values," but rather an actual human being? Never mind that he ditched his pregnant ex for a super model, or that he's an unrepentant shill for Uggs. How do you explain that he may have -- gasp! -- bent an unwritten rule to his advantage during a game?

All the pearl-clutching is even more galling when you consider we're talking about the NFL here. This is a sport where dudes ravage their brains and bodies in between Bud Light commercials, all for a league that is comically indifferent to violence both on and off the field. Deflating a few footballs is hardly on the same moral plane as, say, domestic abuse and a front office coverup of it.

It's not like there are no weightier ethical dilemmas surrounding the NFL right now either. Days before the Deflategate game, Colts linebacker Josh McNary was charged with rape. Hours before the game, in the NFC Championship, the Seahawks appeared to skimp on the league-mandated concussion protocol after a violent hit to QB Russell Wilson. In a more general sense, if this really is about ethics in gaming and not just an excuse for blowhards to engage in some hollow posturing, how about addressing the fact that the Seahawks lead the NFL in PED suspensions -- you know, actual cheating.

The guy who should be outraged is Randy Moss.  No wonder Brady can't complete a pass over ten yards past the line of scrimmage, he's throwing frisbees.

Posted by at January 23, 2015 11:18 AM

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