Deflate-Gate Threathens To Overshadow Super Bowl XLIX (Video)


Much to the NFL’s dismay, the so-called Deflate-gate scandal has been has completely taken over the sports news cycle leading up to the Super Bowl XLIX.   The game and events leading up to it are supposed to be a celebration of the nation’s most popular sport.  But the celebration has turned into an inquisition as questions swirl about the New England Patriots and their integrity after their second cheating scandal in less than 10 years.

In an attempt to quell some of suspicion surrounding his team, Patriots head coach Bill Belichik held a press conference Thursday morning to discuss Deflate-gate.  The normally tight-lipped Belichik, led off the presser with an 8 minute statement in which he denied any knowledge or involvement in the scandal saying only that he had “no explanation for what happened.”

Belichik’s statement involved a detailed explanation on how they the team handles their footballs during practice explaining that he “makes the footballs as bad as they can be.”  “We make get them wet, muddy, sticky…and if they players complain about them I make them worse”.  Belichik went on to explain that he like to make practice conditions harder than “anything they might experience in a game.”

As far as management of the footballs during a game, Belichik explained they play the game with “what they are given” after the officials approve the footballs for use in the game. He also said that any questions about the quarterbacks preferred condition for the ball or the investigation would have to be directed to Tom Brady or the NFL.

After exhausting all efforts to get answers about the investigation, the press corps then turned to questioning Bill Belichik about his integrity.  He responded to each question by simply saying “I have told you everything I know.”

Looking at the scandal realistically one could assume this isn’t the first time the Patriots or any other NFL team has used under-inflated balls during a game.

So why is the media making such a big fuss?

What makes this different is the team and timing involved.  The Patriots and Bill Belichik have been implicated in cheating before during the Spy-Gate Scandal in 2007 when the team was found to be videotaping opponent closed practices in order to steal signals.

The other major factor is timing.  Super Bowl week aside, Deflate-gate comes during a season in which the NFL has dealt with multiple scandals that also questioned the leagues ability to fairly and responsibly manage its affairs.

The mishandling of the Ray Rice domestic assault and Adrian Peterson’s child abuse case called into question the arbitrary methods used to determine and apply punishment for serious offenses off the field. Then in the playoffs, two controversial calls helped fuel the fire of suspension among fans.

The scandals both on and off the field in such a short period of time portray the NFL as a orgnaiztion that lacks control and completely unaware.

The NFL has yet to officially comment on the results of their investigation into deflate-gate other than confirming that the balls were found to be deflated at half-time of the AFC Championship. Now the scandal threatens to completely overshadow the Super Bowl.

In order for the media frenzy subside before Super Bowl week, the NFL must wrap up their investigation and make the result public as soon as possible.  If allowed to linger the scandal could not only affect the integrity of the Championship game but also the integrity of the NFL brand.

If not handled properly football could experience a PR nightmare on a level similar to baseballs Steroid Era, a scandal baseball still struggles with nearly 20 years later.

The NFL and its players have been labeled many things but never have been labeled cheaters. The league must avoid that label at all costs or risk permanent damage to the brand.