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Champs and Cheaters

I meant to post about last Sunday's football games on Monday morning, but I was too (a) busy, and (b) wrung out.

The NFC Championship contest will go down as one of the greatest, and strangest, games in the history of professional football.  It was either one of the greatest comebacks of all time, or one of the most spectacular collapses.  Maybe both.

Now, I am a fan of the Jets and Giants.  I hate and despise the Patriots and Cowboys, and I have a milder antipathy toward the Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, and Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Peoples (thank you, TMQ).  Toward the Packers and Seahawks I have no particular feelings.  When they are playing a team I like, I root against them.  When they are playing a team I hate, I root for them.  When they are playing each other... well, I just want a good exciting game.  The NFC Championship wasn't an especially good game -- too many turnovers -- but they don't get much more exciting.  If I was a real true Seahawks fan, that improbable win might have made my heart explode.  If I was a real true Packer fan, I'd have slit my wrists.  I don't know how you get over that.  There was no way the Packers could lose that game, just no way.  But they managed.  Incredible.  I still hardly believe it.  "This can't be happening," I said several times, as it happened.  What's to say that a thousand sportswriters haven't already said?

Wow.  Just wow.

As for the AFC Championship... what a snoozefest.  I said last week that I didn't think the Colts could offer the Patriots much of a contest.  And they didn't.

But the aftermath is proving much more intriguing than the game itself.  What do you know?  It turns out Evil Little Bill and his Patriots were cheating.  Again.  The New England Deflatriots.

When the news first broke that the Patriots had illegally deflated their footballs, I shrugged it off, like most of the country.  Probably nothing to it, I figured.  They were so much the better team and they crushed the Colts so completely, why would they need to fiddle with the balls?  But with every passing day, this begins to look more serious.  Now the NFL is reporting that 11 of the 12 Patriot balls were under-inflated, so it definitely looks deliberate.  Was Evil Little Bill involved?  Was Tom Brady?  (Brady had to have known.  The Colt defensive back who intercepted a Brady pass knew at once, the moment he caught the ball, and Brady handles the ball on every offensive play).  What will the NFL do?

Much as I like to root against them, I would never deny that the Patriots have been a great team under Kraft and Belichick.  They have one of the greatest QBs in the history of the game, they have one of the greatest defensive coaches of all time, they draft well, they manage free agency and the salary cap well, they win and win and win.  In light of all that, you really have to wonder why they feel the need to cheat.  "Deflategate" marks the second time they have been caught at it, Spygate being the first.  Which has to make one wonder -- how many times have they gotten away with stuff without being caught?  Even when the Patriots aren't crossing the lines, they are dancing right along the edge, as with the "substitution trick" they played against the Ravens.    Everyone in the NFL wants to win, sure... but win within the rules, please.  This seeming need to win at all costs, even if it means cheating, seems almost pathological.  And I don't believe for a moment that Evil Little Bill knew nothing.

I hope that the league comes down on New England like a ton of bricks.

And as for the Superbowl....

GO SEAHAWKS!

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( 54 comments )
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gonzo21
Jan. 21st, 2015 07:18 pm (UTC)
I don't know the rules at all, but is there not a good case that the game should be replayed? With properly inflated balls this time?
grrm
Jan. 21st, 2015 07:19 pm (UTC)
The Colts are suggested that, but it will never happen.
(no subject) - gonzo21 - Jan. 21st, 2015 07:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - Krystal Crouch - Jan. 21st, 2015 08:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
Forfeit - jim_harrison_1 - Jan. 22nd, 2015 01:52 am (UTC) - Expand
LaceUpBearDown
Jan. 21st, 2015 07:20 pm (UTC)
Packers-Seahawks
As someone who also has teams he roots against, I have to say that Seahawks-Packers game had me go from down ("Packers are in the Superbowl") to up ("They got the onside kick! Two-point conversion?! Seahawks TD in overtime?!) about as much as any game I've seen. Maybe now those Packers fans see what it's like to have your season torn away at the last minute, ala Packers-Bears '13.

And of course I love the Seahawks for keeping Halas trophy out of the evil clutches of the Packers, so I second your motion of Go Seahawks!

What can I say? When your team's out of it, you have nothing else to root for.
andrewsmluke
Jan. 21st, 2015 07:21 pm (UTC)
Couldn't agree with you more
Sadly, the NFL's idea of sanctions against the Cheatriots have always been a slap on the wrist. I imagine that if the Cheatriots manage to win the Super Bowl, the league will punish them by forcing them to give up their first round draft pick in exchange for the first pick of the second round.
badpark
Jan. 21st, 2015 08:25 pm (UTC)
Re: Couldn't agree with you more
If it is determined that the Patriots did intentionally deflate the balls after pre-game and/or halftime inspection, my hope, as a Patriots fan, is that in addition to lost draft picks and fines, Belichick is suspended for at least part of the 2015 season.

I think one of the biggest reasons many fans hate the Patriots is because we never really got closure on Spygate. Even though the tapes were played for the media (something that is often forgotten), and Jay Glazer (originally a Giants beat reporter), who claims to have a copy of all the tapes, has reported that the likely reason the tapes were destroyed is because they were actually primarily unsavory shots of cheerleaders, the public was left in the dark. Yes, the Patriots were fined heavily and lost their first round pick in 2008, but without the closure, none of us can move on.
(Deleted comment)
LouisTeunissen
Jan. 21st, 2015 07:26 pm (UTC)
Seahawks
Being from the Netherlands Football (or as we call it: American Football) is not a great game here. But I kinda got hooked this season, watching game after game for the first time.
No game comes closer to classical warfare than football. Hannibal would have been a football-coach in this day and age.
LOVED the Seahawks-game; I was shouting in the middle of the night (European time) waking my kids up (sorry children).
I have the morning off on the 2nd of feb so I can watch the SB for the first time.
Erik Bergman
Jan. 22nd, 2015 03:25 am (UTC)
Re: Seahawks
Hope we got you hooked on the Seahawks. Consider visiting for a game sometime. You could catch our college team the day before if you time it right. The games are just as big. Actually, they were bigger until very recently. :)
xatizol
Jan. 21st, 2015 07:29 pm (UTC)
Preferred Terminology
As a Patriots fan, I'd like to go on record as saying we do not enjoy the term "Deflategate." My preferred nomenclature is "Ballghazi." Thank you, George.
movingfinger
Jan. 21st, 2015 07:30 pm (UTC)
I'm a very casual sports fan, and a Pats-region native---you know how you inherit sports fandom without consciously choosing it. I'm always a little bit cheered up and proud when a team from my region does well.

And I'm horrified and a little ashamed when they do wrong. And this isn't just wrong, it's stupid-wrong: did they really think none of the opposing team's players would notice? Or was the reasoning, if all the balls were a little underinflated, it would be put down to cold weather or something, the way your tires can need more air in winter? I can't even imagine the thinking behind this.

Such a lack of sportsmanship and such a shabby cheat are sickening to see. It tarnishes the whole sport, and it insults all the earnest fans who've cheered for the team for so long. I hope the consequences are serious and long-lasting.
SirMichaelll
Jan. 21st, 2015 09:14 pm (UTC)
The teams use separate balls, each team brings 12 and the team on offense always use their own. So the only time the other team would have a chance to notice is during an interception or fumble, maybe only a couple times in the whole game. I guess they were just assuming that the Colts wouldn't notice the balls being a little under inflated when they did get their hands on them.
celestlyn
Jan. 21st, 2015 07:36 pm (UTC)

The AFC championship game truly was a bizarre one. I don't understand the Pat's need to cheat. They had the Colts outclassed anyway, and would have won regardless.

NFC - As a die-hard Seahawks fan, I was on a giddy, euphoric high for two days straight! We should not have won that game. And yet we did! After the first quarter when Russell Wilson had thrown three interceptions and/or fumbles I was ready to give up. He is normally such a consistent, excellent player. He played like he truly did have a head injury. He really picked a lousy time to have a bad day. I would like to say that the Hawks actually won the game in spite of him, but that fake field goal, followed by a pass into the end-zone was pure genius. And their ability to put it all out there and take the needed risks to pull off that most improbably win was just magic.

So after a game with the lowest of lows followed by the highest of highs, my blood pressure is finally returning to normal. Best second half ever! Superbowl is gonna be a great game.
bighdog
Jan. 21st, 2015 07:42 pm (UTC)
Football/ASOIAF
Hey George I was wondering if you could answer this question what noble house in ASOIAF do you consider the Philadelphia Eagles?

Thanks!
metsy73
Jan. 21st, 2015 07:49 pm (UTC)
Cheaters Cheat
Why did the clearly superior Patriots cheat? Because cheaters cheat. It is their nature to cheat. Even when they can win playing it straight they will still cheat if they think they can get away with it. The only thing that will stop them is a truly Draconian sanction. (Forfeit the game to the Colts) As long as the sanctions are money and draft picks, Belichik will do his cost-benefit analysis and cheat again.

Just win, Baby!!!

Also, if your a Patriot fan who is taking the position that the cheating doesn't matter because the Patriots were going to win anyway, you should be ashamed of yourself. If you shoot a man on his death bed, it's still murder.
rojoca_dev
Jan. 21st, 2015 07:51 pm (UTC)
I don't get it - can the referees not tell when they spot the ball that it is under-inflated?

Best punishment for the pats would be to lose the super bowl via an onside kick and a hail mary 2 point conversion (sorry packers fans).
Erik Bergman
Jan. 22nd, 2015 03:36 am (UTC)
Just assume someone is making a sports film in another universe. This was the come from behind win against the respected opponent, now they have to face the Evil Team.
(no subject) - a_pawson - Jan. 22nd, 2015 10:11 am (UTC) - Expand
TGolden27
Jan. 21st, 2015 07:52 pm (UTC)
The Patriots haven't won a thing since they stopped cheating, so it doesn't surprise me that they're up to it again. My Eagles should have won that game a decade ago. Since then I've had to root for the Giants TWICE in the Super Bowl so I would still be able to say that. It almost killed me to root for the Giants... I found it was much easier the second time around though, which worried me.
kem_viva
Jan. 21st, 2015 08:45 pm (UTC)
Well,they have won the AFC East 6 times and been AFC Champions twice but yeah they haven't won a thing.
(no subject) - TGolden27 - Jan. 21st, 2015 09:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
Buttockus
Jan. 21st, 2015 07:54 pm (UTC)
Packers Morghulis
I don't watch much football--I prefer television that depicts less violence and more integrity, like Game of Thrones. Since I now filter all of life through the lens of ASOIAF (and thanks a LOT for that mindset), I have started to refer to Bill as Tywinatallcosts. This should definitely catch on.

Sincerely,
B. Finch, Esq.
kadaria
Jan. 21st, 2015 07:58 pm (UTC)
I moved to MA five years ago (transplanted Steelers fan) but I've been loosely following the deflation drama. ESPN just posted a blurb saying that the Colts had complained about the balls at halftime and reported it. I'm not really understanding why the matter wasn't investigated at that point. Is it because there's too much money riding on a play-off game like that to just cancel it in the middle?
Could weather have been a factor in this? We had just had a week of below 20F weather but then on Sunday it was raining and 50F. However, I'm assuming the balls are checked right before the game.
Mary Ellen Wofford
Jan. 21st, 2015 07:58 pm (UTC)
All I can think of is Mr. Nixon did win the election the year of Watergate but he wasn't in office too much longer afterwards.

The Patriots organization may be in a bigger trouble than they realize.
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