‘Pats’ try to let air out of ball flap


Photo Courtest of TNS Newswire

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws a pass in the first half against the Indianapolis Colts Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. (Sam Riche/MCT)

By Sports & Health Reporter

The New England Patriots have once again been ensnared in an alleged cheating scandal, using intentionally deflated footballs . 

Following accusations that the team had under-inflated balls in the American Football Conference championship game against the Indianapolis Colts, the fiasco has now become known as “deflate-gate.”

Previously, the New England Patriots have been known as a model franchise in the NFL, but now the team faces a tough question from sports fans: Is the media inflating the accusation, or will the Patriots legacy slowly deflate?  

ESPN first reported on Jan. 21 that 11 out of the 12 Patriots footballs used in the AFC game were under-inflated, potentially making it easier for the quarterback to throw more accurately and easier for receivers and running backs to catch and run with the ball, especially in severe weather—the Patriots beat the Colts 45-7 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, during a torrential downpour.

Since that game, Fox Sports has reported that the NFL has zoned in on a surveillance video of a Patriots locker room attendant allegedly taking the AFC championship footballs from the officials’ locker room to an undisclosed location on the way to the field. 

Shortly after the allegations, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick held a press conference stating that the team complied with standard practices. Belichick claimed that the balls may have deflated for other reasons, such as atmospheric pressure, according to ESPN.

Tom Brady also said he had no idea what happened to the balls, according to ESPN.

Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, a lecturer in the Communication and Media Innovations Department and long time Patriots fan, said there have been other examples where   Belichick has crossed the line.

“It is pretty clear that something happened and Belichick’s explanations of the ‘atmosphere’ don’t make any sense because the Colts [footballs] were in the same atmosphere and nothing happened to them,” Kelly Lowenstein said. “So, something happened.”

Many sports fans have speculated through social media about what consequences the Patriots may face if found guilty. 

“I have heard a lot of different ideas on that, so I am not sure,” Kelly Lowenstein said. “Some people have gone everywhere from [taking away] draft picks [or] not letting them into the Hall of Fame, so, that is not my call.”

James Leonard, a junior journalism major, said the locker attendant is the Patriots’ scapegoat and thinks the team will receive no serious consequences if found guilty. 

“The franchise has so much money that you could fine them whatever [amount],” Leonard said. 

Whether or not the allegations against the Patriots are being overblown has been hotly debated over social media. 

Quentin McDonald, a senior interactive arts & media major, said it may be a combination of media overhyping and fans drawing their own conclusions. 

“I think people are quick to come to conclusions because I remember when I was younger, I was really tired of seeing the Patriots in the Super Bowl,” McDonald said. 

Leonard said that since there have not been many alleged incidents of cheating, it is good that the media is making people aware of it. 

“It is probably a little larger than it should be,” Leonard said. “I don’t think it had any effect on the game at the end of the day.” 

Kelly Lowenstein said a lot of people in the country view the Patriots negatively because of the team’s success and past activities. 

As a league member and corporation, the Patriots should face consequences because many Americans bet on the team, McDonald said. 

“There is a lot of money involved in this league, and if I were betting on the Patriots and found out that they cheated, someone would want their money back,” McDonald said. “And I wouldn’t want to give my money back.”  

The final looming question is whether one of the greatest coach-and-quarterback duos in NFL history will be able to save face in light of these allegations.

“For people that don’t like Belichick, and there are many, this is just another issue to compromise his legacy, and Brady is a part of that,” Kelly Lowenstein said. 

Leonard said the current Patriots era will still go out as a legacy. 

“Nobody talks about [spy-gate] anymore and they got caught,” Leonard said. “Nobody brings that up and they still smoked Indianapolis, so it was not that big of a deal.”

According to a Jan. 28 article on NBC.com, a recent poll by Public Policy Polling found that 41 percent of Americans think the Patriots cheated and 27 percent believe  they did not.  

“I think that it has taken a lot of energy and attention at a time when the team should be concentrating on getting ready for the Super Bowl,” Kelly Lowenstein said. “It has been a big distraction. If you are a Patriots fan like I am, that is one level of concern. The deeper level of concern is, did they break the rules?”