The situation is well known. At halftime of their 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, the New England Patriots’ footballs were being inflated back to regulation levels, between 12.5 psi and 13.5 psi.
The league investigation is still ongoing, so it is impossible to know why the footballs were underinflated until that report is released. Many people, however, believe that someone within the Patriots’ organization had something to do with “Deflategate.”
Some have suggested that Indianapolis deflated the football intercepted by linebacker D’Qwell Jackson to 2 psi under regulation, prompting the officials to measure all of the Patriots’ footballs. That theory came after Ian Rapport of NFL.com reported Feb. 1 that while 11 of 12 footballs were underinflated, only one was 2 psi under the minimum.
It could be weeks before the NFL releases the report on its investigation, and until then the speculation will continue.
Regardless of what happened, there is no reason to believe the outcome of the game would have been different, given the final score. What happened had no impact on the Patriots winning Super Bowl XLIX. Deflategate does, nonetheless, raise serious concerns about the integrity of the game.
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will go down as one of the greatest quarterback-coach combinations in NFL history, however, their legacy will always be tainted by multiple instances in which the Patriots were found to have cheated.
When a team or individual player cheats, it is disrespectful to everyone else who plays the game, and it is disrespectful to the fans. The fans want to see a level playing field and close games, not blowouts. More than that, cheating undermines the character of the game.
Undermining the integrity of the game is a sign of laziness and poor character. The players who cheat are the players who are too lazy to put in the work necessary to win an NFL game.
That laziness casts a shadow over the character of the players. Eventually, the character of the game is questioned.
When a cheating scandal emerges, people start to ask what kind of league it can be if players think they can cheat.
When the emphasis is placed on the few players in the league who cheat, most people are blinded to the players who work hard, give back to the communities they live in and come from and are honest in how they play the game.
It blinds people to the players who deserve the focus.
In the end, the integrity of the game is not just important; it is everything. If a game is filled with cheating, then the game means nothing. There is no reason for anyone to watch the game, because any victory is meaningless. If any game is won through dishonesty, it really is not won at all.
The integrity of the game is everything in every sport. Countless players will never see their name enshrined in Cooperstown, Canton, Toronto and Naismith because they chose to cheat. Without the integrity of the game, the wins and losses mean nothing.
Without the integrity of the game, there is no game.
Feb. 13, 2015