Scandal shroud success? New England Patriots deserve the win despite #deflategate



It’s taking over the NFL world as we know it.

There has been much speculation, but until a few days ago … that’s all it really was.

Since then, a surveillance video has been unearthed – making speculation more than just an educated guess.

A Patriots’ locker room attendant was caught red-handed … and the whole organization is up-in-arms. Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots franchise has expressed his displeasure with such scandals before, most notably the “Spygate” debacle, colloquially called so by all those who remember the Patriots being busted for utilizing taped footage of defensive signals from opponents on the sideline of games and tiptoeing the line of moral and immoral.

Kraft is no happier over the latest farce.

Up until the point that the surveillance tape was uncovered, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, head coach Bill Belichick and various other players, coaches and attendants fielded questions with a cool dissonance.

No one knew anything, ball PSI was of no concern to anyone, they were moving on to Seattle.

While the Patriots did comply with all NFL interrogations and investigations, 11 of the 12 balls used in the first half of last Sunday’s AFC Championship game against the Colts were actually found to be two-pounds lighter than NFL rules specify.

When Kraft confronted Belichick about “Spygate” he asked, “on a scale of 1 to 10, how much did we benefit from those tapes?”

Belichick answered, “one.”

Kraft was displeased.

Why in the world would Belichick risk the integrity of the franchise for something that didn’t even help to advance his team? It’s a weighty question. I would bet that the question and response for deflategate would be very similar.

The Patriots still managed to put a mighty beat down on the Colts in front of a national audience. After the balls were switched out to NFL quality PSI for the second half – 28 points were scored. Even if Tom Brady’s tossing scores were invalidated, LeGarrette Blount carried the ball into the end zone three times on the day.

If those three scores alone counted for the Patriots, they still would have outscored the Colts’ offense by a margin of 21-7.

Aaron Rodgers exchanges greetings with New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick following Sunday’s game. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Regardless of the ball pressure, Andrew Luck and Co. couldn’t hang anything but a hat on a staunch, prideful Patriots’ defense.

With all that said, as a fan of the Green Bay Packers – and in light of the fact that they are no longer racing toward the Lombardi Trophy – I’d like to write a letter of influence to any and all fans of the NFL, but especially to my fellow Packers fans; no doubt still seething from the three-minute miracle in Seattle.

To Whom It May Concern:

I should clarify that, I am first and foremost a member of Packers Nation; however, I do thoroughly enjoy the game of football, as a whole.

What I witnessed last weekend in Seattle, was a disgrace. I have never been more let down and felt more conflicting emotions than I did that day.

It is my hatred of the Seahawks that gives me the clarity of mind to write a letter of recommendation for the New England Patriots, yes – but it is also my love of the game that allows me to do so.

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are probably the greatest QB and HC tandum in NFL history, if not just recent memory.

The type of success they have been able to achieve since 2000 has been spectacular and they both are first-ballot Hall of Fame candidates.

If the scandals shroud their success, it really shouldn’t.

Yes, tiptoeing the line between what is moral and what is not, what is good and what is evil … that is what is really at play here. But, as with the Dolphins’ controversy last year regarding Richie Incognito and Johnathon Martin: every franchise has their skeletons, it just isn’t always forced into the light.

Success is what makes people admire and love you. Sustained success is what makes them hate you.

The Patriots have been the target of all those who wish to see true dynasties crumble. Those people will stop at nothing to spew fallacies and dig beneath the surface for things that play to their end game.

Did the Spygate scandal really change the success that the Brady and Belichick had?

Absolutely not.

Tom Brady watches the scoreboard after the Packers defeated the Patriots at Lambeau Field. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

I agree with Belichick when he estimated the amount of help the tapes were to their success, being the lowest rating available.

When the tapes were discovered and the skeletons brought to light, Brady and Co. continued doing what they always do: win.

In fact, their win percentage SINCE Spygate has actually increased, though they haven’t actually won a Super Bowl since the revelation. They have however, been to and lost multiple close games to Eli Manning and the New York Giants, back when they were actually relevant.

So, did the tapes matter?

Statistics tell us no.

Did the ball PSI matter?

As I have already pointed out, two pounds of ball pressure didn’t elevate the Patriots scoring ability enough to generate 45 points. However, even if it had … the Colts general offensive deficiencies are what really sealed their fate last Sunday. They couldn’t move the ball into Patriots’ territory, let alone into the end zone.

So why support a tandem that so lackadaisically treads the line between right and wrong?

It all depends on what you see as “right” or “wrong” in the NFL.

In a league that is largely based on parity, it is difficult to sustain success over a period of 15 seasons, as they have been able to do. In order to keep yourself at the top, you have to find ways to challenge your opponents.

While taping their defensive hand signals and deflating footballs is obviously not the answer, those are just two instances swirled together in a legacy of “pushing the envelope” that has been completely legal, if not completely brilliant.

Take their four-offensive lineman scheme from the divisional round against the Baltimore Ravens. With an ineligible receiver lined up on the line of scrimmage, John Harbaugh was not only confused, he was legitimately convinced the formation was illegal, as it confounded his defense and led to big plays.

However, it was just an instance of Belichick doing his due-diligence inside the NFL handbook and keeping their secrets in his back pocket for the precise opportunity.

He found the opportunity.

Julian Edelman celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass during the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens in the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots won 35-31. Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Another instance occurred in the same game – a simple bubble screen to former college QB Julian Edelman, resulted in a 51-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola.

Edelman now holds the highest QB rating of any QB in post-season history, surpassing even Tom Brady.

That Edelman-to-Amendola exchange was a play designed and practiced for five years. Belichick held it in his pocket for five years; until it would be executed PERFECTLY.

It worked.

I can find ways to appreciate the greatness of the Belichick and Brady era because I believe we are seeing something similar between Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers. Hopefully six to seven years from now, the Packers success will mirror the Patriots (in the cleanest of ways).

While I do not condone what Bill Belichick has done when crossing the line, by whatever margin, I can look past it to see the true success story that they are.

For that reason alone, the New England Patriots have my vote and my voice on Sunday.

If you are still not convinced to cheer for (what could be) a storied ending to a storied franchise tandem, think of this:

More from Lombardi Ave

The Seahawks stole our first-round bye in 2012 by TOUCHCEPTION, and both Pete Carroll and Golden Tate (along with all other players and personnel) had the audacity to mock the NFL world with their gum-chewing-side-grinning mumbo-jumbo about simultaneous possession.

They smack-talk and self-nickname and over-inflate their egos to the point of exhaustion – and they are on the verge of carrying away a second Lombardi Trophy in the first four years of Russell Wilson‘s rookie contract, on our backs, claiming God set them up for a dramatic finish, causing four interceptions in order to make their win that much more spectacular.

Well, if God is really invested in the outcome of football games, I sure hope He’s donning red, white and blue this Super Bowl Sunday.

Next: Mike McCarthy's season-ending press conference today