Grasping At Straws: A Patriot Fan’s Dilemma

I woke up on Monday feeling great about my team. It’s been a while since I felt this confident about the Patriots. I would argue that they are the best team in the NFL.

On Monday morning, I turned on the radio and caught the tail end on the WEEI interview with Tom Brady. Kirk Minihane was asking Brady about deflated footballs, which obviously shocked Brady. At first, I thought Minihane was just giving him a hard time. But I soon learned that the story had merit and it gave me a sick feeling. The Patriots already have an army of naysayers that will keep SpyGate in their back pocket forever. They really can’t afford another hit like that to their reputation and legacy.

It’s not so much about competitive advantage in the AFC championship. The Colts were clearly over-matched. The Patriots outscored the Colts 28-0 in the second half with footballs that were inflated to NFL regulations.

It’s about tampering with the footballs and if this took place between the time they were inspected by the referees 2:15 hours before the game, until the start of the game.

This is the part that infuriates me and probably most Patriots fans. Why do something that is so risky (i.e. deflating the ball) when it is so unnecessary?

I’m no fair-weather fan. As a kid in the mid-80s, I sat with my parents was at old Sullivan stadium, shoulder-to-shoulder on that long freezing bench. I loved the Patriots back then and still do now. At one time, I thought the Patriots 46-10 loss in Super Bowl XX to the Chicago Bears might go down as the the worst moment in Patriots history. But I was wrong. SkyGate was worse and now this.

A find myself in a real dilemma as the DeflateGate reports are leaking out. I feel contradicted, I stand with the Pats, but don’t support undermining the rules of the game. I want The Patriot’s accomplishments to be recognized, but the “Patriot Way” needs to be real.

The press conferences did not bode well for Belichick or Brady. Especially Brady, who was bombarded with insinuating questions from many reporters already presuming him guilty. Brady did not respond well enough. His answers didn’t provide much insight as to what could have happened and I felt very unsatisfied afterwards. I respect Brady standing up and taking so many questions. But you have to wonder what the Patriots PR folks were thinking, leaving him out there for so long.

The national media has covered this story in a disgraceful way… sensationalizing, over-dramatizing, misreporting and making jokes. It has a witch-hunt feel.

Take Ian O’Connor’s story on ESPN, which describes Tom Brady as a “lead-footed pocket passer”. This is mudslinging tactic that has nothing to do with the subject at hand, nor is it accurate. It’s amazing how many moral imperialists come out of the woodwork to when a controversy arises which doesn’t involve them.

Nonetheless, things don’t look good for the Patriots if 11 out of 12 footballs were 2 PSI under NFL regulations. NFL fans have a right to be upset based on the information available.

All week, I’ve hoped that new information would come out to exonerate the Patriots, but each piece of information seemed to sink them deeper into a hole. Now I find myself grasping at straws, hoping some wild conspiracy or scientific explanation will rescue my faith in Belichick, Brady, and the Patriots.

The NFL investigation may continue until after the Super Bowl. I’ll be in this holding pattern until the truth is revealed. Until that time, I’ve made up my mind that I’m rooting for my team, the Patriots.