by THOMAS O’SCANNELL Section Editor
The NFL confirmed on Wednesday, January 21, 2015 that 11 out of the 12 balls used by the Patriots in this year’s AFC Championship game were underinflated, subjecting the team to cheating accusations.
The investigation was instigated directly after the conclusion of the AFC Championship game on Sunday, January 18 after a report from Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said the ball felt underinflated.
“This is outrageous. Bill Belichick is saying he didn’t know about it. They just keep lying, and there should definitely be a rematch. I can’t say I’m shocked, just enraged. Whoever is responsible should not be allowed to play in the Super Bowl,” says sophomore Achal Shah.
In the second quarter, Jackson intercepted Brady’s pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski, reporting to a Colts staff member that the ball felt funny, who then told Colts head coach Chuck Pagano.
The situation was taken very seriously by the NFL who began investigating the balls the day directly after the game. Soon enough, all but one Patriots ball was found under the league limit by at least two pounds. An investigation from the league showed the balls were smaller than the size of a high school football.
Sophomore Sam D’Urso says, “This isn’t the first time the Patriots have been caught cheating; being a Jets fan, I remember about how horrible the Spygate scandal was back in 2007. It’s disgusting. Once a cheater, always a cheater.”
The aftermath of this discovery has now pit the Patriots against the rest of the league. All those involved in the sport and those who have retired have gotten involved, outlining their opinions on the matter.
Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Chris Simms said he thinks this has been going on all year in the New England camp.
There has been an unexpected amount of those running to defend the Patriots, including the Colts’ very own Dwayne Allen.
Calling for the end of criticism to the Patriots, he says, “They could have played with soap for balls and still beat us.”
There have been a number of possible punishments mentioned for the Patriots’ infractions such as talk of fines and loss of draft picks, but the NFL has not commented on this yet (reportedly, they also have not contacted Tom Brady on the matter).
The reason why the Patriots are not being given the benefit of the doubt is because of the Spygate scandal in 2007. The franchise was caught filming New York Jets signals and were punished severely afterward. They were also caught spying on the St. Louis Rams and the New York Giants, filming their practices before each Super Bowl.
What has already been a tumultuous year for the NFL does not get any better with this new scandal. The beginning of the season was shadowed by domestic abuse cases, most notably involving running backs Ray Rice (Baltimore Ravens) who assaulted his now-wife, and Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings) who was accused of being negligent toward his son.
Rice’s contract with the Ravens was ultimately terminated, while Peterson was unable to play for the rest of the season. People believe the Patriots should be punished harshly to improve the reputation of the league.
Whether the Patriots will be punished or are even responsible for the balls’ deflation is yet to be concluded by the league, but there should be a verdict before the big game with the Seahawks on Sunday, February 1 at 6:30 PM.
Will the continuous cheating accusations leave a permanent stain on the Patriots’ legacy?