Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

May 12, 2015 — The $1 million punishment

Yesterday, the National Football League came down hard on the New England Patriots for their role in deflating footballs below the league minimum pressure for the comfort and benefit of their future Hall-of-Fame quarterback, Tom Brady.

The punishments were strong and severe: Brady was suspended four games, the team was docked a pair of draft picks, two members of the team’s game-day staff were banned, and the franchise was fined $1 million.

Talking heads have been discussing and parsing this punishment for the last 24 hours, discussing everything from the integrity of the game to the security of footballs to the appropriateness and severity of this punishment vis-a-vis past scandals including steroids, espionage, bullying, and drugs.

For all of the barking and hot air, I think there are two reasons the punishment has come out in the way it has.

  1. Spygate. The scandal back in 2007 which saw the Patriots accused of videotaping opposing coaches’ signals as well as at least one opposing team’s practice resulted in a fine of $750,000 and the revocation of a first-round draft choice. The ball-deflation scandal, in this context, is seen as part of a pattern of cheating on the part of a four-time Super Bowl champion and not just an isolated incident.
  2. Texts. As we’ve discussed on numerous occasions over the years, it is amazing how many people arrested in the field hockey community on morals charges either aroused suspicion or were convicted on electronic evidence. Texts, emails, pictures, and other communications are permanent record, and investigators can get their hands on them months after the fact. Such was the case when locker room attendant Jim McNally and assistant equipment manager John Jastremski sent texts to each other, some of which referred to the inflation or deflation of game-day footballs.

As such, I think something had to be done. It was an upgrade of a previous punishment, and it sends a message to the rest of the 31 teams in the league.

I also find it interesting that Major League Baseball has also decided on making ball security an issue; putting an MLB official in charge of retrieving the rubbed-down game balls from the umpires’ locker room rather than giving the ballkids the job as has been the case for the last 130 years.

Of course, as we have posited in the past, this wouldn’t be an issue if the football was ready to play right out of the box and the coddled multimillion-dollar quarterbacks didn’t have a complex about whether or not a ball “felt right.”

I’m just putting it out there.


1 Comment»

  Adam wrote @

Good points! The Patriots previous shady incidents certainly contributed to their current punishment. The Patriots have been great with Brady and they probably didn’t need the advantages they gained through “Spygate” and “Deflategate.” The NFL referees or NFL personnel should supply the game balls and have a chain of care and control of the balls so the kickers, quarterbacks, etc. can’t “doctor” the balls.
FYI. Manufacturers of footballs, basketballs and volleyballs ship the balls uninflated. They also ship the cardboard ball packaging in its broken down (flat) state to so they can pack as many of the balls and packaging into a container as possible. If the balls are shipped inflated and in their boxes, they would take up more shipping space and add to the costs of the balls. I worked at a sporting goods store in college and spent hours inflating balls and packaging them.
Of course, I’m sure the manufacturer would probably ship them inflated to the NFL if they require it.

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