I don’t know how to feel

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:28 PM

Friends and family know what I big football fan I am, in general and of the Patriots in particular. There are other teams I like, of course. I like the Bears because of marriage. I never thought one way or another about them other than when I disliked them intensely in 1985. That was the year they demolished my Patriots in the Super Bowl. It was embarrassing.

I like the Green Bay Packers, the New Orleans Saints. I don’t usually mind the Seahawks. I used to love the 49ers but I haven’t for a long time. Most teams I don’t care particularly one way or the other about. I like to see good plays and to watch good games. There are teams I dislike intensely, but I have friends who like them so I usually refrain from dissing. I don’t find it necessary, and I think it would border on mean. People are entitled to who they like without others continually telling them how horrible that like is. That’s my philosophy, in sports and politics.

I realize there are many out there who would and do say bad things about the Pats. They’re arrogant; they’re thugs. Whatever, and I get tired of it. It’s football. It’s a turf war in every sense of the word. We take sides, just like in politics. We like and we dislike based on preference and history and geography.

So I don’t know how to feel today, finding out about the 2 pound deflation of the footballs used in the AFC championship game against the Colts on Sunday. Everyone, including the Colts, say that the underinflated footballs had nothing to do with the blowout win. The Colts simply didn’t play well. That’s not the point. The point is that rules were broken and as Viper so stoically informed Maverick and Goose in Top Gun “(Top Gun) rules exist for a reason. They are not flexible; nor am I.”

When I first read this, my first thought was give me a break. It didn’t make any sense at all. It seemed like haters just finding another way to hate. Yes, I know there’s history of the Pats cheating – I remember the spying scandal – but I’m not naïve enough, and I doubt most people are, to believe that other professional sports teams don’t stretch the boundaries. It’s sports. It’s about money. It’s about winning. Hopefully it’s done legally; if we push a bit, and don’t get caught, so be it.

But I don’t really believe that. I tend to be more on the side of Viper.

Part of me is still wondering what the big deal is. A slightly underinflated football is simply easier to grip. It doesn’t necessarily make it more on target to the receivers, or ensure that the receivers will catch the ball. It certainly doesn’t have any bearing on running the ball.

I saw an interview with Mark Brunell this morning who said that he, too, liked a slightly less inflated ball. Others have said the same. Brad Johnson used underinflated footballs when he and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won Super Bowl 37. Matt Leinart tweeted this morning that every team tampers with the footballs and that this is ridiculous!! (His exclamations, not mine) Aaron Rodgers has said that he likes his footballs over-inflated and that the refs have often let air out in order to be compliant. It’s not just the Patriots, in other words.

But that doesn’t matter, and it’s not my point. The old saying “if everybody else jumped off a bridge, would you?” comes to mind. There was a rule, for a reason, and the rule was broken.

I think it’s kind of a ridiculous rule. It really doesn’t have an outcome on the final points, or if it does, I haven’t seen how. There isn’t a single football expert disputing the fact that the Patriots won. The only ones disputing it are the haters. And boy, do they hate. It always amazes me, the vitriol people are capable of.

But the Pats broke the rules, and I don’t know how to feel. I’m disappointed and sad. I’m disgusted because I don’t know what the point was. I’m irritated because they’ve ruined the elation I felt at them making it to the Super Bowl. This whole situation has left me unable to cheer wildly. But they’re still my team. I have to want them to win, and I do.

If they win, people will say it’s because they cheated. If they don’t win, people will says it because they couldn’t cheat. It’s no win either way.

I don’t understand the need to cheat. They’re a great team, filled with amazing talent on both sides of the ball. They’re coached by good coaches. Why?

So I don’t know how to feel. I suppose it’s a good thing that I can’t be so blinded by team loyalty, that I can recognize that this isn’t a good thing. It’s not a huge thing, but it is a thing. But I’m sad when I should be cheering it out loud.

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