Ballgahzi is a Lot of Hot Air

According to public outcry, under inflated footballs are worth 38 points

by Brandon Rush | @BrandonRush |

Say what you want about Deflategate, Ballgahzi, or whatever corny name people are trying to put on this “scandal”, it is not a big deal. If not for the general hatred of the New England Patriots, this would be such a non-story, but because everyone dislikes Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, deflated balls is all of a sudden a travesty.

I fully believe Tom Brady when he addressed the media Thursday saying “I didn’t alter the ball in any way.” Technically, that is probably very true. I just don’t see Touchdown Tom sitting at his locker inside Gillette Stadium moistening an air pump needle to reduce the air pressure contained within a Wilson football. Did Brady pay off the equipment manager to leak air out of the balls to improve his and his teams grip on the ball? Do we know the air pressure of every ball ever used for every historical moment in NFL history? Has Brady and the Pats been doing this for a decade? Was the shooter on the grassy knoll? Even if any of those scenarios are true, is this really worth this much attention?

We all know how this is going to end. No, Belichick is not getting suspended for the Super Bowl. No, the Colts are not going to the title game because the win in the AFC Championship Game is going to be vacated. No, New England is not going to lose all their selections in May’s draft.

What will happen? Patriots owner Robert Kraft will get a hefty fine, some poor schlub is going to lose his job as an assistant equipment manager, New England will probably lose a 4th round (or later) pick, and the NFL will do something it should have done a LONG time ago.

Everyone should play with the same ball, league wide.

The result of all this hoopla should be that the league will change it’s protocols on game balls. They should be universally prepped at the league offices in New York under supervision of the Director of Officials, and shipped to the stadium the day before the game, handled only by officials until the start of on-field pregame activities. Air pressure checked at halftime to ensure they haven’t been modified during play. Kickers and punters should no longer have “K” balls which are generally harder and more slippery. Think about that, it’s OK for kickers and punters to use tricked up football, but no one else?

Somehow some will think this is a bit extreme and unnecessary, but so is the outcry over this silly story. But you know who is not catching any of the blame? The officials, and the Director of Officials Dean Blandino.

After the numerous missed calls in the playoffs, the botched and waived pass interference penalty against Dallas in the Wild Card round against Detroit, then the video surfacing of Blandino partying it up with Cowboys brass in Hollywood over the summer, somehow the stripes and their leadership have escaped any share of the blame in this issue. At least one of the seven officials on the field touch the ball on every play. They have an obligation to catch infractions on the field, officials can see players twenty yards away running at full speed pull a players jersey and restrict his movement and ability to catch a ball, but when that same ball is in their hands, a paid professional cannot know the feel of a ball being manipulated?

I guess the officials get a pass because we all remember the replacement refs and the whole “Touchception” drama, but if anyone needs to face punishment for this, the officials and Blandino are not without blood on their hands for this.

How can the NFL crack down on Belichick, Brady, or the Patriots when it’s own officials are equally complicit? Which brings me to my point.

This is such a non-issue. The players are not upset about it, most team officials and coaches have been fairly calm about it. The only people upset are the media (because you have to find a way to fill two weeks worth of time until the game) and the fans of the other 30 teams not playing for a title.

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