Sunday, May 1, 2016

Why People are Getting Angry About Tom Brady's "Deflategate" for the Wrong Reasons

In the name of full disclosure, I live in New Hampshire and am a fan of the New England Patriots in general and of Tom Brady in particular. I think Brady is a tremendous player, has done some outstanding philanthropic work, and I am truly a part of Patriot Nation.

That being said, I can't help but be a bit disturbed by the direction society (and I'm sorry, New England, but this is mostly you) is going with their reaction to this.

From Russell Street Report, which gives a pretty good bulleted list of the findings of the Wells Report, and makes clear that "the standard of proof required to find that a violation of the competitive rules has occurred".

In other words, the Patriots knowingly cheated. I don't want it to be true as a Patriots fan, but I have a hard time looking away from a preponderance of evidence. Read the report if you haven't ... the Wells Report is dry, but the bullets from Russell Street are pretty easy to follow. It outlines the evidence.

Which does exist. (Sorry, but it does)

Football is a game. It's a game well loved in America, and I've certainly done my share of drinking beer and eating pizza while watching men in uniform dance around the line of scrimmage.

When something happens during a game to directly impact the integrity of the game, there needs to be a game-level consequence. Unnecessary roughness. Holding. Encroachment. False start. All are dealt with during the game.

Deflating footballs was a different level of offense ... and so it had to be dealt with at a higher level.

However, it was still an offense about a game.

Deflategate is, when you take the air out of everyone's arguments (heh), a rich and powerful football team trying to cheat and win a big game. They got caught. They got punished.

Along comes this meme. though, and others like it, and I get upset. Appalled. Shocked. Unable to understand why people are unable to see what they are saying ...


I think the person who made this meme (and those who are posting out, many of whom are my friends on Facebook) has this mindset:
"These terrible men did awful things and the major sports leagues don't say anything. Tom Brady has knowledge of deflated footballs and he gets suspended for four games. How unfair is that????"

While Brady looks pretty silly standing in that company over air pressure, the fact is that his is the only offense that was in direct violation of the game of football. He is the only one of the six men on the meme that cheated at his given sport, was caught breaking the sport's specific rules, and has to pay the consequences.

If you want to have a beef with anybody, take it up with the national sports leagues. They allow violent athletes to act a certain way off the field or out of the ring but rarely hold them accountable for this terrible behavior as long as they hold it together while on the team's turf.

I want to make it very clear that I am not making apologies for the men in this meme.

Ben Roethlisberger is accused of sexually assaulting multiple women. Ray Lewis was charged with two counts of murder. Boxer Floyd Mayweather used the mother of his children as a punching bag. Ray Rice knocked his former fiancee (now wife) unconscious in an elevator. Adrian Peterson beat his son with a tree branch.

These are not nice people. No, these are horrible people, and I can say as a woman once married to a man who abused both myself and my children as well as a rape survivor that I would never be an apologist for this sort of behavior. It is never okay to do the things that Peterson, Rice, Mayweather, Lewis, Roethlisberger, or Peyton Manning (just because he kept it under the radar does not mean it didn't happen!) did.    

Their bad actions do not make "Deflategate" less legitimate, however.

The NFL isn't wrong to punish the New England Patriots for the air pressure debacle that has become known as Deflateglate. This was a football game issue, and it is being sanctioned as such. We may not like it, but it is fair.

What they, and many other national and international sports teams ARE wrong about, however, are that no set sanctions exist for deplorable behavior such as those monsters in the meme posted above.

This opens up a can of worms where people will start screaming about what exactly constitutes "unacceptable behavior" (a DUI? shoplifting? marrying a cousin? using the wrong bathroom in North Carolina?) and we'll have the whole political correct screaming fit because it's impossible to have respectful discourse anymore, but it seems to me that something has to be done.

This bad behavior has been allowed to continue because these athletes are so very talented and it's off the field, so the contractual language is fuzzy.

Yeah, friends and neighbors ... Deflateglate's a smokescreen for a bigger issue that nobody wants to talk about.

Let's please have that conversation...