Andrew Luck responds to Robert Kraft.
I’m ghostwriting for Andrew Luck today. He’s got a lot to say and opted to hand it off to me to divine it.
After watching and reading and listening to Patriots fans and Patriots media sympathizers and, most disturbingly, the Patriots organization from the owner down claim that:
- They didn’t do anything wrong and;
- Even if they did it, it was just ‘taking the top off’ off the game balls’ pressure and hardly consequential and;
- Even if they did it, it didn’t impact the game and;
- Even if they did it, you don’t have evidence and;
- Even if they did it, everyone does it and;
- This was an NFL sting and;
- The only reason this is a big deal is because all the world hates the Patriots and again;
- Everyone does it.
After listening to this, I wish to go on record: the fact that all eleven of the games in the Patriots’ possession were well below 12.5 while the balls I used were all legal — between 12.5 and 13.5 psi — on a cold, damp, windy night in January in Massachusetts had indeed a material affect on the outcome of the game.
Now that the Patriots’ have astonishingly launched a site ‘to refute’ the Wells Report, I wish to rebut the rebuttals.
1. They didn’t do anything wrong.
Footballs were checked by NFL referees an hour before kickoff, found to be appropriately inflated, and placed in the Patriots’ care for the game. In the course of the game, all the Pats’ footballs were found to be under inflated while the Colts’ balls were found to be properly inflated. I fail to see why this fact itself is not sufficient to demonstrate that Patriots
did something wrong cheated or why it requires more discussion.
2. Deflating balls is inconsequential.
Let me say this once and for all: I am able to control the football better if it is softer. Getting a grip on the football is fundamental to passing (as well as handling snaps and handing off to running backs). Thus, making the ball softer is very consequential. This is why hand size matters when evaluating QBs in the combine. Nick Foles had the largest hands of any player in his draft class and it is an advantage for him. Russell Wilson demonstrates the hand size is perhaps even a more important measurable than height. This is why Teddy Bridgewater wears a glove and we all remember what happened when he took his glove off.
Working with the max range of air pressures, my hardest ball was 12.95 psi while Brady’s softest was 10.5 psi. That’s a 23% delta. It was freezing at kickoff that night with a 10 mph wind.
If we can agree that getting a grip on the football is indeed consequential for QB performance then it follows that having 20% lower air pressure improves your grip and thus is a consequential advantage. The advantage is magnified in poor weather conditions. (See photo at top of post.) And finally there were 73 plays in the first half where the Patriots’ enjoyed this unfair advantage. (And it would have been double the number of plays had not Brady thrown the interception which led to our alerting the NFL to the Pats’ cheating.)
“Inconsequential,” say Patriots people? Frankly, it is hard to concoct a scenario that is more consequential to the outcome of game. And not for nothing, if it’s inconsequential why is your HOF QB paying off part time locker room boys with “newkicks” to go through this clandestine operation before every game. Obviously it’s because Brady doesn’t want to play with the same “rugby” balls with which I had to play.
3. Didn’t impact the game since the Pats won by a large margin and even scored better in the second half.
What nonsense this is. First, the charge is cheating; the question of impact on the game could not be more beside the point. But second, When you have a cheated on 73 plays (with the intent to cheat on every non-kicking play), you have impacted the game. It was 14-0 Pats after the first quarter; 17-7 at halftime. What if Brady would’ve thrown three pick 6s in the first half because of harder balls? Isn’t it probable that the Pats don’t score 21-0 in the third quarter without the halftime lead? Losing by 17 changes both the offense’s execution and makes defensive scheming easier leading to the bad pick that put us down 24. I assure you that I would get a first down in the third quarter if the score were just tied coming out of halftime; I assure you the Pats would not have scored 21-0 on us. Which brings us to, third: it doesn’t matter because you don’t know, I don’t know, no one knows how the game would’ve changed had the Patriots simply taken the game balls given to them and not
tampered with them cheated. It is unknowable how their cheating affected the game. To assert that it didn’t impact the outcome is simple (and convenient) flawed logic.
4. No evidence. Prove it. Then apologize.
Christ, how about the balls on Robert Kraft? I really think living in the ultra-rich bubble provided him by marrying well has either made him soft or led him to believe the statement preponderance of evidence doesn’t apply to him.
It’s like he’s surrounded himself with people who say, “Yes sir, Mr. Kraft, great idea” for so long that he doesn’t even know when he’s in the midst of a bad idea. (See photo at right.) It boggles the mind that Kraft actually thinks this is not proof. I truly believe that if Robert Kraft were confronted with a video of his employee in a bathroom time stamped an hour before kickoff inserting needles into game balls, he would say either that there’s no proof air was actually let out of the balls through the insertion of the needle and/or the video tape was staged like the moon landing.
5. Everyone does it.
Well I didn’t do it.
6. The NFL was out to get the Patriots.
According to many, the NFL had been “tipped off” that the Patriots that they were suspected of cheating and that therefore the NFL should have warned the Patriots not to cheat in the AFC Championship. What horseshit this is: “I cheated but it’s your fault for not telling me not to cheat.” No, that’s not how it works. How it works is the same as telling refs something like: we’ve seen on film that the Pats cornerbacks are chucking well outside three yards from the line of scrimmage and we’d like you to watch for it. It is not then the ref’s responsibility to rush over to the Pats’ HC and tell him to cool it on hand checking because he’ll be watching for it. No, the best course of action is probably
to abide by the rules don’t cheat.
7. All the world hates the Patriots.
My ghostwriter was actually rooting for the Pats in the Super Bowl. Like really pulling hard for the Pats to pull it out. But even if everyone does hate the Patriots, that doesn’t give the Patriots license to attempt to cheat in all the roughly 150 plays in a championship game and to succeed in cheating on 73 plays.
8. Everyone does it.
This is worth a repeat: I didn’t do it. I followed the rules. I played at a disadvantage and lost. Here is where, in 2015 USA, we need to revisit why there are rules of play in the first place. Rules are in place to protect everyone. “Fairness.” “Level playing field.” These are not abstract constructs; these guiding principles we all should embrace. Breaking the rules is cheating and while it’s technically ‘illegal,’ it is also immoral and unethical. There is a problem in our discourse when people shy away from calling cheating cheating and resort to such euphemisms as ‘gamesmanship’ and ‘gaining an advantage’ and ‘bending the rules.’ (Thank you Mike Pettine for being the sole NFL person to call this what it is.) The Patriots organization with premeditation set out to cheat against the Colts.1
AND WERE REWARDED ULTIMATELY WITH A SUPER BOWL WIN!!
They cheated and held the Lombardi Trophy. And launched the grossed campaign of obfuscation that I can remember in all my years of sports watching. What message does that future cheaters? The message is go for it. Even if you get caught, you’ll only lose some game time and draft picks and cash. One can imagine a risk management brainstorm session in Foxboro: “What’s the worst that can happen? It’s not like the can make us forfeit our trip to the Super Bowl. It is actually safer to cheat in the biggest game than in a smaller game because the NFL won’t have the courage to enforce the rules.”
And that is why the only appropriate league response should have been the immediate forfeiture of our game.
Cheating problem: solved.
Go to page 8 for exact ball inflations.
Go to page 13 for conclusion.