Deflategate is a sham. Roger Goodell and the NFL took an equipment violation and turned it into the crime of the century. It’s all part of an effort to buy back trust and confidence from league owners after a tumultuous 2014.
The previous paragraph accurately sums up how the New England fan base feels about the debacle known as deflategate. It’s a bit one sided but not all together the worst summary of 2015’s biggest non story. The NFL and more than likely the other 44 states, look at this organizational massacre as one brand’s comeuppance for seemingly always skirting the rules.
Last week ESPN,which has hardly been in the New England Patriots corner during this mess, polled more than 100 NFL players asking them a variety of questions concerning their take on deflategate. While every fan and media member from around the globe has had their chance to jump on their proverbial soap boxes we have only heard from a select few actual colleagues of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
The 13 question survey begins by asking if the player believed the accusations that the Patriots knowingly deflated footballs; 72% said yes and 28% said no. Given the Patriot’s history, this comes as no real shock. Where it gets interesting is when the players are asked if they are upset with the Patriots over the alleged deflation of footballs; 84% said no and only 16% said yes. Take a moment to let that resonate, 84% of their peers look at this alleged reaction as
The majority of people the Patriots play week in and week out aren’t upset with this supposed travesty of justice.
Questions three and four run a bit closer to a split decision but, none the less, still fall in the Patriots favor. Question three point blank asks if the Patriots are cheaters; 58% said no and 48 percent said yes. Question four asked if the outcome of the game could be impacted by deflated footballs; 52% said no and 48% said yes.
When asked how many games Tom Brady should have been suspended for, the most common answer was 1.5, more than four games was 3%, four games was 19 % and fewer than four was a resounding 78%.
Questions six and seven were once again far apart in results but both in Tom Brady and the Patriot’s favor. Question six asked if the Patriots would still make the postseason without Brady (85% yes, 15% no.) Question seven asked if Spygate still stuck in their craw (80% no, 20% yes.)
Possibly the most indicative of the league’s biggest problems, from a player’s point of view, is Roger Goodell handling player discipline. 88% of players feel Roger should not decide discipline, with only 12% okay with his current role.
What should come as no surprise, to anyone who has ever competed athletically, are the questions and results garnered from inquiries nine through thirteen. When asked if other teams illegally tamper with the footballs, 68% said yes and 32% said no. Mind you, these are actual, current NFL players indicating that most teams tamper with the footballs. When asked about the most common form of on field cheating, 55% of those polled said holding was the most egregious faux pas. The most outlandish form of cheating witnessed were cheap shots and deliberate injuries at 52% It’s safe to say Bountygate would register as a bigger offense to those polled when compared to under inflated footballs.
Question twelve asked the percentage of players they think actually cheat on field which came up at 30%. The final question asked the player if they thought their teammates had cheated; 71% said no, whereas 29% said yes.
Overall it seems that although not every athlete cheats, in the NFL skirting the rules and gaining a competitive advantage is not something that angers many players. Does this ESPN survey prove the Patriots are cheaters or that deflategate is overblown hyperbole? No, it just proves that for some “if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.”