All posts by Patrick R. Diggins

NFL: If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying


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

“no biggie“.

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.”


NFL: Worst. Circus. Ever.

featured image: Google search  

 Earlier this week the Tom Brady appeal hearing transcript was released. Inside a number of things came to light but mostly character details regarding those involved in this three ring circus.

NFL: Goodell Makes Money For Owners
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell source

For instance, we learned Troy Vincent is incredibly ignorant when discussing the deflation of footballs due to atmospheric conditions. Apparently Roger Goodell has terrible hearing for a man his age and will often request those he’s questioning to repeat answers a number of times. We learned that Tom Brady has no idea what a soft football feels like, just the overall texture of the ball itself. We were made aware that it is perfectly acceptable for the NFL to pay Ted Wells to conduct an “independent” investigation because, by golly, somebody has to pay him. Let’s not forget that Lauren Reisner, Ted Wells’ deputy, actually assisted the NFL during the hearing by cross examining Tom Brady. Clearly everything here is on the up and up.

There was a whole bunch of ridiculousness on the NFL’s part and more specifically Roger Goodell during this appeal process, however, Tom Brady did not come out unscathed  either. Brady insisting he did not know much about football psi prior to the October 2014 over inflation fiasco game against the New York Jets , seemed disingenuous at best. How could a man who spends so much time preparing a football not have any idea how much air he prefers inside said football? There is no legitimate proof of wrong doing in this situation but even the most ardent supporter of Brady must realize he knows how he likes his footballs.

It wasn’t all bad for Tom, although the cellphone destruction was a little bit odd on the date that he planned to meet with Ted Wells but it was hardly the proverbial “smoking gun” the NFL wants you to believe they have. Dumb and suspicous? Sure, but all it does is give the rest of the country outside of New England more reason to hate Brady, not clear evidence that he did something wrong. Quite frankly, given the release of his emails this past week, it’s no shock Brady destroyed that phone. The Peyton Manning themed email claiming no.18 had maybe “two years left” and Brady claiming to have “seven or eight years left”, I’m sure has caused him a slew of backlash.

It was particularly interesting that discipline was never implied by Ted Wells when Brady refused to hand in his phone. Patriot lawyers told him not to do so, but Tom said if he knew trouble could come due to this he would have absolutely had handed it in. Wells agreed he never told Brady that there would be discipline for this particular lack of cooperation. Roger Goodell must have had trouble hearing that.

Brady stating that he did not know Jim McNally’s name until deflategate makes total sense. As told in the transcript, Brady signs things all the time and there’s always lots of people in the locker room. It’s quite easy to believe that he would know Jim McNally’s face and not his name.
Roger Goodell at one point claimed that part of his decision to uphold Brady’s suspension rested on the unusual fact that Brady and Jastermski spoke quite a bit after the AFC Championship game. Brady gave sound reasoning for this, stating that the Super Bowl was two weeks away and also that the world was suddenly discussing the Patriot’s deflated footballs! Roger was unsatisfied with this answer. The Commissioner clearly entered this without already having made up his mind.

Roger Goodell is a desperate man and has chosen Tom Brady as his scapegoat and virtual “get out of jail free card” for the Ray Rice scandal that went so horribly wrong for him. Overall these transcripts help us to learn that the entire appeal process was a gigantic circus with our beloved commissioner of the NFL as the ring leader or was he the clown?

The Super Bowl After Glow that Wasn’t

Every New England Patriots fan can still remember THAT catch from Super Bowl 49.

I’m not talking about Malcolm Butler, I am referring to Jermaine Kearse. The Kearse catch took an improbable comeback story and nearly squashed it in the flukiest way possible. Why address a travesty that almost was? That Kearse catch is a perfect metaphor for every Pats fan’s 2015 offseason.

Jermaine Kearse caught a ball from Russell Wilson long after the Patriots assumed the play dead. It bobbled in the air, bounced off some limbs and seemed to place the Patriots in the losers column. After coming so close to sewing Super Bowl 49 up, New England now had to deal with this new unlikely circumstance.

Since 2007, all Patriots fans have heard from just about any fan of any NFL team was that the Patriots cheated, and that they were fans of “the Cheatriots.” The most commonly asked question seemed to be “Why haven’t you won since Spygate?” which bellowed from everyone who was quick to point out how the Patriots couldn’t get it done without cheating. The 2014-15 New England Patriots finally had an offense and defense that looked like it could get the job done. Despite a lackluster two and two start, the Pats abused the Bengals in week five and never looked back. The Patriots played exceptional football and gave hope to many that finally, the Patriots we’re ready to get their fourth ring.

After winning the AFC Championship, the Patriots were ready to squash their doubters and regain the respect of the league, then came the “Kearse catch” known as Deflategate. Suddenly, New England, who had spent the entire season showing everyone that Brady still had “it” and that they were ready to move forward from the tarnish of Spygate, had a new enemy. This enemy robbed New England fans of the offseason glory they dreamed about since their team had been flummoxed long ago with camera themed controversy.

during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.
To compound the lunacy of Deflategate, free agency was about to land a huge left hook to Patriots nation. Patriots fans were treated to the loss of their entire cornerback squad. The once lauded Darrelle Revis returned to the New York Jets, leaving Bellichick and company to quickly jettison Brandon Browner and not too long after Kyle Arrington. The loss of Revis cannot be understated as he is an exceptional athlete and possibly the best defensive back in the NFL. Browner and Arrington were complimentary pieces that no longer seemed to fit.

Things did not get better for Pats fans. Soon the Wells report was released, and it was followed by the most outrageous penalty in NFL history. In one fell swoop, the Patriots lost their 2016 first round draft pick, their 2017 fourth round draft pick, $1,000,000 and 4 time Super Bowl winning quarterback Tom Brady, for the first four games of the season.

As the new NFL season finally approaches, Pats fans are left with the same gnawing, aching feeling of thievery they received after Kearse made that clumsy catch. Patriots nation was so very close to the end of Spygate and all the negativity that came with it, only to have Deflategate bobble its way into the collective consciousness of the other 31 teams and their fan bases. Respect is bigger than any Super Bowl or any championship, it’s something that every team wants and every fan needs. The big question is, will the 2015-2016 season bring to Patriot fans the “Malcolm Butler interception” that they all crave?

Three Little Birds: The ballad of Tom Brady

Removing the rose colored glasses from a New England Patriots fan’s face, July twenty eighth looks pretty bad. Four game suspension upheld. Tom Brady reportedly destroyed his cell phone on the day he was was asked to turn it in. Everybody outside of New England thinks Tom Brady is a cheater. The opportunity for an injunction being granted allowing Brady to play until a definitive judicial decision can be made, is in doubt. The sky is falling in the six states of New England.

It is fitting that the day after Shane Victorino leaves the Red Sox that the song “Three little birds”, by Bob Marley, in which Victorino is so closely identified with, encapsulates so much. In actuality, even though the thought seems ridiculous, every little thing is going to be alright. Tom Brady will always be one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game of football. No amount of tuck rules, spy gates or deflated footballs will stop that from being fact.
Is Tom Brady a cheater? Perhaps. Destroying his phone doesn’t scream innocent but what if he did bend the rules? What if Tom Brady knew that the footballs were being tampered with after the officials checked them? What does it change? In short, not a thing. In essence it makes him human. It paints a picture of a man willing to cut corners in order to achieve ultimate success. Winning is clearly everything to him. Has Patriot nation not lauded this man for this very reason over the last fifteen years?
What pains many people in the New England area is the very idea that their quarterback is looked at as less than perfect. It’s as though acknowledging that all this drama could be fact, suddenly allows for Peyton Manning to cease choking in big game situations or the New York Jets will be more respected. Skill and precison make Brady a fantastic quarterback, not the opinions of NFL message board trolls.
Facts need to be admonished. Regardless of what can be overturned, thrown out or proven in a court of law, the court of public opinion believes that Tom Brady is a cheater. If it were Eli Manning or Ben Roethlisberger in the same situation, New England fans would feel as the rest of the country does about Brady.
Although this situation stings quite egregiously at the moment, history looks back on athletes in a filter which usually represents them in the best possible light.Nothing Tom Brady may have done will ultimately change his incredible legacy.
My advice is to weather the storm, embrace the hate because if it wasn’t “cheater” fans in other regions would have another name or excuse to prod Patriot nation with. In the end, every little thing truly will be alright.

In the NFL, Success Breeds Contempt

Professional football is a fickle beast. When you’re at the bottom of the competitive ladder, any move you make is scrutinized by your fan base and lambasted by the media. Championship success of course is the ultimate goal, giving way to universal respect among your colleagues, fans, and critics. Sadly there is such a thing as too much success.


The Pittsburgh Steelers in the 70’s, the San Francisco 49ers in the eighties, the Dallas Cowboys in the nineties, and the New England Patriots in the 2000s, have all gone from plucky underdogs to beloved winners and ultimately to the team all other fan bases love to hate. The NFL survives on the concept that any of the 32 teams, if comprised properly, can win the Lombardi Trophy. When one team gets a little too successful it breeds contempt amongst their rival fan bases and of course it ruins the concept in which the NFL is built upon, one in which anybody can win.


The New England Patriots are currently the team that all others love to hate. It started long before Spygate and Deflategate were part of public conscience, after creating the NFL’s most recent dynasty, the Patriot’s winning ways were examined a bit closer. In 2004, the NFL’s competition committee severely altered the amount of clutching and grabbing a defensive player could administer due to the unbridled success of Belichick’s gritty defense. The change in defensive rules once again gave way to a more even playing field. Despite a ten year drought of Super Bowl championships, the Patriots continued to be a dominant force in both the regular season and the playoffs. In today’s NFL the Patriots current level of success cannot be. Last season’s incredible run by New England has once again given way to rule changes and unprecedented decision making by the NFL.


After the 2014 divisional championship was determined and the Patriots had used a variety of trick plays to defeat the Baltimore Ravens, the latter team cried foul and once again the rules have been altered in the interest of “competitive fairness.” We are all aware of the current bucket of overreaction that is Deflategate and the amount of crying that is come from Colt’s owner Jim Irsay despite his team being handedly defeated regardless of ball air pressure. Were the footballs under-inflated in the AFC Championship Game? Yes. We’re both sides using under inflated footballs? Yes. In fairness, New England’s footballs were of course (shown to be) far more under inflated than the Colt’s balls but given the situation both teams should have been penalized to some degree.  The intercepted pass from Brady in the AFC Championship game was checked for psi. on the sidelines by Colts personel. (Documented in Wells Report). Indianapolis Colts are not as successful currently as the New England Patriots so that was not the case at all. At the time of this writing, Indianapolis still has all their draft picks next year, no fine, and their star quarterback for the first 4 weeks of play. I’m not saying the punishment should be the same for both teams but at the very least the Colts should have been fined for an equipment violation.

Recent news has both Jim Irsay and Raven’s owner Steve Bisciotti chief among a handful of influential owners attempting to swing Roger Goodell’s decision making skills in their favor, in regards to Tom Brady’s appeal of his four-game suspension. Only in the wacky world of the NFL does this type of behavior get both reported and tolerated. Why is this madness tolerated? The NFL wants the New England Patriot’s success to come to an end, as it’s best for business.

At the end of the day the New England Patriots are currently the victims of their own success just as they are the victims of their own wrong doings. In a football world where rules are changed to suit your opponent’s needs and punishments are handed out based on unqualified suspicions, the Patriots are still a successful franchise. The question isn’t if but when the NFL Will win the war and restore parity among their league.