Devil’s Advocate: How Patriots “Legally Cheated” And Best Way NFL Could Punish Them For DeflateGate

Image Credit: @TrekBikes

Disclosure: I am huge Patriots fan who was born & raised in New England. So while my loyalties remain with Brady & the Bunch until the bitter end, this is an attempt to via my beloved team from a “haters” perspective.

What originally started (or rather gained publicity) from a tweet…

…has erupted into a unsportsmanlike fracus best described as Deflate Gate in which Patriots are accused of deflating the American football (not to be confused with the international football aka a US soccer ball) in order to gain an unfair advantage over every NFL team.

In theory a deflated football would be easier to throw & catch, as well as harder for a defender to punch out of the arms of any receivers, running backs, et al.

So if Patriots Coach Bill Belichick wanted to secretly deflate the footballs sans sorcery or hiring Sith lords, how would he do it‽

Answer: Science!

However, the NFL found that 11 of the Patriots 12 balls were “underinflated by about 2 pounds each.” In order for a ball to register a 10.5 PSI in a 50 degree environment but register a 12.5 PSI in the testing environment, the ball would have to have been inflated, stored, and/or tested in a 91 degree environment.

Schmaltz reasons that “about 2 pounds” means that the balls were likely somewhere in the 1.6-2 PSI below standard range. In that case, the balls would have to have been inflated, stored, and/or tested in an environment that was at least 82 degrees. (via

If Patriots used science to get sneak around the PSI (aka Pounds per Square Inch) rule inside a hot room then Belichick would technically be following the letter of the law while violating the spirit of the law (or the rule’s intent).

Truthfully there is no rule stating that NFL footballs have to be tested outside (although there should be!).

However if NFL wants to restore trust in ball integrity in the future (& not just the upcoming Super Bowl) then they need to make this a requirement!

Punishing The Patriots

For the sake of argument let’s say my beloved Patriots were cheating yet the NFL lacked any hard evidence proving that New England broke the rules.

Instead of various fines (which are insignificant to millionaires), loss of draft picks (which is irrelevant as Belichick can turn average players into super stars) the NFL should:

  • Ban Patriots from providing their own footballs to be tested for play (minimum: 1 year, max: indefinitely)
  • Only allow Patriots to use brand new untouched factory footballs for every change of possession (constantly swap footballs out with measurements)
  • Delay of entry into hall of fame for players/coaches until 10 years after retirement from league

To my knowledge most quarterbacks hate using new footballs the same way most baseball players hate using new gloves: its not very malleable in the hands.

Although imposing fines & removing draft picks would annoy the Patriots, implementing ball penalties & delaying hall of fame entry would get their attention—as well as help ensure that this type of behavior never happens again.

Note: This is a Devil’s Advocate post. See top for details.