The NFL is America’s Game, and yet it’s losing again.
I am exhausted from Deflategate. I am sick of talking about pounds per square inch, game balls and air needles.
The NFL has had six days to figure out what to do with the mobster Bill Belichick and his New England Patriot minions.
Commissioner Roger Goodell either has no idea, or he’s scared.
Either way, he has failed.
Both teams fly into the Phoenix area on Sunday for Super Bowl XLIX. And since this story still hasn’t been put to bed, the questions will linger like milk in the sweltering desert sun.
We heard Belichick mumble his way through a pseudo explanation. And we heard Tom Brady say plenty of words without saying anything at all.
And what’s even worse is that the NFL can quickly throw a $20,000 fine at Marshawn Lynch for grabbing himself before strutting into the end zone. Or it can prevent Lynch from wearing gold shoes in the NFC Championship Game, or fine players for not having the correct sock length.
But when it comes to being credible and adhering to rules that actually affect a game, that’s when the NFL has problems. They must have learned its enforcement practices from the NCAA.
The AFC Championship Game was not compromised because 11 of 12 game balls were lighter than normal. That game could’ve been played with balloons or beach balls and achieved the same result.
The problem I have is the blatant arrogance the Patriots are showing. They didn’t need to cheat to beat a one-dimensional Colts team to advance to its first Super Bowl since the 2011 regular season. And obviously the score showed it with a dominating 45-7 win.
But the Patriots just don’t care. After seeing what Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson went through earlier this year, they know that the NFL doesn’t know how to police its product or its players.
The reason this is a big deal is because it’s the second time that the Patriots have been caught. This is when Goodell can send a message to the rest of the league by saying if you cheat in my league, there will be deep consequences.
There are still many questions about Spygate, but since the majority of evidence from that 2007 calculated transgression has been destroyed, doubt still remains.
The Patriots have advanced to the biggest game in sports. A 30-second TV spot will run $4.5 million, players from the winning team will get $97,000 while the players from the losing team will bring in $49,000.
The game doesn’t just decide a yearly champion, it is also a tremendous financial windfall. For a league that has a goal of $25 billion in annual revenue by 2027, you would think that it would do more to protect its brand.
They could start by getting tougher with the officials. Why didn’t they monitor the game balls before and after pregame check? And why didn’t they notice that the balls were lighter during the course of the game?
Get the players and coaches accountable. Suspend Belichick and Brady two games next year. Even if Belichick was telling the truth when he said he didn’t know what was happening, the quarterback knows what game balls his team is providing. And by the time you get to the ultra-competitive NFL, the feel and grip of a ball could determine how long and successful your stay in the league is.
Finally, the league must provide all game balls. Hire someone to inflate the balls, put them in a bag and watch them for the entire game. If a team is allowed to bring its own balls, I would be surprised if there weren’t other teams that didn’t compromise the air pressure.
The Patriots may look like the pariah in all of this, but the joke is on the NFL. The rest of the league is laughing at the shield for not protecting itself and maintaining the public trust.
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn