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Saturday 16th Dec 2017

There is some pretty serious stuff going on in the world these days. ISIS. Boko Haram. Climate Change. Charlie Hebdo-like attacks. 

So, it was good the major news outlets had "Deflategate" to fall back upon the last week's worth of reporting cycles.

Now, I do love football. I love watching the game, thinking about it, and playing fantasy football. And, with times seeming uncertain with thoughts of terrorism and unflinching weather et al, it is good to have distractions like football. Because again, the game is fun and exciting, and gives us a mental respite from external strife and pressures.

But honestly, I have so many questions about Deflategate, the first of which is "Who Cares?"

Well, apparently everyone, as the controversy has been among the lead stories on MSNBC this past week, picking up the slack from Charlie Hebdo and Boko Haram, who were the leads the previous couple of weeks.

Seriously?

Don't get me wrong. I am not a fan of cheating. In fact, I don't really even understand it, for winning or succeeding by cheating cannot be particularly satisfying. Well, at least if you have a conscience, it isn't.

Maybe I am stupid, or naive, or even both.

But, my understanding has been that each team's footballs are given to the referees a couple of hours before the game, and are then weighed and secured. I may be wrong, but my understanding is that the refs then control the footballs till the end of the game.

Granted, the footballs do get switched out, and fall to the sidelines, so finding the specific problematic football is sort of like finding the shell with the pea under it.

Even so, the game moves fast enough, and there are enough cameras that if someone was monkeying with something, at least above ground, there must be a record of that.

If the balls were being mucked with at halftime, or secreted downstairs for some form of manipulation, even that would be hard to cover, and if nothing else, suggests some kind of inside job beyond the poor Assistant Equipment Manager who will now get fired for this horrible civic transgression. That way the Patriots, the League, hell, the entire NFL, and their fans can feel justice has been served.

Me, I am pretty suspicious of any wrong doing.

Why?

If the weight differential was so great as reported, how come no one noticed? I mean, it isn't as if when the Patriots used their footballs, the Colts and refs never had cause to pick one up and hold it for a second or two.

I remember hearing once that Jim Palmer would ask for a new baseball if there was anything he did not like about the feel of one of the spheres. Sometimes, he would return them to the ump without even using them, asking for a replacement. Apparently one ump, trying to test Palmer, sent the same baseball right back after a Palmer rejection, and the pitcher threw it back yelling, "I just gave you that one back."

OK, maybe Palmer's sense of touch is extra sensitive, but we are talking over 100 folks, among both teams and coaches, and the referee squad, and not one of them noticed? Over three hours, and hundreds of hands, that hold the same article five-to-six days a week, and not one person can tell that maybe there is a 10% differential on the weight?

Additionally--and I have driven this one to death on Twitter--there is no body of statistics that I know of where all footballs are weighed after the game. If that is true, the numbers rumored are meaningless, because there are things like altitude and weather, that compounded with play (and football players play pretty tough by most of our standards), could knock around the weight of a football.

More than anything, though. I think this is a byproduct of our stupid predilection with reward as a society. Everyone gets a trophy on every little league team, always. If we lose our cool, it is because of a medication being taken, or pressure at work, or any of the litany of excuses we hide behind in order to avoid responsibility.

Mind you, I am totally for rewarding and positive reinforcement, but similarly, I think we all need to learn how to accept defeat and disappointment, as they are even more common to most of us as part of life than are triumphs.

The outrage of "Deflategate," as I see it, is not so much about anything other than the "how could I/we lose?" in the Mitt Romney sense, and the inability to embrace the fact that on that day, someone else was better, or more popular, or simply a better choice.

I do think that if the NFL is going to go to the trouble of weighing footballs before the game--and unless I am incorrect and that post-game weighing process does exist today--that maybe starting that process to see what a normal post-game weight for a football is, might not be a bad idea.

But, I more think, like Lawrence Tynes said the other day, "LeGarrette Blount could have been running with a two-liter bottle of Coke and it wouldn't have made any difference."

So, please, please, stop giving this issue air.

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