I watched the Super Bowl the other day like the rest of America.
I had no horse in that race --- America's Team had been eliminated and I am nothing if not a good American --- but had decided after "deflategate" that I wanted Seattle to win.
And they had the game. Then they made a horrible choice to throw the ball against a good back seven in a compressed area instead of running it in vs. a weak run defense. They compounded the poor decision by throwing the ball into the heart of the defense. They went after an average to poor defensive back they had abused for much of the game.
This player appeared to sense what was coming and with no hesitation, made the play of his career, beating the wide receiver to the spot and intercepting the pass.
As someone who was cheering for Seattle and thought that they proved themselves the better team that day, it was a Scott Norwood-esque moment in Super Bowl history. I felt sick to my stomach as the better team again lost, but I chalked it up to just a fantastic read and the football gods. It happens sometimes in the Super Bowl.
And Pete Carroll has blown his share of championship games.
But over the last few days the loss hasn't sat right with me.
It finally clicked last night.
What did the Patroits get punished for a few years back? Stealing play calling signals.
Did Malcolm Butler diagnose the play or was he told the play was coming? While one wants to give a player the benefit of the doubt, given the caliber of this player and the history of the Patriots, what seems more likely?
Did the Belichick Patriots steal the call on the biggest game of the season?
Did they ACTUALLY steal a Super Bowl win?
I don't know.
I do think the NFL has to do their due diligence and look at the lead up to that play.
So what if they did cheat? Man that is a mess.
If it happened on the NFL's main stage it could cripple both future Super Bowls and NFL ratings.
I know it is an absolute clusterfuck for the league if they did. What if Vegas finds out the Pats cheated? One casino owner in Vegas admitted he had to pay out $140 million over that play. Multiply that by every casino in Vegas.
Do they try and get their money back from betters? Do the casinos sue the NFL? How long would the NFL want that story in the press????
And collectively Vegas can make it difficult on the NFL. What if a collection of casinos stop taking action on Pat games? What would that say about the NFL? What would it do to NFL fandom?
If the Pats did cheat, I have an idea how I would handle it.
I do know the NFL had cameras everywhere. If I were NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, I would have people take a very close look at that video. If I found something I would sit down with Butler for a very intense conversation.
I would see if I could get a video confession out of him to be shown to the fewest people possible --- maybe the competition committee and Robert Kraft. They will all be sworn to secrecy. All of them have a lot to lose if it gets out.
I would strongly consider a cover-up.
Now anyone who read my last post might have their head explode because I am advocating a cover-up.
You have to remember, Goddell is the head of a private industry group. Unlike the leadership at Penn State, his responsibility is strictly to private individuals--- the NFL owners ---not the public. (I am discounting the Green Bay ownership situation as that is effectively still individuals buying in on a private entity.) He doesn't have to do a damned thing for the public.
And this isn't going to lead to kids being sexually abused like Penn State University's decision absolutely did.
I am about justice, or the closest thing to it. I am all about involved parties getting punished. And that may be best met in that way.
You cannot reverse a Super Bowl without horrifically damaging the NFL brand.
Remember deflategate is still being investigated.
If the Pats stole a Super Bowl and you have video evidence to show Kraft, you have the leverage to make Kraft eat whatever penalty you decide for deflategate vs. possibly being "Donald Sterling-ed" by the NFL.
The option to protect the NFL brands, if this gets out, is to dump Kraft. Given that basic truth, Kraft would likely take the punishment.
Brady and Bellichek banned for two years at the twilights of their careers? (Maybe the Brady one being negotiable.) Pats losing 3 consecutive first round picks? They are multiple offenders and Goddell has a rep for being heavy handed. Fans outside of New England would accept that as business as usual.
If this happened it, it would be an appropriate punishment. Happening right after the Super Bowl would create an appropriate scar on both of their careers.