Brady and the Patriots: Still struggling with Deflategate

AFC Championship Foot_Schu(6)
Tom Brady being interviewed following the 2015 AFC Championship game.

Author: Robert Diamond

Like the shadow that follows you during the sunlight, the Patriots and their 4-time Superbowl winner and 3-time Superbowl MVP, Tom Brady, just can’t seem to leave “Deflategate” behind. Deflategate, or “ballghazi” was a controversy in the 2015 AFC Championship game when the New England Patriots played the Indianapolis Colts. In this controversy, the NFL regulations require footballs to be inflated 12.5 to 13.5 pounds per square inch of internal pressure; however, due to pressure-temperature law their is a positive correlation between temperature and pressure.

In Layman’s terms, this means if the Patriots were to inflate the ball to the minimum 12.5 psi in a room-temperature or warm room, immediately before being measured by the referees, as the game progresses and the ball gets colder (an almost guarantee in the New England weather in January) the ball’s pressure will drop significantly below the requirements.

When these allegations were first brought against the Patriot’s in the weeks following their victory, sides began to emerge and debates were formed. While many quoted that the deflated balls gave a clear advantage to the Patriot’s ability to grip the ball, catch, and inhibit fumbles others argued this advantage being transferred to the Colt’s ability to intercept the ball.

Regardless of the arguments, the Patriot’s triumphed over the Colt’s 45-7 with 177 yards of rushing (to their 83) and 220 yards of passing (to their 126). Whether the deflated balls helped in this large margin of victory was debated feverishly, but as the Patriot’s went on to win the Superbowl many cried that this Superbowl was tainted by this controversy, while others blamed the controversy for distracting the Patriot’s in their weeks of preparation. 

The NFL decided on May 11, 2015 it was time to take action regarding this controversy by suspending Tom Brady for four games (along with various other fines for the Patriots). After Roger Goodell, the Commissioner of the NFL, upheld the appeal of this suspension in an internal appeal, the Patriot’s and Tom Brady took the matter to federal court where Judge Richard M. Berman turned over the suspension due to legal deficiencies. The Patriot’s thought this would be the end of it as they went on to play a good season, but losing to the Superbowl Champion Broncos in the playoffs:

It wasn’t.

April 25, 2016, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals under a panel of three judges reinstated Brady’s four game suspension for the 2016 season. The four games Brady would miss are: Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans, and Buffalo Bills. Returning in week-5 against the Cleveland Browns.


While it is possible that Brady and the Player’s Association can appeal this again to the same panel or appeal it further to the Supreme Court while requesting a stay of the suspension, neither seem likely. The costs for both sides make it seem fairly likely that a settlement will soon be reached possibly reducing the number of suspended games.


Beyond a potential settlement, the Patriot’s look to put this “scandal” behind them. How will the Patriot’s fare without their star-QB? The last time the Patriots were Brady-less, Matt Cassel brought the team to an 11-5 record in 2009 which happened to be short of playoff qualifying, but would be better than Brady’s 10-6 record the year following.

Jimmy Garoppolo, Tom Brady’s back up from Eastern Illinois College


Can Jimmy Garoppolo, Tom Brady’s backup, take the reins of the Patriots and lead them to victory for the games Brady is suspended? Only time will tell if a settlement reduces the number of games, and this may be a good indication of the team’s ability to perform without Brady, as his looming retirements draws closer.


Hopefully this new decision will put Deflategate in the past and have it be just another line masked on the Patriot’s Wikipedia page by all their victories.


Author: sportswille

Reformed ad agency guy. Sac Kings, PGA Tour, Pebble Beach, Aspen yielded fascination with sports business. Now teach at my alma mater, University of Texas Austin: Integrated Marketing, Social Media, Business and Law and Sports Audiences. 40 year streak of single digit handicap under severe pressure.

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