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DeflateGate and the Road Not Taken

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The NFL's commissioner believes that the Wells Report will be completed shortly. Let's imagine a world without indecision.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

- Robert Frost

The NFL's commissioner, Roger Goodell, believes that the DeflateGate report will arrive in short time. Tedd Wells is turning over every stone, and looking into every bathroom stall, to review this situation from every angle. He will be checking to see if the Patriots deflated the footballs, or maybe if the Colts did it. He's reaching out to everyone to determine if it's a widespread issue in the league. He's trying to find if New England habitually crossed the line. He's investigating the league's leaks to see how and why misinformation continued to drip out of the league's sewers and into the streets of public opinion.

We know that the NFL decided not to question Patriots quarterback Tom Brady until they collected more information. We know that the let this cyclone of a story destroy any and all positive narratives that could have surrounded this Patriots team during their post-season run. We know that this matter has become a running joke because either no one cares or everyone does the same thing or wait, seriously, this is just dumb or of course the league wants this to be the narrative for the Super Bowl, instead of the rampant questions of mental health and domestic violence.

Imagine if the league nipped this whole situation before it exploded outside of the football bubble and into the mainstream consciousness. Imagine if the league and their investigators stood up and acknowledged or shut down the continuous rumors to set both the record straight and to contain the nuclear fallout.

Imagine what the discussion would be if the league took a different path; a road that the league has voluntarily ignored, and even covered with underbrush, time and time again.

Of course, Frost's The Road Not Taken is often misconstrued as a celebration of deviating from the social norm and walking a unique path of life. Instead, it's more about the personal justification for decisions made in retrospect. It's about how easy it is to ignore what's placed in front of you in order to validate your actions. The narrator in Frost's poem finishes by saying they took the road less traveled by, even though they already stated that travelers had worn both paths really about the same.

This whole DeflateGate nonsense ignores what has been laid in front of everyone in order to justify the claim that either the Patriots are totally innocent or the Patriots are sharing beds with the Devil.

From the first step, Bill Belichick explained what had happened. He explained that yes the Patriots used footballs below the limit, but that it was unintentional. It's as open-and-shut as the recently resolved tampering charges against the Jets. The Patriots were in violation of breaking a minor rule.

We simulated a game day situation in terms of the preparation of the football and where the footballs were at various points in time during the day, or night, as the case was Sunday... That process, we have found raises the PSI [pounds per square inch] approximately one pound. That process of creating a tackiness, a texture – the right feel, whatever that feel is, it’s just a sensation for the quarterback, what’s the right feel.

When the footballs are delivered to the officials locker room, the officials were asked to inflate them to 12.5 PSI. What exactly they did, I don’t know. But for the purposes of our study, that’s what we did. We set them at 12.5.

We found that once the footballs were on the field over an extended period of time, in other words, they were adjusted to the climatic conditions and also the fact that the footballs reached an equilibrium without the rubbing process, that after that had run its course and the footballs had reached an equilibrium, that they were down approximately one-and-a-half pounds per square inch. When we brought the footballs back in after that process and re-tested them in a controlled environment as we have here, then those measurements rose approximately one half pound per square inch. So the net of one and a half, back to a half, is approximately one pound per square inch, to one and a half.

Now, we all know that air pressure is a function of the atmospheric conditions. It’s a function of that. If there’s activity in the football relative to the rubbing process, I think that explains why when we gave them to the officials and the officials put it at, let’s say 12.5, if that’s in fact what they did, that once the football reached its equilibrium state, it probably was closer to 11.5.

Belichick explained the above in his impromptu Saturday, January 24th, press conference. Regardless of intention, the impossible-to-follow-due-to-scientific-reasoning rule was broken.

Yes, the Patriots used deflated artificially inflated footballs. No, it was not intentional. Yes, the Patriots likely used said footballs in the past because it was their process. No, the refs didn't record any of their measurements so there's no proof. Yes, it's still interesting that the Colts were in possession of the only football that deviated from the pressure Belichick outlined in his explanation. No, the Patriots shouldn't be fined with anything beyond the minor fee laid out in the rulebook because, yes, they did violate the rule.

From the first week of this horrible exercise of bad math, faux outrage, and vindictive reporting, the answer was in front of everyone, and it was provided by Belichick. The league is going to be spending the next few weeks justifying how and why they handled this process in such a poor fashion, just like how everyone on both sides of the are the Patriots guilty? line will ignore the facts to support their own narrative. It's just how it works.

We are all inclined to disregard facts and reason in favor of emotion. It would have been preferable if the league was able to contain, instead of magnify, the rage and animosity generated from a middle school science experiment.

Imagine if the league came out and validated the science. Or if they made a statement on all of the leaks from within their walls. Or if they clarified that this issue is not on par with BountyGate, or tampering with another team's players, or wearing different cleats and socks than what are league approved.

It would have made all the difference.