HBO’s Bill Simmons had Batman and Boston boy Ben Affleck on the premier of his new show Any Given Wednesday and the two discussed the mummer’s farce that is DeflateGate.
The video is essentially Affleck ranting for 95% of the five minute video, with Simmons looking slightly uncomfortable and chiming in, “right!” and “yep!” every so often. Simmons is far more natural in his podcast segments and he probably would look a lot more natural with a microphone on the table in front of him.
The majority of the discussion felt like two people were breaking down DeflateGate from June 2015, instead of with what we know in June 2016 with the appeals process and full examination of the data under our belts.
There’s one part, though, that warrants further attention.
“Another thing, that taking football from a warm place to a cold place, finding out that there might be a whisper less air pressure in those balls-” Affleck started to say.
“It was like 8% less,” Simmons interjected.
And that’s a common issue when understanding DeflateGate- and it misses a key point that makes a much stronger argument than “it wasn’t even that big of a decrease in pressure!”
1. The decline was way, way, waaaaaay less than 8%
Based on the two separate gauges, the footballs were found to be at an average of 11.11 PSI and 11.49 PSI. According to Exponent’s findings, the footballs were supposed to land within 11.32 PSI and 11.52 PSI. This means that the footballs were either: a) measured exactly how they were supposed to; b) came in 0.21 PSI below expectations.
0.21 PSI below expectations is less than 2% below expectation. That’s a far smaller drop than 8%. And when you factor in absolute pressure, the drop is less than 1%.
2. The drop is based on unrecorded data
All of the mathematical figures are based on the idea that every single football started at 12.5 PSI at the start of the game. Based on what we know about these refs, that was unlikely. The refs admit on page 3 of the Wells Report that they noticed the Colts wanted the footballs at 13.0 PSI, but approved the balls at a range of 12.8 PSI to 13.1 PSI. That’s a range of 0.3 PSI before the game even started.
We also know that the refs admit an accidental 13th football for the Patriots so they weren’t really on top of their game.
Essentially, there’s an expected margin of error that comes with using any of the data since the starting points were not recorded.
3. The drop is on AVERAGE and the range is far wider than the perceived decline in pressure
So let’s say that there was a drop in pressure of 0.21 PSI. Are we meant to believe that Brady is so picky with his footballs that he asked the ballboys to intentionally deflate the footballs by 0.21 PSI?
And if so, remember that the 0.21 PSI drop is based on an average of the footballs. The actual footballs were found to be at a range from 10.5 PSI to 11.85 PSI- a range of 1.35 PSI, far greater than the 0.21 PSI Brady is apparently so picky about.
We’re meant to believe that Brady was so intentional with the football manipulation down to 0.21 PSI, but didn’t care enough that the end result was a range nearly seven times larger?
Saying that the drop was “only 8%” still implies that there was an intentional change in pressure, but asks the audience to acknowledge that it is such a small difference. But it gets everything wrong. The drop was far smaller and this drop is based upon a major assumption of initial pressure.
And at the end of all of it, looking at the averages buries the fact that the actual alleged decrease in pressure is far less than the final range- all but destroying any concept of intent on Brady’s part.