The date was January 18, 2015. The New England Patriots hosted the Indianapolis Colts for the AFC Championship game, and the Patriots drubbed the Colts 45-7. While this loss was embarrassing for the Colts, the next two years of embarrassing behavior by the NFL, by the Patriots, and by Patriots fans was far more embarrassing. This was the birth of the PSI scandal known as “Deflategate,” and the culmination of the event will happen this Sunday with Super Bowl LI.
The Patriots have a history of skirting the rules or flying too close to the sun on creative interpretations of the rules. There was Spygate, wherein the Patriots were caught videotaping the opposing teams’ sidelines to determine their defensive play calls. They got a slap on the wrist and had the evidence destroyed by Commissioner Goodell’s office. There was the kerfuffle with barely legal formations against the Ravens in the playoffs (that are now illegal) the week before deflategate. This, combined with a brazen mixture of disobedience and outright contempt towards the investigation led to Roger Goodell dropping the hammer: four-game suspension for Brady, fines, and the loss of a first-round draft pick.
The unforeseen consequences? The ranting of tens of thousands of members of Patriots Nation. Every suspension, every fine, every single time the commissioner sneezed, a Pats fan was there to remind him that they had done their golden boy dirty. The Patriots fans are so wrapped up and consumed in their never-ending hatred of Roger Goodell for punishing the Patriots, that they take personal offense and slight that he won’t attend their games anymore because they feel it is their right to be able to berate him, yell at him and taunt him.
It was prevalent everywhere. Twitter, ESPN comment sections, entire sites built their reputation on being petulant children with regards to Brady, Goodell and Deflategate. You couldn’t read anything about the NFL without a Patriots fan popping you and reminding you about Deflategate.[Sean2]
Now the Patriots take on the Falcons in Super Bowl 51, and it is a definite possibility that Goodell has to shake the hand of the man that he suspended for four games, and the man who destroyed his cell phone rather than produce potentially damning evidence. Patriots nation will be appeased. Goodell will kiss the ring (if Putin doesn’t already have dibs on it).
Let’s make a deal Patriots fans: if the Patriots win Sunday, and Goodell is present to give Brady, Belichick and Kraft the trophy, let’s call it quits. No perceived slights, no Zaprudering the footage to see that Goodell disrespected your Holy Trinity. Just leave it be. Call it quits on the Deflategate braying all over social media. You won. You defeated Goodell. Deflategate will be put to rest, and you will get your opportunity to gloat.
No more constantly bringing it up, no more bringing it up in entirely unrelated conversations. Just let it be. If you don’t win the Super Bowl, fine, continue your crusade. If you win, how about you win with grace and do the thing you haven’t been able to do for two calendar years: shut up and let us have some peace and quiet about Deflategate… forever.