It’s almost like Troy Aikman isn’t even reading this blog anymore:

“If ignorance is no excuse, and it wasn’t for Sean Payton. …[The Saints] did not give themselves a competitive advantage. Now twice, under Bill Belichick and possibly a third time, they’ve cheated and given themselves an advantage. To me, the punishment for the Patriots and/or Bill Belichick has to be more severe than what the punishment was for the New Orleans Saints.”

God, where do we even start with this one? Here are some loosely organized thoughts in bullet point form:

  • This is yet another instance of comparing something unfair but relatively innocent (i.e. deflating footballs) with something that has much larger personal/social implications (i.e. targeting players with intent to injure, offering cash incentives for such targeting)
  • I love the insistence that “Bountygate” (again, can we stop with the -gates?) didn’t give the Saints a competitive advantage — as though targeting the other team’s players and trying to knock them out of the game isn’t an advantage of some kind
  • The Patriots were already punished for their previous “cheating” instances — this doesn’t make them right, per se, but it’s hardly like New England got away with anything here
  • Again — again! — I feel compelled to mention that intentionally targeting, hitting and attempting to injure opponents with dubiously legal play, and then offering financial rewards for such actions that go beyond/outside of their contracts is FAR worse than whatever nebulous impact using deflated footballs would have, especially since:
    • The Saints’ bounty system was systemic and far-reaching, not limiting itself to specific opponents/games, and
    • Deflated footballs only impact a small portion of the game, i.e. the offensive portion, and it wouldn’t mean anywhere near as much in different climatic conditions, and furthermore
    • The suspensions for the Saints’ bounty system came after a much longer investigation in which numerous figures on the coaching staff, including Sean Payton, were found to have been implicitly involved the whole time — put another way, there was considerably more evidence and far less plausible deniability for the Saints
  • There are so many ways that the Patriots’ footballs could have been better tracked/looked after, before and during the game, and while it’s not like the officials are really to blame for this, their “negligence” (if you can even call it that) has to be considered a factor

I get it, guys. The Patriots cheated. They’re a bunch of cheating cheaters who are about as good at figuring out creative ways to cheat as they are at playing football to begin with. Cheat cheat cheat cheat cheat cheat cheat, that’s all they do. They should re-brand themselves as the New England Konami Code, because they’re such famous cheats. They should make their new logo a man catching his wife in bed with another man and get Kobe Bryant to be their new mascot, since they love cheating so much.

But please, can we at least try to keep some perspective here? There’s just no comparing this to a bounty system, or to Ray Rice/Greg Hardy’s domestic abuse, or to Adrian Peterson’s child abuse, or to Penn State’s entire situation. It’s not even shades of gray — it’s a different color entirely. Come on, Aikman et. al. We’re better than this.


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