BY: OLIVIA VARNSON
(Gainesville, Ga.)– The National Football League’s Super Bowl will take place Feb. 1, 2015 between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks. The Super Bowl has become much more than a championship game. Every year, billions of dollars are spent to land an advertising spot during the game and the halftime shows are sometimes more memorable than the game itself. This year, however, the Super Bowl has been overshadowed before it’s even begun.
The American Football Conference Championship Game on Jan. 18 ended with a resounding victory for the Patriots over the Indianapolis Colts. The final score 45-7 indicated the Patriots were clearly the better team.
They may have had some help, though.
Late Sunday night, when Patriots fans were celebrating and Colts fans were commiserating, a source reported to news outlets that the Patriots apparently used overly deflated footballs during the game.
The NFL rulebook states that game balls must be inflated between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds of air. Before every game, each team must provide 12 balls they plan to use so that they can be tested.
During the game between the Patriots and Colts, one of the Patriots’ balls was taken off the field and out of circulation, but that is not uncommon.
Deflating footballs is thought to increase grip control. Given the rain that occurred throughout the AFC championship game, deflating balls might have helped the Patriots throw, catch and hold onto balls that were probably slippery.
Both the Patriots coach Bill Belichick and star quarterback Tom Brady deny the reports but promise to cooperate fully with the NFL’s investigation. If the NFL finds that deflated footballs were used to gain an advantage, the Patriots could lose future draft picks.
Social media discussions of “#deflategate” have criticized the lack of transparency from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
The investigation is ongoing but the NFL has only offered vague updates. Many think this delay of information is by design. If the investigation has not reached a conclusion before the Super Bowl, no one can fault the NFL for allowing the Patriots to play without punishment.