Tom Brady and deflated games?....
Start with the "Unfair Acts" section of NFL Rules Digest (emphases mine):
The Commissioner has sole authority to investigate and to take appropriate disciplinary or corrective measures if any club action, nonparticipant interference, or emergency occurs in an NFL game which he deems so unfair or outside the accepted tactics encountered in professional football that such action has a major effect on the result of a game.
No Club Protests
The authority and measures provided for in this section (UNFAIR ACTS) do not constitute a protest machinery for NFL clubs to dispute the result of a game. The Commissioner will conduct an investigation under this section only to review an act or occurrence that he deems so unfair that the result of the game in question may be inequitable to one of the participating teams. The Commissioner will not apply his authority under this section when a club registers a complaint concerning judgmental errors or routine errors of omission by game officials. Games involving such complaints will continue to stand as completed.
Penalties for Unfair Acts
The Commissioner’s powers under this section (UNFAIR ACTS) include the imposition of monetary fines and draft choice forfeitures, suspension of persons involved, and, if appropriate, the reversal of a game’s result or the rescheduling of a game, either from the beginning or from the point at which the extraordinary act occurred. In the event of rescheduling a game, the Commissioner will be guided by the procedures specified above ("Procedures for Starting and Resuming Games" under EMERGENCIES). In all cases, the Commissioner will conduct a full investigation, including the opportunity for hearings, use of game videotape, and any other procedures he deems appropriate.
NOTE: All penalties are keyed to whether the conduct in question could affect the result of a game. The "Player Conduct" section in the Official NFL Playing Rules does not impose any obligation on players to disclose infractions to officials (or anyone else). So long as Tom Brady did not direct the deflation, he did not break any rules whatsoever.
Then there is the "Extraordinary, Unfair Acts" section in the NFL Official Rulebook (Rule 17, sec. 2); it closely tracks the above Digest language, but adds suspension of a player to the commissioner's portfolio. The 2014 Rule Book prescribes 12.5 - 13.5 lbs. pressure per sq. inch for footballs; 11 of 12 Patriot footballs used in the first half were 2 ounces light, a 15 percent discrepancy.
Here is a satirical ad on Brady's proclaimed innocence.
Former NFLers scoff at QB Tom Brady's protestations of innocence, including several QBs:
“I listened to Bill Belichick and I believed every word he said,” eight-year NFL pro Matt Leinart told The Post. “Not once did a head coach ever have any input in that. It’s strictly a quarterback-to-equipment-manager thing and that’s pretty universal. Those are the only two guys that have any part of that process.
“You go through the whole bag and you literally handpick them and say, ‘This one is good, this one’s too hard, put a little bit of air in that one, take a little bit out. … It’s a full 20-minute process to make sure on Sunday you have the exact football you want to be throwing. Quarterbacks are very, very picky about how they want their ball and that goes on everywhere.”
Leinart, now an analyst with Fox Sports, said he saw numerous things done to balls in his career, including being rubbed with varying substances and thrown in dryers, to get the right feel. He said he didn’t consider it cheating because “every team doctors up the ball to the liking of their quarterback” and that while deflation would help
Petty forms of cheating are, essayist Joseph Epstein reminds us in a WSJ op-ed, a commonplace in professional sports:
So pervasive is cheating in professional sports that it has all but become part of the game. Some cheating has been on the grand scale. One thinks first of the use of steroids by baseball players, whose chemically aided achievements have bollixed up the statistical records on which baseball may almost be said to be based. Much earlier, in the 1950s, there was point shaving, arranged by gamblers, in college basketball, the great sports scandal of its day.
College football and, only a bit less, college basketball have long been riddled with cheating. The cheating has taken different forms, among them violations of recruiting, alumni slipping money to athletes, coaches helping to fix players’ course grades.
More and more, though, cheating in sports has been about securing small advantages. Such items include baseball teams positioning people in the bleachers with binoculars to steal the opposing team’s catcher’s signals to his pitcher. Or basketball players flopping to the floor in the hope of attracting charging fouls. Or tennis players trying to slow an opponent’s momentum by toweling off after every point. Or scuffing baseballs with emery boards or using Vaseline, spit or other substances to alter the flight of pitches. Under-inflating footballs is a new twist in a long tradition of taking small but real advantage. Some might think it gamesmanship. It’s cheating.
Deliberate fouls are not only condoned; they are admired as smart plays in some circumstances. I recall in 1961 when during the 37-0 rout of the NY Giants by the Green bay Packers for the NFL championship, Packer DB Jess Whittenton, beaten long by Giant split end Del Shofner, tackled Shofner to prevent a sure TD. Whittenton stayed in the game.
Epstein laments cheating, noting the vast sums of money in sports--in reality-a business--as exemplified by sports producer Don Ohlmeyer's response to a journalist who said he had a question to ask: "Mr. Ohlmeyer is reputed to have replied: “'If your question is about sports, the answer is money.'” Epstein then writes: "If competition gave sports its pleasure, sportsmanship—utter fairness and generosity of gesture under the pressure of competition—is what gave sports its grandeur."
A famous instance from Olympic history illustrates Epstein's salute of the ideal. In the 1936 Berlin Olympics star long-jumper Lutz Long helped American superstar Jessie Owens defeat him in the long jump. Owens had fouled his first two of three qualifying jumps. A third foul would have eliminated him from the finals. Long walked over to Owens and suggested Owens jump a foot behind to line to avoid a foul; Owens still would easily qualify for the final. Owens did so, and went on to win the final with an Olympic record jump that stood until the 1960 Rome Games. Long put his arm around Owens as they walked around the stadium, no small risk given Hitler's malevolent presence.
In his 1977 teleplay "Professional Foul" playwright Tom Stoppard explored the ethics of deliberate "professional" fouls. He concluded that arguably in extreme cases--such as resisting totalitarian oppression-- such fouls, normally wrong, could be justified. This is hardly, however, Tom Brady's case. His foul was not, strictly speaking a "professional" foul, as it was not designed to keep the opponent from scoring on a specific play, but rather to gain surreptitious competitive advantage.
Bottom Line. Brady and/or his coach, Bill Belichick, appears to have either conspired or acquiesced in a form of cheating that conferred upon their team an unfair competitive edge. But it was not serious enough, per NFL rules, to call for forfeit or replay of the game. It likely will, if a formal league finding of wrongdoing is issued by the commissioner, lead to some post-Super Bowl penalty--fine(s) and/or forfeiture of team draft choices. As for higher principles, in a "sport" that is in reality a huge business, these likely will be studiously ignored, regardless of potential impact on impressionable children and on public perception of the integrity of the game.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, Conservative Politics