Ballghazi is eight days old and looks it may go on forever, but maybe you don’t have the kind of time to devote to the descent of this story into the new Scopes Trial.
So let me help – because I am the helpful type.
1. The New England Patriots deflate balls, or are so inept at explaining why they don’t that they’re out of responses after, “But you have to believe us. We’re us.”
2. They can do this by a coach or player telling the equipment guy, “Too much air. Do what you gotta do.”
3. They don’t like being singled out as cheaters because as they well know, nearly every team in every sport at every level of organized sport will bend any rule that looks bendy.
4. They have been clearly distracted by the rain of abuse, so much so that they have forsaken the old team sports mantra, “It doesn’t matter what other people say about you. Don’t read the papers.”
5. They have resorted to lying to protect themselves, and they stink at lying because they think the power of their words is in and of itself sufficient. And because this is the National Football League, everything they do say is parsed and edited and checked for accuracy.
Hence, the scientific debate of the epoch is the nature of air in an enclosed space, between Bill Belichick and his bachelors in economics and Bill Nye and his bachelors in mechanical engineering.
Now if it were a debate about how much money is the right amount, I’d go with Belichick. I mean, he reeks of money, all because he is an exemplary football coach – which means that he is better than most coaches at the most important part of coaching, which is doing anything to anything to achieve a competitive goal.
But since it’s science, Nye has to win, unless there is proof that because he came from the Pacific Northwest, he has been bought off by Paul Allen.
And now that we’ve established that the Patriots’ only plausible defense here is that they’re just the ones who got caught exceeding the normal cheating levels other teams are more careful to adhere to, we can move on to the greater and more troubling truth.
That once again, the National Football League has failed at its core responsibility – bringing you football.
The league, which has essentially puked all over itself all year long, is finishing with a grand flourish – with a new investigation by its growing army of compromised mall cops which will end in an inconclusive result, a vague punishment to the Patriots for being the Patriots, and one more link to the ultimate goal.
A sport run by the people in HR.
The custody of the playing spheres is now no longer to be trusted to club employees. The league will have to hire security goons to stand over the balls with guns drawn in every city, and an army of league-mandated equipment guys and scientists to fill, check and hermetically seal all the balls. The replays will be more frequent and last longer. The rulebook will receive nine new additions, and the games will last exponentially longer while the officials spend entire lunch hours in the replay tents. The legal department will triple in size while contract negotiations will end more unpleasantly than ever.
And for their part, the players and coaches will whine incessantly about not being able to deliver blows to the head with the head any longer, about the pathological protection of quarterbacks reaching a new level with trained taser snipers at the stadiums rims, the supremacy of the math nerds and the marketers and the bureaucrat class, and worst of all, the growing power of the owner who thinks he (or she) knows more football than the people who have only spent their lives at it.
In short, the entire game will be a giant metaphor for Marshawn Lynch grabbing his gentleman’s era, and 2014 was when it all turned bad.
Frankly, Ballghazi is the perfect NFL scandal because, unlike Ray Rice, et. al., this is plain stupid. The others were evil because they involved domestic violence, cover-ups, tampering with witnesses and the league’s crushing arrogance. This is idiotic because it deals with defiance of science, crappier cover-ups, tampering with balls and one team’s inability (or quite possibly outright refusal) to lie convincingly among a confederacy of liars.
It is also the latest installment of Hell’s Super Bowl, and it will end with a disappointing game lying in a festering heap of smoldering oily rags and Al Michaels turning to Cris Collinsworth and asking on air before the entire world, “So, do you feel dirty?”
And Collinsworth responding, “Just for the last five hours.”
It really is that simple once you apply the rules of logic, time and space, laws of physics and the football man’s inveterate need to tell three bad lies to avoid one truth, and to act like a debauched emperor with a sleep disorder and universal contempt for those around him while doing it. It would be a cautionary tale if anyone in the NFL understood that concept, which none do.
And somewhere, Bill Nye will reflect upon his own contribution to our national shamefest and wish he were just like Galileo.
As in, dead for the last 373 years.