DeflateGate: a few quick thoughts for the no harm/no foul crowd

I’ve spent the past couple of days listening to pundits, casual fans and Patriot-backers emphasize, in the strongest terms possible, that it didn’t change the outcome. Some go a tad further, suggesting that it doesn’t matter if Belichick tried to cheat, so long as the outcome wasn’t unaffected.

This line of “reasoning” is at once mind-boggling and completely predictable here in post-sportsmanship America. So let’s take the principle and test it by applying it to other situations.

Understand, we should get rid of all conspiracy laws. It’s not a crime to try and commit a crime.

  • A guy shoots at you and misses. No harm, no foul.
  • A masked man tries to rob a bank but is foiled by the security guard. Set him free, because no money was actually taken.
  • An undergrad punk drugs a coed’s drink so he can rape her, but her friends drag her out of the party before anything can happen. It’s cool – he never got near her panties.

And what about Squeaky Fromme?

On the morning of September 5, 1975, Fromme went to Sacramento’sCapitol Park (reportedly to plead with President Gerald Ford about the plight of the California redwoods) dressed in a nun-like red robe and armed with a Colt M1911.45semi-automatic pistol that she pointed at Ford. The pistol’s magazine was loaded with four rounds, but there was no cartridge in the chamber. She was immediately restrained by Larry Buendorf, a Secret Service agent. While being further restrained and handcuffed, Fromme managed to say a few sentences to the on-scene cameras, emphasizing that the gun “didn’t go off.” [emphasis added]

They locked her up for 34 years. What’s up with that?

I could go on. And on. And on. But I won’t. Because I don’t need to.

And before you get all righteous and point out that murder and football are different things, sit down and shut up. We’re testing the logical and ethical structure of your principles. You can explain how that’s different later if you like. I look forward to walking you situation by situation through a wonderland of examples to see if you can articulate exactly where the lines are drawn.


  • I have a more fundamental problem with this argument. I’m not sure it didnt change the game. Not only were the Patriots catching some impossible to catch balls in horrid weather (Vereen for the third down, Gronk for the touchdown,) but Indianapolis had balls bounce off their hands repeatedly.

    The stat line was thoroughly in favor of NE, but part of that was caused by Indy having to play desperation ball to catch up. The two stats that matter, in terms of changing the course of the game, are third down conversions and turnovers. Indy was 3-11 on third down, NE was 12 for 18. Reduce NE’s to the same percentage as Indy’s and that’s 20 points off the board, and less need for Luck to sling the ball into double coverage and get picked.

    Even if you do think Indy would have lost anyway (and I do, because they were a dome team playing on the road in the winter) it’s hard to argue that the Ravens didn’t get jobbed the week before.

    When Steve Young and Jackie McMullan chant the mantra “didn’t-change-the-outcome,” I discount it because this is the NFL, where tame media are part and parcel of Football, Inc, sticking close to the party line less they lose access and therefore their livelihood. Yeah, sure it didn’t change the outcome, but we’ll never really be sure will we?

  • OK, Beli-cheat is sufficiently shaken that he actually is civil, answers questions at a press conference and denies it. So the question is if he’s innocent, who did it? The obvious pick is Brady, since Brady is on record as liking to throw soft footballs and QB’s have pulled this stunt before.

    However, not so fast my frined. Who do we know that’s on the staff and has a history of cheating?

    Why, Josh “Skippy” McDaniels!

    • No, Skippy is more of a videography cheater.

      • so you think there’s a secret org chart at the patriots, Head Cheater in Chief, SVP Media Cheating, SVP Physical Cheating, SVP Rules Cheating, SVP Pharmaceuticals, SVP Tampering (Blount)?

      • Pro football is about specializing. So the guy in charge of video cheating may have no clue about deflating football cheating.

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