Oh, hey, that Wells Report thingy came out today. You remember it, right? That super serious investigation into whether or not the Patriots knowingly deflated footballs before the AFC Championship in January. It seems like we’ve been waiting on the results of this report for months. And with May being a slow news month for the NFL after the conclusion of the Draft, you had to figure it was more probable than not that the report would come out soon.
Rather than listen to ESPN’s stable of ex-NFL players who have an axe to grind with the Patriots produce a lot of hot air about this topic, I decided to write out some thoughts for anyone who wants a rational take on all this. Here are five random thoughts about the news that broke today and five modest predictions for the Patriots’ 2015 season:
- I can once again rely on the pulse of all my Patriot-hating friends to decide how bad this looks for New England. Because without a doubt, if there is even a minor shred of evidence that somebody cheated, these people will come out of the woodwork with a thousand nasty things to say about the Patriots, Brady & Belichick’s legacies and the legitimacy of past Super Bowl wins. And you know what I’ve heard so far? Nothing. Not. A. Thing. It’s been hours since the story came out and all I’m hearing is crickets.
- If you did take to Twitter to laugh at and takedown Pats fans, that just tells me that you didn’t bother reading any of the report. You simply saw a headline that said “New England ‘probably’ deflated footballs.” But if you read the report, you’d notice that the general gist is that they couldn’t find any true evidence of tampering or anyone of significance ordering the balls to be messed with, but they can’t imagine it happened any other way so they just assume there’s foul play.
- Is “more probable than not” the weakest stand someone can take on a matter? When picking a side, is refusing to pick and staying neutral more of a stance than saying “more probable than not?” They couldn’t say things like “we strongly believe” or “there’s overwhelming evidence” because they have absolutely not conviction in the result they came up with. This is the SOFTEST conviction in the history of convicting.
- Listen, when the Patriots were found guilty of taping opponents’ sideline signals in ’07 (an act that had only become illegal a few months prior to that incident), they may not have agreed with all the results of that investigation but they stood up and took their punishment, and didn’t cry foul. Obviously they have no intention of doing that this time, assuming Belichick, Brady and everyone else follows the blueprint their boss just laid out for them.
- Remember when I wrote that the NFL purposely let the DeflateGate accusations leak and did nothing about it after the AFC Championship game because they wanted to own the news cycles during that week off before the Super Bowl? Well here we are again. Why did this report take 100 days to come out? Because this was the best possible time for the NFL to use it to keep dominating the news. A week ago we had the NFL Draft to take up all our time. The week before that was the Greg Hardy suspension news. If you go back week by week to the end of the playoffs, you’ll find that significant news or rumors have come up on an almost-scheduled basis so the NFL never went away for long. Well since the draft is over and people have moved on from reading post-draft material, it was time to get us all to turn back to the NFL Network or click on ESPN.com’s fresh takes on this news. Any sort of punishment coming from this report will take about a week, I’m sure. As soon as the collective media’s most recent erection over this topic starts to soften, the NFL will take action.
- And let’s not sleep on the fact that the Patriots are now so polarizing that the NFL gets its biggest villain in a long time for an entire season. Even Patriots/Jaguars and Patriots/Titans will draw huge ratings and interest during the 2015 season. This is the most perfect result possible for the NFL. How convenient.
Predictions for the season:
- The ceiling has been lifted on the upcoming Patriots’ season. The Broncos set the record for most points in a season with 606 in 2013. I’m predicting a modest 950 points for the Patriots in 2015. I know a lot of times we pump up the concept of athletes going into Eff You mode more than they actually follow through with it, but remember that there’s an exact precedent for this when it comes to the Belichick/Brady Patriots:
- Don’t expect Patriots fans to be even remotely rational this year. We’ve tried to use logic & reason with you people over the entire 14 years that you’ve hated New England. But no more. We’re going to meet your irrational stupidity with our own irrational stupidity. The Patriots are going 19-0. They’ll outscore every opponent 60-0. Tom Brady is Jesus. Bill Belichick is god. Our team has the undisputed greatest QB of all time and greatest coach of all time. Even with the league office, the referees and every fan base conspiring against them, the Pats will be hoisting Lombardi #5 next February.
- I may exaggerate slightly with my predictions on how many points the Pats will put up in 2015, but whatever you do, please, please, PLEASE make sure you clear your schedule for Sunday, October 18th, at 8:30pm Eastern. That is when the Patriots will take the field in Indy for the greatest revenge game in sports history. If the Patriots are favored by anything less than 28 points, I’m putting everything I’ve got on them. Only two games in NFL history have featured a team scoring more than 70 points. I think the Patriots make it three on October 18th.
- The biggest losers in all of this are the Pittsburgh Steelers. They were already dealing with playing against the Patriots in New England on opening night when the Super Bowl banner will be raised and the fans will be frothing at the mouth over the start of Super Bowl run #5. Now you also have to be the first team to face a pissed off Patriots team?
- The NFL won’t dare to seriously punish the Patriots. Sure, NFL, you could punish the Patriots for all of this circumstantial evidence, but do you really want to provoke them any further? You screwed with them during the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl (which, by the way, they won behind 4 Brady touchdown passes against the best defense in the league) and now you’ve soiled their reputation with this nebulous report. If you don’t want your 2015 season ruined by a runaway train known as the Eff You Patriots, you’ll stop short of any real punishments. I think you should heed the advice of my favorite TV villain:
As inappropriate as it would be for the league to suspend Brady for a game or two at the start of the season, I almost want this to happen so that when Jimmy Garoppolo leads the Patriots to a 2-0 start behind a pair of blowout wins, the rest of the NFL can freak out about how good New England will be even after Brady retires in 11 years.