Tom Brady Cannot Stop
January 27, 2015 7:19 AM   Subscribe

Ahead of Super Bowl Sunday, the New York Times Magazine's Mark Leibovich dives deep into Tom Brady, one of the "most famous [people] in the world nobody knows," and finds a man "bent on nothing less than subverting the standard expectations of how long a superstar quarterback can play like one." Meanwhile, questions continue to swirl about whether the Patriots deflated balls in their playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts -- and if so, how and why, with Coach Bill Belichick appearing to point the finger at Brady, the superstar quarterback himself. Others question the Deflategate/Ballghazi hype.

"Unburdened by diplomacy or loyalty to anyone but his son, the original Tom Brady did not hesitate. 'It will end badly,' he said. 'It does end badly. And I know that because I know what Tommy wants to do. He wants to play till he’s 70.' He noted the drafting of Garoppolo and said the Patriots smartly didn’t want to be 'caught with their pants down,' as the Colts were when Peyton Manning was injured a few years ago. 'It’s a cold business,' the senior Brady said. 'And for as much as you want it to be familial, it isn’t.'"
posted by sallybrown (255 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
In addition, football data analyst Warren Sharp asserts that not only is the Patriots' recent prevention of fumbles nearly impossible but furthermore that they mysteriously became fumble-proof in 2007 after Tom Brady lobbied the NFL to revoke its rule that required home teams to provide game balls for both teams.

For those who follow the spectator sports industrial complex only inasmuch as it provides scandals for mainstream news, the Patriots seem to be an unusual supply of good fodder.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:31 AM on January 27, 2015 [10 favorites]


I'm looking forward to watching the Seahawks wipe the floor with this pack of whiners and cheaters.
posted by codacorolla at 7:36 AM on January 27, 2015 [25 favorites]


My favorite part was all of the "physics" arguments about how the balls just deflated because they were pumped in warm-air. 2015 is not the first year ever that football has been played, and the Pats.-Colts games wasn't the first cold weather game ever - I have a hard time believing the support staff had never heard of this phenomenon.
posted by rosswald at 7:36 AM on January 27, 2015


I'm super skeptical of that fumble analysis. He seems to do a lot of excluding of data that doesn't support his thesis.
posted by empath at 7:37 AM on January 27, 2015 [7 favorites]



For those who follow the spectator sports industrial complex only inasmuch as it provides scandals for mainstream news, the Patriots seem to be an unusual supply of good fodder.

That is a good description of how I follow football, and yes, this team certainly seems to appear often in this kind of semi-shady context.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:38 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is inspired more by Kobe than Brady, but I really wish people would stop dissing stars for playing in their twilights. Are you telling me that you wouldn't keep playing the game you love for a huge contract to save your "legacy", whatever the heck that even is? Blame Jeanie Buss for that ridiculous contract if you want, but if I'd achieved my dream I can tell you they would have to drag me off the court.

(I think it's really funny that I stopped watching football this year due to the overall sleaziness and the first game I end up watching, due to being stuck at my in-laws, was the Ballghazi game.)
posted by selfnoise at 7:39 AM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


I know something for sure about Tom Brady. His hair looks really dumb sometimes.

33 Times Tom Brady’s Hair Looked Really Effing Stupid

Also, Tom Brady isn't a "science computer!" (Taran Killam as Tom Brady is hilarious.)
posted by discopolo at 7:39 AM on January 27, 2015 [8 favorites]


Belichick's second press conference presented a convincing theory about how this could have happened naturally. He and the owner Kraft have both unequivocally denied any wrongdoing by any member of the organization.

It's hilarious too. He basically openly insults the reporters. ("We're not polishing fine china here.") References My Cousin Vinny.

(His theory, btw, is that they significantly abrade the footballs before the game, and this friction caused in their testing enough of a temperature increase to produce the pressure drop.)
posted by vogon_poet at 7:41 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Empath, I found the Sharp article convincing, but I'm only barely mathematically literate. Can you explain what you mean? I thought all that was excluded were the teams that played in a dome. Do all of those team show a huge post-2007 improvement in turnover rates as well?
posted by the christopher hundreds at 7:41 AM on January 27, 2015


presented a convincing theory [...] His theory, btw, is that they significantly abrade the footballs before the game, and this friction caused in their testing enough of a temperature increase to produce the pressure drop.

Convincing to people who don't understand physics, maybe.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:42 AM on January 27, 2015 [8 favorites]


My favorite part was all of the "physics" arguments about how the balls just deflated because they were pumped in warm-air.

My Dad, who is a retired engineer, apparently did some quick calculations to show that there could be a significant pressure drop if the balls were inflated at 70 F, and then used in 40 F temperature; I think about three quarters of a pound is what he figured (although I don't know all his assumptions, and if they were correct). So I asked him why only New England's balls had that pressure drop, and not the other team? That he couldn't answer.

Whatever happened with the footballs, the fact remains that New England is a good team that also appears to be looking for every edge it could get. They didn't need to spy on the Jets the year they were caught doing that (I mean the Jets were what? 4 & 12? A poor team, at any rate), but they did it anyways. So they are going to be watched with suspicion, especially in a year where the league has had enough off-field scandal.
posted by nubs at 7:47 AM on January 27, 2015


the christopher hundreds, one slightly weird thing is excluding teams whose home stadium is enclosed, rather than looking at games played by all teams in non-enclosed stadiums, since even teams whose home stadium is open will play in domes for many of their away games.
posted by dorque at 7:48 AM on January 27, 2015


//So I asked him why only New England's balls had that pressure drop, and not the other team? That he couldn't answer. //

Has anybody checked a cross section of footballs at halftime of a cold weather game? There is no control group here. We know 11/12 footballs used by The Patriots two weeks ago were under-inflated at halftime. Maybe it happens all the time, but the interception football had a slight leak and that triggered all the footballs being double-checked, maybe for the first time ever. We don't know that the Colts footballs didn't lose pressure, only that they didn't drop below the minimum. If the Patriots are inflating only to the minimum to start, any loss of pressure puts them under the threshold.

Also, the Patriots outscored the Colts 24-0 after halftime with different footballs, so any argument that they gained an unfair advantage in the game is difficult to sustain.
posted by COD at 7:54 AM on January 27, 2015 [9 favorites]


So I asked him why only New England's balls had that pressure drop, and not the other team?

Did they ever test the Colts' balls? I've never actually seen any statements from the league that said they had, and the last time I was paying attention to this stuff (about a week ago) several commentators were specifically noting that this lack of comparison was odd.
posted by firechicago at 7:55 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I love how both Bill Nye and Neil Degrasse Tyson have been called upon to debunk Belichick's theories. If only we listened to them more about climate change!

Meanwhile, the fact that Tom Brady can't get a high five is one of my favorite things. /not a Pats fan.
posted by TwoStride at 7:55 AM on January 27, 2015 [8 favorites]


At this point, even to a non-football-follower like me it's very, very clear what's going to happen: the entire Patriots organization from the owner on down is blaming everything on the one low-level employee who was in charge of carrying the balls around.... Belichek, Brady, and everyone else will all continue to claim total ignorance of malfeasance; it's all the fault of that one probably-near-minimum-wage dude.

My only question is, what kind of payoff are they going to give the ball guy when they publicly "fire" him?
posted by easily confused at 7:59 AM on January 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


the christopher hundreds, one slightly weird thing is excluding teams whose home stadium is enclosed, rather than looking at games played by all teams in non-enclosed stadiums, since even teams whose home stadium is open will play in domes for many of their away games.

This is true, and I'd like to see how the rates of all teams changed following the new ball-handling rules. It would be useful to see indoor game vs outdoor game rates. I'd bet the choice to exclude dome teams was made to avoid having to go through every fumble and assign it to a "dome" or "al fresco" game rather than that it screwed up the point Sharp was trying to make. But maybe not. Hopefully this gets enough interest that someone puts that data together.

I suppose the explaining away Sharp does with the 2013 season (one six-fumble and another four-fumble game for the Patriots in somewhat freakish conditions) could also lend to the conclusion that he is trying to shape the data to fit his conclusion. I'm still not convinced he did. Even including those games the numbers presented look damning.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 8:00 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


The NFL is a nice microcosm of American society. Fine Marchawn Lynch for obscene gestures that had no effect on the game (while selling pictures of the same gestures), warn him about not participating in the media charades after the game, don't let him wear golden shoes. Year long suspensions for all players caught with a little weed, even in states where it's legal. Throw a guy out of the league despite no actual charges filed by the actual legal system.

But a credible allegations of institutional cheating against the marquee franchise of the 2000s? Or a team that hides evidence of domestic abuse? An owner caught stoned out of his mind in broad daylight? Too big to fine, Too big to fail. Order some ridiculous farce of an investigation as a whitewash, rail about accountability, but conclude no one was at fault, who could've possibly predicted?, hope the public forgets. And we do, the 10$bil printing press keeps on turning. Shift the attention to back Beast Mode, warn him about same old same old little things that don't matter and fine Richard Sherman for pointing out the hypocrisy.

Belicheck is a favored son of the Owner class, and the Owner class is made up of the same untouchable billionaires who are immune from all repercussions in broader society, much less the corporate facade of the society that is the Goodell-o-verse.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:02 AM on January 27, 2015 [52 favorites]


This contains a tweet that says the Colts' balls were checked. Of course, it also says the Colts were the ones who raised the issue with the NFL prior to the game, so they knew going in there could be someone watching.
posted by sallybrown at 8:02 AM on January 27, 2015


Also, the Patriots outscored the Colts 24-0 after halftime with different footballs, so any argument that they gained an unfair advantage in the game is difficult to sustain.

No, the argument that it gave them an unfair advantage that changed the outcome would be difficult (I'd say impossible) to sustain. The Patriots were the better team on that day, and regardless of whether they used regulation footballs, beach balls, or rainbow trout, they would have won. That doesn't mean that they didn't gain an unfair advantage -- it just means that advantage wasn't decisive in that game. It also raises the question of how many times they've gotten away with this kind of thing in the past, and how much of an advantage it gave them in any other games where they used under-inflated balls.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:03 AM on January 27, 2015 [12 favorites]


I feel about this "scandal" the way some people feel about reality TV. For those who haven't been obsessively following it, here's a summary: in the AFC championship game, there was a problem with Tom Brady's balls. They weren't firm enough. The investigation is ongoing, but currently the theory presented is that somebody was rubbing them too much before the game.

Belichick started out by saying "I personally have no knowledge of wrongdoing", setting things up so some poor ballboy would have to take the fall. But as of now, he's claiming he is personally confident that no wrongdoing occurred by anybody in the organization. And Kraft actually doubled down and demanded an apology. So they aren't exactly doing shady damage control.
posted by vogon_poet at 8:03 AM on January 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


My only question is, what kind of payoff are they going to give the ball guy when they publicly "fire" him?

Well, for one, he'll never pay for a drink in New England.
posted by Aizkolari at 8:04 AM on January 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


the nfl hasn't said anything last i checked - that's why kraft demanded an apology from the league, because this has all been driven by leaks (haha) and innuendo.

also, speaking of kraft and the league, this gq article about goodell is interesting and goes into the relationship between goodell and kraft, something that richard sherman weighed (haha) in on.
posted by nadawi at 8:08 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm sure the NFL is so busy looking into how it can do better with respect to domestic violence investigations that it doesn't have time to worry about underinflated oh shit I can't even.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:12 AM on January 27, 2015 [8 favorites]


oh and if all you want out of this is brady discussing his balls, here's a supercut of just that.
posted by nadawi at 8:12 AM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


no one has ever said the colts balls did not deflate as well, just that they were still legal. If the pats inflated their balls to 12.5 and the colts to 14.5 and the balls all went down 1-2 psi that could explain why the colts balls were still legal.

also this whole controversy is silly, the pats outscored the colts 28-0 in the second half with fully inflated balls.
posted by slapshot57 at 8:13 AM on January 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


This would be so much less of a thing if the Pats, and specifically Bellichek, hadn't already been caught cheating back in 2007.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:14 AM on January 27, 2015 [8 favorites]


Two points. One, I fucking loathe the Patriots, and two, this is the dumbest fucking nonscandal ever.
posted by echocollate at 8:14 AM on January 27, 2015 [14 favorites]


Also if they didn't win all the time.
posted by vogon_poet at 8:15 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Go Hawks!
posted by The Hamms Bear at 8:17 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


But why would they cheat about something so stupid that is not likely to be all that helpful? Once an organization like this is shown to be a "cheater" it (fairly or unfairly) colors everything else they do. So why risk it for freaking deflated balls, especially if they are so dominant that the balls don't matter?
posted by sallybrown at 8:18 AM on January 27, 2015


according to all those leaks and innuendos, the colts knew something was hinky with the balls during their last game - if that's true, we're not talking about one completely lopsided game where the patriots stomped the colts - we're talking potentially all their games.

i think this controversy is dumb, but i also think belichick and his whole organization push the bounds of the rules all over the place all the time and i think belichick is a liar when he says he didn't know anything about the process before last week - i'd frankly be surprised if someone wiped their ass in that facility without having belichick tell them the correct way to fold the tp.
posted by nadawi at 8:20 AM on January 27, 2015 [7 favorites]


Tom Brady is fascinating to me because he doesn't seem like a person who should actually exist in the real world, but only in the mind of a young boy imagining his future fantasy life. Model good looks, the most successful quarterback of his generation, married to one of the most most beautiful women on the planet. I'll admit, I always root against the Patriots if only because I don't think it's fair for one guy to have it that good.
posted by The Gooch at 8:20 AM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


They're constantly doing things at the fringe of legality for the league. I'm assuming that since it's always met with a shrug and "boys will be boys" the organization feels that it can get away with pretty much anything. Every once in a while one of their cheap little maneuvers blows up into a scandal. My theory behind this is that Bellicheck is a deeply petty and awful person.
posted by codacorolla at 8:21 AM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


I favor the theory that Bellichek tasers anybody who drops a ball, causing Pats players to have a severe conditioned aversion to fumbling.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:21 AM on January 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also, it's a fucking hoodie, don't cut the sleeves off of it, you fucking slob.
posted by codacorolla at 8:22 AM on January 27, 2015


Keith Olbermann weighed in over the weekend and managed to work in references to both Airplane! and A Christmas Story.

The commissioner has the power to fix this if he wanted to. But he doesn't want to, he'd rather target Lynch for not going through the kabuki with the press.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:22 AM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


72 degrees F is 542 degrees Rankine. 50 degrees F [approximate field temperature at start of game] is 520 Rankine. Ratio is 95.9%.

12.5 psi is 27.2 psia. At 50 degrees, that equates to 27.2 * 95.9% = 26.1 psia, which is 11.4 psi gauge. So that's a little over 1 psi difference. "Sources say" that only 1 ball was 2 psi low; the others were around 1 psi low. Which would be expected if they were measured while cold.

Also unclear what the resolution/accuracy is on the pressure gauge they use.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:22 AM on January 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


Growing Pats
posted by The Gooch at 8:22 AM on January 27, 2015


So why risk it for freaking deflated balls, especially if they are so dominant that the balls don't matter?

The Pats aren't "so dominant that the balls don't matter." They're certainly an elite NFL franchise, but they haven't won the Super Bowl in 10 years, and this may be one of their last chances with Brady at the helm. You look for whatever advantages you can when you're in the playoffs against other elite teams, and whether the inflation matters that much, we've learned from the coverage of this "scandal" that the players certainly think it does.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:22 AM on January 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


So why risk it for freaking deflated balls, especially if they are so dominant that the balls don't matter?

The Patriots are a good team and have been for a while, but they're not steamrolling every team and they haven't won the Super Bowl in a decade. People also cheat all the time in cases where they would still win. Barry Bonds is a hall of famer without ever having used anything. Nixon was never going to lose the 1972 election. These things aren't necessarily rational.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:24 AM on January 27, 2015 [8 favorites]


Am I off-base here or is "Ballghazi" kind of in poor taste? Yeah, it's in reference to the conspiracy theories and not the incident that sparked them, but... still.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 8:24 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't know if you're off base, but a discussion of whether you are or not is probably going to derail things away from football and toward politics, which probably isn't what anyone wants right now.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:29 AM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


tonycpsu: “You look for whatever advantages you can when you're in the playoffs against other elite teams, and whether the inflation matters that much, we've learned from the coverage of this ‘scandal’ that the players certainly think it does.”

I think perhaps we've learned from the coverage of this "scandal" that the Colts rightly predicted that any cheating allegations against the Patriots would find great traction, no matter what the scope, particularly if they timed it just right – and that the players will obviously go along with that if it gives them an excuse to find fault with an opponent and thereby stand out ahead of the big game.
posted by koeselitz at 8:29 AM on January 27, 2015


You know who loves this scandal and can't get enough of it? Ray Rice.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:29 AM on January 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


Tom Brady is fascinating to me because he doesn't seem like a person who should actually exist in the real world, but only in the mind of a young boy imagining his future fantasy life. Model good looks, the most successful quarterback of his generation, married to one of the most most beautiful women on the planet. I'll admit, I always root against the Patriots if only because I don't think it's fair for one guy to have it that good.

If it makes you feel better, it appears from the article that he probably hasn't eaten a cheeseburger in a decade.
posted by sallybrown at 8:29 AM on January 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


cheatriots strike again
posted by eustatic at 8:31 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


A lot of the time, you can just say "ball" instead of the giggle-inducing "balls" or slightly clumsy "footballs."
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 8:31 AM on January 27, 2015


T.D. Strange: “But a credible allegations of institutional cheating against the marquee franchise of the 2000s? Or a team that hides evidence of domestic abuse?”

Those two things are totally on the same level.
posted by koeselitz at 8:33 AM on January 27, 2015


koeselitz: I think perhaps we've learned

I really don't think your statement is mutually exclusive of mine.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:33 AM on January 27, 2015


If you remember the ideal gas law from your chemistry class, pV = nRT, or pressure times volume equals number of moles times ideal gas constant times temperature.

What you can intuit from that is that all other things staying the same (R won't change ever, same container, and you don't release in gas) if you lower the temperature the pressure will drop.

Temperature at the Gilette stadium on January 18 was 51F (283 K), so let's assume the patriots filled the ball in a very hot room (or used hot gas) a very hot 90F (305K) to the minimum pressure of 12.5 PSI. When taken outside the balls will start gradually reach the oustide temperature so the pressure in the balls will drop.

pInit * Vinit = n * R * Tinit
pFinal * Vfinal = n * R * Tfinal
Vinit = Vfinal

so solving for pFinal

pFinal = Tfinal/Tinit * pInit

or

11.6 PSI = (283K/305K) * 12.5 PSI

A ball inflated with very hot gas to the minimum pressure could easily lose 1 PSI once it reaches the outside temp.
posted by coust at 8:33 AM on January 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


coust: so let's assume the patriots filled the ball in a very hot room (or used hot gas) a very hot 90F (305K) to the minimum pressure of 12.5 PSI.

Are we assuming they just happened to be in a room that's 20 degrees above standard room temperature, or that they did so knowing the effect it would have on the inflation at game temperature?
posted by tonycpsu at 8:34 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


So why risk it for freaking deflated balls, especially if they are so dominant that the balls don't matter?

The Nixon re-election committee conducted an illegal campaign of political spying and sabotage that led to the resignation of the president in order to win an election that ended up being one of the most lopsided wins of American history. People do some crazy stuff to get an edge.
posted by Winnemac at 8:35 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


sallybrown: "But why would they cheat about something so stupid that is not likely to be all that helpful? Once an organization like this is shown to be a "cheater" it (fairly or unfairly) colors everything else they do. So why risk it for freaking deflated balls, especially if they are so dominant that the balls don't matter?"
You're assuming they only manipulated the balls. I'm assuming the underinflated balls was the only trick that was discovered.
posted by brokkr at 8:36 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


according to all those leaks and innuendos, the colts knew something was hinky with the balls during their last game - if that's true, we're not talking about one completely lopsided game where the patriots stomped the colts - we're talking potentially all their games.

This is exactly what the Sharp article, mentioned in the first comment, seems to indicate. When the NFL allowed away teams to provide the balls they would use on offense (thanks in no small part to Brady and the Patriots' advocacy), the Patriots went from 1 fumble every 42 offensive plays (only slightly worse than average) to 1 every 74 plays (way better than any other team, someone mathier than I will have to tell us just how many stadard deviations it is). To me, Sharp's analysis has made this interesting and I'd love to see someone take it on.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 8:36 AM on January 27, 2015


I'm looking forward to watching the Seahawks wipe the floor with this pack of whiners and cheaters.

I'm looking forward to watching the Patriots kick cheaty-cheater Pete Carroll's ass, since he let a whole bunch of cheating go on at USC and pretended not to know about it, then said "I'm outta here, have fun with those punishments!" when the sanctions were handed down.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:36 AM on January 27, 2015 [11 favorites]


From that last link above the fold:
Watching the Great Media Hippo doing a moral ballet
Nicely done.
posted by yoink at 8:37 AM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


My favorite part was all of the "physics" arguments about how the balls just deflated because they were pumped in warm-air.

Well, both Bill Nye and Neil DeGrasse Tyson got this wrong, so you're forgiven as well. You have to do the math correctly, which means using psia, not psig. :)

Footballs are required to be inflated to 12.5-13.5psig. That g is important, it means "gauge". A football pumped up to 12.5-13psia, that is absolute, would be almost flat, because the atmosphere at sea level is around 14.7psi. The absolute pressure in a legal football is 27.2-28.2psia.

Secondly, when you compress gas in a constrained volume, it warms up. Pressure*Volume over Temperature is a constant. Increase the pressure, you have to increase either the volume or the temp, and in a football, you're not increasing the volume. Indeed, many air pumps get surprisingly hot from this, and put out much warmer than ambient air.

So, I can actually see how this happens.

1) The Patriots get a bunch of footballs and inflate them to 12.5psig, because Tom Brady likes the softer end of the scale. This heats up the air inside the balls. They happen to do this shortly before they have to turn the balls in.

2) The referees test them, and pass them. They may well have added some air to them, or let some out, to get them to the required spec.

3) They take the balls outside for a couple of hours. The temp of the air drops, thus the pressure drops.

4) The Colts do a similar thing, but they inflate them well before they have to turn them in for inspection. They cool, are topped off either just beforehand by the equipment manager orby the officials, and remain fine, because they're dropping from room temp, rather than much warmer. It may also be that Andrew Luck, like Aaron Rogers, prefers a firmer football, so they inflated theirs to 13.5psig. The real questions, though, is simple: Were the Colts balls within spec? I've not seen a definitive source say that they were tested during or after the game. On preview, they apparently were tested, if the report above is correct.

In fact, if the air in the footballs when they were initially inflated is about 90F, then, in fact, they'd lose about 2psig when it cooled to 50F.* Given that most of the footballs were only about 1psig low, I find this to be completely plausible, because now you're talking air in the footballs after fill being about 80F. That's not at all impossible, not even improbable. Don't believe me? Go empty a ball, inflate it, and measure the air temp inside the ball. As to the one really flat one? It might have had a leak. I know, leaking sports balls are inconceivable.

Data I want to see.

1) What were the actual pressure in both the New England and Indianapolis footballs at halftime and the Indianapolis footballs at the end of the game.

2) Take a football, empty it, inflate it with the same gear that New England would have used, measure the internal temperature of that air after inflation.

The point of psig is if you work the math at 12.5psi, because you read psig as psia, the ball doesn't drop that much, but at 27.2psia, it does.

My prediction. If they inflate those balls with the same gear that the Patriots used, to the level that the Patriots would normally set them and then cool them to 45F, they will see the same drop.

Prediction part II: Teams won't be providing footballs anymore.

I have heard that a lot of teams are pissed off -- at the Colts and Ravens. Because they like how they control their game footballs before the game, and they don't want the league to do it, and now, the league is going to do it.

after Tom Brady lobbied the NFL to revoke its rule that required home teams to provide game balls for both teams.

You mean Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, and when they brought it up to other QBs, every single one agreed with them. The change in the rules went through without a hitch.

Before this, the home team provided balls for both side, and amazingly enough, the footballs for the home team would be nice, grippy ones, filled to the exact preferred pressure, and the ones for the away teams would be brand new -- read, slippery as hell -- and inflated to whatever.

In MLB, the home team provides baseballs for the game, and does so in the original packaing. The umpires open them up and then, using Baseball Rubbing Mud, then rub down all the balls to take the shine off and roughen the covers up a bit for grip. Since the umpires prepare all the baseballs, this works.


* The change in temperature between 50F and 90F (when you convert to an absolute scale like rankine or kelvin) is about 93.2%. That would cause a ball at 27.2psia to drop to 25.4psia, or 10.7psig, or 1.8psig below minimum spec.

Now, do this at psig, and the math "says" you'd only drop to 11.65 psig. That's where Bill Nye and NdT got it wrong, they worked it psig, not psia.
posted by eriko at 8:37 AM on January 27, 2015 [33 favorites]


11.6 PSI = (283K/305K) * 12.5 PSI

Except that pressure gauges measure pressure relative to the atmosphere. Being at or near sea level adds an extra 14.7 psi to deal with. The pressure change is based on the absolute pressure, so comes out more than if you just look at gauge pressure.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:37 AM on January 27, 2015


You're assuming they only manipulated the balls.

Such teases!
posted by yoink at 8:38 AM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


tonycpsu: “I really don't think your statement is mutually exclusive of mine.”

Well, to be more direct – you say it's clear from this that players take the inflation of balls very seriously, but I am not sure we can conclude this, given the space between "what players actually think" and "what players will say with a camera in their face when asked a question about a rival team."
posted by koeselitz at 8:39 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Those two things are totally on the same level.

The repercussions from the league will be the same, zero, with just as much faux sanctimony.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:41 AM on January 27, 2015


I'm assuming the underinflated balls was the only trick that was discovered.

That's what I'm implying would be assumed by a lot of people, if the deflating was caught (which it was). Which is another reason the deflating alone seems irrational, as far as cheating goes.

The Nixon example is interesting - because it's an example of pointless risky cheating, but also of an organization and figurehead who was pretty damn crooked. The cheating there that was caught was the tip of an iceberg of shit.
posted by sallybrown at 8:41 AM on January 27, 2015


tonycpsu: I have no idea

Huffy Puffy: Indeed, well that just makes the pressure bigger.
posted by coust at 8:41 AM on January 27, 2015


koeselitz: I'd have to dig into it, but one of the ESPN stories I saw had footage of Brady (probably before this happened) talking about how he liked the footballs on the underinflated side. So I don't think this is very controversial.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:42 AM on January 27, 2015


From across the pond the biggest surprise is they let the teams manage their own footballs? Of course they'll bloody tamper with them what on earth were the NFL expecting?
posted by fullerine at 8:42 AM on January 27, 2015 [13 favorites]


I love myself a good conspiracy theory, and I love myself some good ol' dirty Patriots football, so my most recent operating theory is that this whole controversy was deliberately created by Belichick to keep the press focused on the Patriots prior to the big game and make the Seahawks feel neglected, which is their mental Achilles heel.

The NFL organization is so freaking corrupt - if football deflation is a big issue, then they shouldn't be controlled by the teams after the inspection, like MLB does. Problem freaking solved.
posted by muddgirl at 8:42 AM on January 27, 2015


This year's superbowl:
The divine interventionists vs The cheaters.

Seems almost perfect for an American super sporting event
posted by edgeways at 8:42 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


iirc, the belichick hoodie thing is equal parts him mad about only being allowed to wear sanctioned brands (and having to wear throwback stuff which he thinks is dumb) and that he has short arms and got sick of shoving the sleeves up.
posted by nadawi at 8:47 AM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]




It's fascinating to see a modern witch-hunt in action.

At the beginning, from Chris Mortensen, a tweet: "NFL has found that 11 of the Patriots footballs used in Sunday’s AFC title game were under-inflated by 2 lbs each, per league sources." Sounds bad, right? What do you think most people assumed about that last ball? That it was within limits, right?

Then on Sunday, Mike Florio on PFT: "As one league source has explained it to PFT, the football intercepted by Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson was roughly two pounds under the 12.5 PSI minimum. The other 10 balls that reportedly were two pounds under may have been, as the source explained it, closer to one pound below 12.5 PSI."

Next, you have the Patriot's explanation that the change in temperature from 70F to 50F could have naturally accounted for a 1psi drop from 12.5 to 11.5, and that they tested this experimentally. Independent tests have shown the same.

On the other side you have Neil deGrasse Tyson weighing in: "For the Patriots to blame a change in temperature for 15% lower-pressures, requires balls to be inflated with 125-degree air."

But... he didn't show his work, and he made a common mistake in using gauge pressure instead of atmospheric pressure. Gay-Lussac's law states that absolute pressure (atmospheric pressure + gauge pressure) is proportional to absolute temperature. A 1 psi drop from 12.5 to 11.5, after converting to absolute pressure, is 27.2psia / 26.2psia, a 3.7% drop, not a 15% drop. Coincidentally, the temperature drop from indoor temperature 293.2K (68F) to outdoor temperature 283.2K (50F) is a 3.4% drop, suggesting that 10 of the balls were at exactly the expected pressure.

So now, 10 of the balls were reportedly at the expected pressure given the outdoor temperature. One ball, in possession of the Colts, was 1 psi under. And the 12th ball? It was thrown into the stands after a touchdown.

Can anyone here poke holes at this interpretation of events? And please don't reply with "what about the Colt's footballs?" - the NFL has not released or leaked any information about what pressure they were at before, during, or after the game.
posted by Harvey Byrd at 8:51 AM on January 27, 2015 [13 favorites]


I'm looking forward to watching the Seahawks wipe the floor with this pack of whiners and cheaters.

Sure, their win will just be vacated in a few years anyways.
posted by drezdn at 8:55 AM on January 27, 2015


. They may well have added some air to them, or let some out, to get them to the required spec.


I don't know of any reason they would let air out. Its a required minimum pressure, not a range.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 8:56 AM on January 27, 2015


as dave zirin just tweeted "Either everyone in the NFL is a "hater" and "jelly" or Belichick and the Pats have created a mass accumulation of ill-will over the years."
posted by nadawi at 8:57 AM on January 27, 2015


Loves me some Dave Zirin, but I say "both / and".
posted by tonycpsu at 8:58 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


nadawi: "Either everyone in the NFL is a "hater" and "jelly" or Belichick and the Pats have created a mass accumulation of ill-will over the years."

Or this is a misguided, misinformed investigation by a league that has been proven increasingly incompetent at investigating anything.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:59 AM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


Here's the thing that gets me. The NFL is a massive economic operation; it generates $9.5 billion in revenue. That's not enough revenue, so it gets massively subsidized by the public - for instance, this year the Superbowl will be played in a stadium financed 70% by taxes (not including all the extra public costs for infrastructure improvements, police, etc). That's still not enough, but luckily they are a not-for-profit organization, so they don't have to pay any taxes, despite sucking billions out of the system.

But despite being the wealthiest sports league in the world, sucking billions in taxes and paying not one red cent in return, the motherfuckers are still too goddamn cheap* to hire a couple of dudes to sit around babysitting the piece of equipment that's so important the game is named after it so a team can't cheat - or be proven not to have cheated - in a championship game.

* see also, producing a subpar product to avoid paying referees a few bucks more, asking Katy Perry to pay them for the privilege of playing the Superbowl, et al.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 9:02 AM on January 27, 2015 [16 favorites]


if the owner gets called "assistant commissioner" i think they have to expect that if their noses aren't 100% clean they will get lambasted, especially if they've been caught cheating before (and especially since belichick still seems to think that was no big deal and not really cheating).

and - the league has totally fucked up by letting this just twist in the wind of public opinion and the idiot commentators - but i think zirin was more talking about how few supporters the pats have in this, not about the investigation by the league.
posted by nadawi at 9:04 AM on January 27, 2015


I don't know of any reason they would let air out. Its a required minimum pressure, not a range.

It actually is a range, although I don't know how you could maintain that range the entire game in winter without constant adjustment unless you are inflating the balls on the field.

My theory is that the NFL never actually measured before the game, because they don't care. That's why they can't answer the simple questions as to what the actual drop was, or whether the Colts' balls dropped as well.

I find this AV club analysis fairly convincing, and while it's been many years since freshman physics, it seems they did everything right. Most likely scenario: the Pats always inflate to the lower range, per Brady's preferences, and the ball has always wound up slightly under inflated as a result. No one cared until now, and without evidence of tampering, I can't see how you can punish the Pats.
posted by snickerdoodle at 9:11 AM on January 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


the motherfuckers are still too goddamn cheap* to hire a couple of dudes to sit around babysitting the piece of equipment

from the gq article (which really, it's a great read if you're looking for more reasons to hate goodell, the owners, and the league) :
At NFL headquarters there was suddenly a new mood, a brasher, more money-minded approach. The new commissioner demanded loyalty from staffers and even questioned their value. "He thought everyone was overpaid," a former senior executive told me. "He always told me I was overpaid." Another told me: "He gave me a hard time about my contract. I was like, The fuck you doing? This is peanuts."
here is a deadspin sum up of the gq article if you just want a few paragraphs of the juicy stuff.
posted by nadawi at 9:11 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I must be missing something. I saw a clip from a press conference earlier this week where someone asked Tom Brady if he was a cheater, he replied "I don't believe so." To me, for professional athlete to answer that question with those words is just beyond the pale. Was it some kind of joke I don't get? Or was it some kind of ass-covering thing like if the ball boy had deflated the balls technically Brady is a cheater but has plausible deniability or some shit?

I just chalk up the fact Tom Brady even has a job after that remark as example #4,782 of the NFL being morally bankrupt.
posted by marxchivist at 9:39 AM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


I love Tom Brady. He's the best.
posted by kbanas at 9:42 AM on January 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think the idea is that - as has been made apparent these last two weeks - there are NFL rules that very few players and coaches even know about (much less fully understand), so he's joking that now he's not sure if he is breaking any rules about underwear color or fingernail length.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:42 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I just chalk up the fact Tom Brady even has a job after that remark as example #4,782 of the NFL being morally bankrupt.


I definitely agree with you. The fact that he said he doesn't think he's cheating is a really strong reason he should be cut and banished from football. That's a scorching hot take.
posted by kbanas at 9:44 AM on January 27, 2015 [8 favorites]


marxchivist: “I must be missing something. I saw a clip from a press conference earlier this week where someone asked Tom Brady if he was a cheater, he replied ‘I don't believe so.’ To me, for professional athlete to answer that question with those words is just beyond the pale. Was it some kind of joke I don't get?”

Yep. It was a joke. Here's the clip. The question he was asked is "is Tom Brady a cheater?" Tom Brady laughs nervously and says "I don't believe so" before continuing with his answer. The joke (a lame one, which I guess is standard for press conferences) is referring to him in the third person. He clearly wasn't earnestly saying he "doesn't believe" he himself has cheated.
posted by koeselitz at 10:03 AM on January 27, 2015


Thanks koeslitz, I really didn't get the context of it. I still think that's the kind of thing athlete's shouldn't even joke about but it's a tough old world I guess.
posted by marxchivist at 10:06 AM on January 27, 2015


was that the same jerkwad who was all "look into the camera and apologize to the children!" or whatever? bc that dude was an asshole, and i don't even like tom brady.
posted by nadawi at 10:06 AM on January 27, 2015


I really don't care about football or this silly controversy, but I'm willing to believe and actively encourage whatever reality gives New England enough of a black eye in the world of sports to make the 2024 Olympics a complete non-starter.

I think Bob Kraft is part of the Boston 2024 group, so as a Boston-area resident, I say screw him and his cheating quarterback.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 10:11 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I like this scandal because (a) the news has been so horrible lately and it is nice to obsess about something unimportant and (b) it is fun to see how willing we are to believe something if it fits with our preconceived notions.
posted by Area Man at 10:21 AM on January 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


The NFL is a nice microcosm of American society. Fine Marchawn Lynch for obscene gestures that had no effect on the game (while selling pictures of the same gestures), warn him about not participating in the media charades after the game, don't let him wear golden shoes. Year long suspensions for all players caught with a little weed, even in states where it's legal. Throw a guy out of the league despite no actual charges filed by the actual legal system.

But a credible allegations of institutional cheating against the marquee franchise of the 2000s?


I've got no issues with Brady. I did enjoy those two games against the Tim Tebow-led Broncos. Brady basically put on a passing clinic for little Timmy those two games. Watching Tebow and his fan base getting crushed was almost as golden as Sarah Palin without a teleprompter.

I've followed pro football since I was eleven or twelve. I was cursed to be raised in a part of the world where the Minnesota Vikings were the team of choice and I have suffered many an indignity over the years. It is my dream to run into George RR Martin at a con and tell him, "stop whining about your goddamn Jets. I've known pain not even Theon Greyjoy has experienced. You at least won a fucking Super Bowl."

But this is my last year watching football and this Sunday will be my last Super Bowl. It's not just Deflategate. The domestic abuse, child abuse, drug abuse, fucking golden cleats, playing on Thursday nights, Roger Goodell, more brain damaged retirees (Favre can't even remember that his daughter played soccer), and the paltry settlement the league offered the retirees/victims has done its damage. I am done. I cannot in good conscience spend time or consideration on a sport that cares so little for anything but the almighty dollar. At this point Goodell makes Bud Selig look like a standup guy and I'd rather run over Selig than give him a ride. Good riddance to all of that and here's to freeing up my Thursdays and Sundays next fall.
posted by Ber at 10:32 AM on January 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


It actually is a range, although I don't know how you could maintain that range the entire game in winter without constant adjustment unless you are inflating the balls on the field.

My theory is that the NFL never actually measured before the game, because they don't care. That's why they can't answer the simple questions as to what the actual drop was, or whether the Colts' balls dropped as well.


As far as I can tell, this may be the first and only time a football has been measured on-field during a football game. The rule itself only specifies the pressure that a football must be at when inspected by the referee before the game; it says nothing about what the pressure should be on the field of play.

To get an idea of how f-ed up the situation is... after measuring the game balls and finding them lower than expected, instead of continuing play with the backup game balls (of which there were 12), the re-inflated the original 12, thus making it impossible for the NFL or the Patriots to determine what the original indoor inflation pressure was.

It's as if the DEA put together a sting operation, bought the drugs from the target, then sold the drugs instead of keeping them as evidence.
posted by Harvey Byrd at 10:34 AM on January 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


> Ballghazi

Is ____ghazi in line to be the new ____gate? We really need a replacement young folks can relate to. Never mind, forget I asked.
posted by jfuller at 10:42 AM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think this and the Spygate scandal are both manufactured controversy originating basically out of sour grapes from the fact that the Patriots have had the incredible good fortune to have both one of the best coaches of all time as well as one of the best quarterbacks of all time, simultaneously.

I think we're ultimately going to end up seeing absolutely nothing come out of this so-called scandal, even the equipment manager who everyone is so worried about catching the blame is going to end up being exonerated. Of course, that won't matter, because there is a culture of cheating in New England! (Let's not talk about how many Seattle players have been busted for PEDs though, just to take one example out of many, that's not a culture thing.) Maybe I'll regret saying this, but I kind of doubt it.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:46 AM on January 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


This year's superbowl:
The divine interventionists vs The cheaters.


The DespicaBowl!
posted by ominous_paws at 10:51 AM on January 27, 2015 [7 favorites]


(I'll be flogging the hell out of that one on twitter. Handle's on my profile page, folks!)
posted by ominous_paws at 10:52 AM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


You know they could fix this if they started using solid cast iron footballs.
posted by spitbull at 10:57 AM on January 27, 2015 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I think there's a whole lot of searching for guilt because New England happens to have a great team. Much evidence that would absolve the Patriots is being ignored -- they dominated the Colts even more after the deflated balls were taken out of play -- and much of the team's "cheating past" is being trotted out, despite that most of the allegations have either never been proven or have been proven false.

I get why people hate New England -- they win! -- but it seems weak sauce to ascribe their success to cheating given the quality of their play, coaching and drafting all these years.

Which strikes me as odd. Instead of celebrating greatness, which will probably come around only once every so many generations, a lot of folks are instead busy tearing them down.
posted by touchstone033 at 11:01 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I get why people hate New England -- they win! -- but it seems weak sauce to ascribe their success to cheating given the quality of their play, coaching and drafting all these years.

That's not what I'm hearing. Rather, the story I keep hearing from people who hate the Patriots is that New England cheats even though they can win without cheating. They cheat because they are cheaters committed to getting every last little advantage whether legal or not, not out of desperation.
posted by Area Man at 11:04 AM on January 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


Is ____ghazi in line to be the new ____gate?

"ghazi" is the appropriate suffix when the speaker/writer believes that the supposed scandal is trumped up and ridiculous.

"gate" is for straight up shadiness.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:10 AM on January 27, 2015 [11 favorites]


Area Man: "Rather, the story I keep hearing from people who hate the Patriots is that New England cheats even though they can win without cheating."

Are there any verified charges of "cheating" laid on the Patriots this millenium other than Spyghazi (thanks, sparklemotion)?
posted by Rock Steady at 11:12 AM on January 27, 2015


Are there any verified charges of "cheating" laid on the Patriots this millenium other than Spyghazi (thanks, sparklemotion)?

I have no idea. I have no strong feelings about the Patriots (though the Facebook triumphalism that comes from my Vermont cousins on game days is a little annoying.) I was just trying to help touchstone033 better understand the narrative being pushed by Patriot haters.
posted by Area Man at 11:22 AM on January 27, 2015


I get why people hate New England -- they win! -- but it seems weak sauce to ascribe their success to cheating given the quality of their play, coaching and drafting all these years.

Which strikes me as odd. Instead of celebrating greatness, which will probably come around only once every so many generations, a lot of folks are instead busy tearing them down.


I see clear parallels between what's happening to the Patriots and what happens to Apple and Tesla, to give two non-political, non-religious examples. They are all highly successful, highly admired, yet highly polarizing organizations with genius-level, idiosyncratic personalities at the top.

All three have legions that hate them and that have created counter-narratives to their success. Patriots: cheaters, arrogant, stingy and disloyal to their players. Apple: marketers peddling inferior junk to the gullible public, dependent on Chinese child labor to produce their overpriced products. Tesla: taking money from the government through loans and tax credits to build impractical cars for the brainwashed, hypocritical tree-hugging rich.

Ultimately, I think it's the personality at the top that people respond to in an emotional way. Once that's set, rational considerations take a back seat.
posted by Harvey Byrd at 11:25 AM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


When you think about it, the Patriots have basically turned into a straight laced version of the Yankees in terms of public perception. Ah, the irony.
posted by feloniousmonk at 11:40 AM on January 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


GateGhazi GaziGate could be the formula for perpetual emotion.
posted by srboisvert at 11:42 AM on January 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


For what it's worth, I do have a t-shirt that I custom printed that combines the Patriots logo with the Cobra Kai "Strike First Strike Hard No Mercy" logo.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:43 AM on January 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


Hey, the leg sweep was totally legal! Reminds me of this pretty excellent recent article.
posted by feloniousmonk at 11:57 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]




Which strikes me as odd. Instead of celebrating greatness, which will probably come around only once every so many generations, a lot of folks are instead busy tearing them down.

Except that the NFL--as I understand things--is carefully structured to maximize the mutual profitability of all teams by highly regulating the playing field (league profit-sharing, team salary caps, etc) so that no one franchise can become dominant and all teams are equally likely to have their moment at the top (i.e. the phrase "any given Sunday").

The Patriots have been winning too much, ergo they must be cheating. Whatever the real thing is that they're doing to win will most likely be discovered and banned by the league at some future point to even things out again and restore competition.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 12:01 PM on January 27, 2015


Drew Magary ranks Sports Crimes on Deadspin.

Content Warning: The Deadspin Weekly Funbag can get a little... edgy. You've been warned.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:04 PM on January 27, 2015


Also, FWIW: we shouldn't forget the criminal way NFL teams "pay" (if you can call it that) their cheerleaders. That one gets left out of the laundry list all the time.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:06 PM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


What I love about all this is that football fans are inadvertently learning some physics.
posted by srboisvert at 12:10 PM on January 27, 2015


Well, there's definitely some history here.

When Belichick's staff was caught taping defensive signals from the sidelines, they were doing it openly, in front of 80,000 witnesses at every game, home and away, for a half decade. When asked by the league if he was doing it, he admitted to it and said he didn't think it was technically against the rules due to some ill-considered rules lawyering that blew up in his face. That's "Spygate."

Bill Belichick is a lot of things - a hypercompetitive martinet, scourge of the local sports media and ruthless hatchetman in personnel decisions. A liar and a sneak-cheat is not one of them. He didn't attempt to pass the blame on to any other member of the organization, and took responsibility for his actions and co-operated completely and openly with the League. Based on that history, if the man says he and his team are blameless, I believe him. He takes his lumps.

My biggest problem as a Pats fan is that this is all rumor and hearsay - the NFL has released diddly-bupkis to the press. It's all "insider reports" and "unnamed sources" with varying degrees of hyperbolic speculation slathered on top. Chris Mortenson was one of the first national media members to report on this, who's same "inside sources" told us that Brady and the Patriots were on the verge of a divorce and a complete rebuilding year after the Kansas City game, and numerous conflicting and bogus stories since then.

(Also, note bene - In 2007, the Patriots acquired Hall of Fame caliber recievers Randy Moss and Wes Welker and the less heralded Benjarvus Green-Ellis. Not only did their game switch to a pass-dominant offense from a more mixed balance, they got in Green-Ellis a rusher who had never fumbled a football in college, and didn't fumble it in the pros until near the end of his career. Take that as you would.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:14 PM on January 27, 2015 [7 favorites]


The Patriots have been winning too much, ergo they must be cheating. Whatever the real thing is that they're doing to win will most likely be discovered and banned by the league at some future point to even things out again and restore competition.

Not totally sure if you're being sarcastic or being serious (the sentiment you expressed above is almost exactly the stereotype used by Patriots fans making fun of other teams' fans).

If you are serious, then you should also understand that the NFL's rules are created by fallible human beings, and attempts to make the playing field level are not perfect, even if they were intended to be. If sports was entirely chance with no element of skill at the player or management level, it wouldn't be very interesting, would it?

In addition, NFL fans can point to several rule changes instituted in the last decade that were put in place to counter successful tactics devised by the Patriots.
posted by Harvey Byrd at 12:19 PM on January 27, 2015


If you are serious, then you should also understand that the NFL's rules are created by fallible human beings, and attempts to make the playing field level are not perfect, even if they were intended to be.

I was being serious, and I think that's exactly my point. I'm not a sports fan, but it seems that the "greatness" ascribed to the Patriots is antithetical to the league's emphasis on leveling the playing field and promoting competition to keep the overall profitability of the game high. It doesn't matter what the team is doing; it's "cheating" in the same sense that high speed stock trading is "cheating"--they've gamed the system into giving them a slight edge and the regulators just haven't caught up with them yet.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 12:32 PM on January 27, 2015


thus making it impossible for the NFL or the Patriots to determine what the original indoor inflation pressure was

It's not impossible! I used to bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home, and they're not much bigger than two meters!
posted by Naberius at 12:37 PM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


Assuming arguendo that a agent of the Pats deflated no less than 12 footballs by one psi, how did he or she actually accomplish this? Precision inflation is difficult, as any one using an air compressor to inflate all four tires to the exact same pressure will attest. Precision deflation? By one psi? Feh.

Occam's Razor favors the explanation that 12.5 psi balls--the softer, but still legal pressure under the rules that Brady allegedly said he prefers--that were inflated warm lost pressure when cold. With all due respect to my man Neil Tyson (peace be unto him), air compressors can easily produce 125F air. I can't imagine that the Pats used a bicycle pump to inflate 12 or more footballs. By Ball 12, you can bet the air flow from a compressor would easily approach Arizona summer temperatures.

QED
posted by rdone at 12:43 PM on January 27, 2015


Basically, this whole story is just there as a pretext for people to be smug and dismissive, right?

Pats fans: Everybody hates us 'cuz we're great! We're owed an apology
All other NFL fans: See, the Patriots are just mean ol' cheaters!

Armchair physicists who went back to their freshman chemistry books: Well it's just simple noble gas law calculations, look how I calculated it to agree with my preconceived assumptions regarding their guilt
Other armchair physicists: Well, yeah, if you completely misunderstand how physics works. Look, I calculated it to agree with MY preconceived assumptions regarding their guilt

Armchair statisticians: Look, they have an extremely improbable fumble rate, obviously they're guilty
Other armchair statisticians: Well, sure, if you're an idiot who doesn't understand statistics

College football fans: Pete Carroll should be kicked in the balls for eternity because of some unspecified bullshit that went on at USC and goes on everywhere, only they got caught for it

The solution: go outside and look at the beautiful snow/slush/dead trees/sunny weather and breathe some fresh air. It will all be over soon.
posted by Existential Dread at 12:46 PM on January 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's also rarely been noted in all of this, but because of the bad weather, each team prepared 24 balls for the game. Twelve were brought to the field, and twelve were kept as backups in the officials' locker room. I've never heard about any testing on those backup balls.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:47 PM on January 27, 2015




Footballs are required to be inflated to 12.5-13.5psig. That g is important, it means "gauge". A football pumped up to 12.5-13psia, that is absolute, would be almost flat, because the atmosphere at sea level is around 14.7psi. The absolute pressure in a legal football is 27.2-28.2psia.

You just know when a comment starts like this, without even having to look at the poster, that it's eriko.

Always love your comments, dude. Always in awe.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 12:53 PM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


i still think a likely scenario is that the refs aren't weighing the balls right/there process isn't as exact as it's portrayed - maybe the pats know this maybe they don't. regardless, because brady favors it as low as allowed any lower and it's under the allowed amount - whether that be by temperature/handling stuff, or not very well controlled weighing procedures, or whatever. it does seem to fall into the same edge case rules lawyering thing that belichick is known for and i still think he's basically calling us all morons if he expects us to believe he didn't know anything about how the footballs are handled on game day.

i do agree that it's unlikely any real punishment will happen - but i think that's pretty divorced from whether or not there is wrong doing and more related to the close relationship between goodell and kraft. of course, i also wonder how that relationship is going since goodell hasn't tried to stymy the leaks or speculation and kraft called him out directly. i thought goodell was going to weather this year because he still had the owners, and specifically kraft, behind him, but i'm questioning that assumption now. it would be just like the nfl to manage to sweep all the domestic violence/head trauma/etc under the rug for goodell and then a couple under-inflated balls bring him down.
posted by nadawi at 12:58 PM on January 27, 2015


Pro Football Talk reports that surveillance video shows a Patriots locker room attendant taking two bags of footballs, which had just been checked and approved, into a washroom for 90 seconds before delivering them to the field.
posted by Flashman at 1:04 PM on January 27, 2015


Armchair physicists who went back to their freshman chemistry books: Well it's just simple noble gas law calculations, look how I calculated it to agree with my preconceived assumptions regarding their guilt
Other armchair physicists: Well, yeah, if you completely misunderstand how physics works. Look, I calculated it to agree with MY preconceived assumptions regarding their guilt


So if you see two sides disagreeing on a decidable scientific problem, what do you do besides throwing your hands up in the air?

You look at what the two sides are discussing and listen to what they say when the other side challenges their approach.

In this case, the same thing always happens. Someone says "the pressure change is too big to be explained by the temperature difference", the other side says "double check your work, you probably used gauge pressure rather than absolute pressure", then the original side says "oh yeah, my bad, it's been years since I've used this equation. You're right". Or sometimes they're embarrassed and don't reply.

It never happens the other way. What does that tell you?
posted by Harvey Byrd at 1:05 PM on January 27, 2015


no clue why he thought a pee break was the right thing to do - but if we're only talking about the 11 balls (which is still not confirmed anywhere, like pretty much everything in this story) - that's a tiny bit over 8 seconds per ball, not counting loading and unloading - that seems awfully quick for any tampering and seems to be just about the right amount of time for someone to go pee without washing their hands.
posted by nadawi at 1:10 PM on January 27, 2015


So if you see two sides disagreeing on a decidable scientific problem, what do you do besides throwing your hands up in the air?

Fair enough. The math is not my issue here, really, but rather the speculation regarding facts leading to the conclusion provided by the math. What were the pressures in the other 12 balls that weren't tested? What was the air temperature coming out of the compressor? What was the temp in the room where they were inflated? What were the pressures of the Colts balls? Do we really think that ball air pressure has more of an effect on the outcome of the games than who is juicing and getting away with it? Why the hell are we arguing about this?
posted by Existential Dread at 1:14 PM on January 27, 2015


Before this, the home team provided balls for both side, and amazingly enough, the footballs for the home team would be nice, grippy ones, filled to the exact preferred pressure, and the ones for the away teams would be brand new -- read, slippery as hell -- and inflated to whatever.

Of course, the obvious solution is that both teams use balls from the same pool, ideally prepared by league officials, and that both teams use the same ball until it needs to be replaced for some reason. You know, like literally every other sport that uses a ball. Leave it to Goodell & Co to come up with the most ass way possible to "fix" the situation. That must be why he gets paid the big bucks.
posted by dirigibleman at 1:20 PM on January 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


Of course, the obvious solution is that both teams use balls from the same pool, ideally prepared by league officials, and that both teams use the same ball until it needs to be replaced for some reason. You know, like literally every other sport that uses a ball.

You mean, like they already do with the kicker balls? Unpossible!
posted by Huffy Puffy at 1:23 PM on January 27, 2015


Actually, maybe the NFL can spin this whole thing into another marketable property: "Ball Check Live presented by Goodyear" could air on the NFL Network one hour before the kickoff of each game.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:25 PM on January 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


Except that the NFL--as I understand things--is carefully structured to maximize the mutual profitability of all teams by highly regulating the playing field (league profit-sharing, team salary caps, etc) so that no one franchise can become dominant and all teams are equally likely to have their moment at the top

Cleveland Browns. You can't explain that!
posted by Hoopo at 1:27 PM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]




yet again, sports reveals character - in both teams AND fans...
posted by j_curiouser at 1:36 PM on January 27, 2015


I'm having fun imagining the ESPN Sports Science segment where they try to simulate the locker room guy rapidly deflating footballs in the bathroom.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:40 PM on January 27, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm having fun imagining the ESPN Sports Science segment where they try to simulate the locker room guy rapidly deflating footballs in the bathroom.

It can be part of a celebrity reality show - "To get his immunity, Michael Strahann needs to deflate 11 balls by 1.5 psi in 90 seconds... while in the men's room!"
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:48 PM on January 27, 2015


What were the pressures in the other 12 balls that weren't tested?

Nobody has said. Nobody has even said if they've been tested at all or if the pressures were recorded.

What was the air temperature coming out of the compressor?
There has been no suggestion anyplace that a compressor was used, or that the balls were inflated at any point before the game by either the Patriots or the referees.

What was the temp in the room where they were inflated?
I believe the Patriots have said that they were inflated in a normal indoor environment, about 70F or so. They've specifically stated that they did not inflate the balls in a superheated environment.

What were the pressures of the Colts balls?
Nobody knows for sure. I infer that they were at or near 12.5 - 13.5 psi when they were measured during the game, but there have been no statements on their inflation pressure before the start of the game or the the conditions that they were measured in, if at all.

Do we really think that ball air pressure has more of an effect on the outcome of the games than who is juicing and getting away with it? Why the hell are we arguing about this?
The Patriots have claimed that in their tests, 1psi difference was imperceptible and 2psi difference was occasionally perceptible. I've seen other people state similar things.

As far as I can tell, someone back in 1938 or so decided that the football should be at 13psi and added a half psi each way to make things easier. That's it. You can tell nobody really cared because they didn't bother specifying the temperature.

As far as I know, the starting pressures are not logged, and in fact it's not uncommon for referees to inspect by feel.
posted by Harvey Byrd at 1:49 PM on January 27, 2015


So am I wrong or is all of this analysis basically trying to show The Patriots are good at football and don't fumble much and The Patriots use 1 PSI lower air pressure in the ball, therefore The Patriots are good at football and don't fumble much because they use 1 PSI lower air pressure than they're supposed to?

I mean I didn't exactly get an A in Symbolic Logic but I don't think this argument really works.
posted by Hoopo at 2:12 PM on January 27, 2015




And, as far as I am concerned, the Patriots would have won that game even in the vacuum of space.
I'm not on the Twitters, so someone who is, please start the hashtag #BelichickCheatsINSPAAAAAACE with the ways in which the Patriots would bend the rules in Dr. NdGT's hypothetical space football game.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:19 PM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hoopo: "therefore The Patriots are good at football and don't fumble much because they use 1 PSI lower air pressure than they're supposed to?"

Yes. The argument is that a softer ball is easier to grip and thus harder to fumble. Actually it's probably more like "The patriots use 1 PSI lower air pressure, therefore they don't fumble much, therefore they are good at football" but it doesn't matter, because that guy's data is garbage.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:32 PM on January 27, 2015


I say we give the game ball for this thread to Huffy Puffy, for using Rankine.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:41 PM on January 27, 2015


If we were playing the jump to conclusions game from the movie Office Space... my jump would be the Patriots are being treated much like a hired ex-con would be treated at a job... no strikes left, facts be damned.
posted by matimer at 2:52 PM on January 27, 2015


Do we know what temperature air is actually used to inflate balls? If not, I demand that the NFL retain a team of ex-FBI agents and physicists to investigate.
posted by Area Man at 2:54 PM on January 27, 2015


Yes. The argument is that a softer ball is easier to grip and thus harder to fumble

The argument is far from established though, and we have multiple QBs saying 1 PSI is an imperceptible difference. We also have no indication of what pressure other teams use to see if this is even an advantage for the Patriots. On top of the crap analysis. And while the fumbles may have decreased after 2007 or whenever, there is no real difference in wins/losses for the Patriots despite this supposedly drastic change in the number of fumbles. Maybe fumbles are something that got stressed by the coach to work on in practice. Like, when you're going down, smother the ball at all costs sort of thing. Maybe their players and strategies are just better than most of their competition, which explains why they were very successful both before and after they were allowed to bring their own ball to the game, as well as in this particular game before and after they were re-inflated. Frankly I would fully expect a consistently good team that consistently wins games to hold on to the ball really well, and probably in some years spectacularly so.

I don't like the Patriots because I like an underdog and don't tend to like teams that make the finals or the semis every other year. But this deflategate thing is all sour grapes. Tom Brady likes his balls at the low end of the allowable range? Other QBs like it different. Some athletes have lucky socks or don't shave or wear the same clothes. In my mind it's an idiosyncrasy until someone can actually show that 1 psi difference conclusively results in fewer fumbles, which this did not.

I'm not buying it. Go Seahawks.
posted by Hoopo at 3:15 PM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Increase the pressure, you have to increase either the volume or the temp, and in a football, you're not increasing the volume. Indeed, many air pumps get surprisingly hot from this, and put out much warmer than ambient air. "

When you increase the pressure in an elastic container, you're increasing the volume by definition. You could make an argument that it was negligible here, but as long as we're winding down the long road of Boyle's pedantry, we might as well check all the detours.
posted by klangklangston at 3:17 PM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hoop: “ In my mind it's an idiosyncrasy until someone can actually show that 1 psi difference conclusively results in fewer fumbles, which this did not.”

but don't you get it, 1 psi difference must result in fewer fumbles, because the Patriots have fewer fumbles, so
posted by koeselitz at 3:44 PM on January 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


Bill Belichick is a lot of things - a hypercompetitive martinet, scourge of the local sports media and ruthless hatchetman in personnel decisions. A liar and a sneak-cheat is not one of them.

"But you fuck one goat..."
posted by kirkaracha at 5:03 PM on January 27, 2015 [10 favorites]


I keep waiting for someone to explain how using an underinflated football (so little underinflated that no one noticed for eight years) can, by itself, cut your fumble rate by half and give you a 16-4 record against the spread in wet weather. The main thing it reminds me of is audiophiles who change their disk drive and then think that everything sounds so much richer and fuller. It just doesn't make any sense that a change that small could result in an effect that big. (I could maybe believe a stat that showed that Patriots receivers dropped 10% fewer balls than anyone else, or something.) Just watch the game and see what happens when fumbles occur, and ask yourself how many of those fumbles would magically be prevented if the ball was barely noticeably less inflated.
posted by dfan at 5:24 PM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


With the cut throat way the Patriots make their personnel decisions, I find it really hard to believe that they could get away with any sort of obvious cheating like this. Do you really think Wes Welker wouldn't have told everyone after he left, the way he was treated, if he knew they were messing with ball pressure? If they were, how could he not know? You can pretty much pick any successful offensive player not named Brady they've ever had prior today and find a list of people with a decent motive to talk about this and absolutely no one has. It's not because everyone leaves Foxboro singing yankee doodle, either.
posted by feloniousmonk at 6:26 PM on January 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


With the cut throat way the Patriots make their personnel decisions, I find it really hard to believe that they could get away with any sort of obvious cheating like this. Do you really think Wes Welker wouldn't have told everyone after he left, the way he was treated, if he knew they were messing with ball pressure?

Maybe not if it was padding his stats as a Patriot and he would be implicating himself as well?
posted by ChuckRamone at 6:29 PM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


The other day, I jokingly said to a supermarket cashier (who noticed my Patriots hat, and asked me what I thought about the whole thing) that I was leaning more and more to the idea they were set up. Now, to my surprise, real journalists are starting to say the same thing.
posted by Curious Artificer at 6:33 PM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


I reversed the two links in my comment above. I'm not really sure the guys from boston.barstoolsports are real journalists.
posted by Curious Artificer at 6:44 PM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have previously in desperation picked up a copy of BarStoolSports to have something to read on the T. Not only are they not real journalists, I probably wouldn't let them use my bathroom in an emergency, for fear of them leaving a long-lingering stench.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:00 PM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Two things that seem to be under-commented on: first, just being a successful high-level football coach seems to require a level of micromanagement and gaming and rules-lawyering that would boggle the mind of the average Fortune-500 midlevel exec, and, second, there seems to be a set of NFL teams that have a reputation for doing-things-the-right-way (the Pats and Giants and Steelers are some obvious examples, and I say this as a PGH fan) that sometimes seems to earn them... if not a pass, then at least benefit-of-the-doubt, from the league offices.

I'll be interested to see how all of this plays out.
posted by box at 7:12 PM on January 27, 2015


There has been no suggestion anyplace that a compressor was used,

If a compressor wasn't used, the balls were at 0psig, or 14.7psia. The increased pressure above ambient is an explicit statement that an air compressor was used. Otherwise, it would be impossible for the footballs to be over 1atm/0psig/14.7psia.
posted by eriko at 7:54 PM on January 27, 2015


The alleged cheating did not defeat the Colts, the Colts sucking hard defeated the Colts. GO PATRIOTS!!
posted by Renoroc at 8:28 PM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Colts turning in an utterly abysmal performance does not make the Pats cheating okay.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:40 AM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


If a compressor wasn't used, the balls were at 0psig, or 14.7psia. The increased pressure above ambient is an explicit statement that an air compressor was used. Otherwise, it would be impossible for the footballs to be over 1atm/0psig/14.7psia.

Sorry, I should have been more explicit - I meant that there has been no indication that an air compressor was used during the pre-game preparation or referee's inspection. The footballs are inflated during the manufacturing process, and were also inflated during the game by the referee. But for all we know, they may not have seen a needle from when they left the factory to until the middle of the first half of the game.

The Patriots have stated that they rely on the referee to ensure that the ball is at the lower limit during the pre-game inspection.
posted by Harvey Byrd at 3:35 AM on January 28, 2015


The Sharp article, which grabbed my interest earlier in the thread, has seen a number of less than glowing responses, many of which are summarized in this post at 538. Empath's suspicion that Sharp was cherry-picking his data (whether intentionally or not) looks to have been spot on.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 7:59 AM on January 28, 2015 [2 favorites]




Ah, didn't know that Warren Sharp was in the business of selling sports picks, so he's well acquainted with fudging statistics.
posted by empath at 8:55 AM on January 28, 2015


Also it is really weird for Sharp to be doing all his analysis with touches per fumble instead of fumbles per touch. For one thing, if you fumble twice in 100 chances and I don't fumble at all in 100 chances, it makes a lot more sense to say you fumbled 2% of the time and I fumbled 0% of the time than to say that you fumbled once every 50 chances and I fumbled ONCE EVERY *INFINITY* CHANCES OMG CHEATER.

Any rate statistic should naturally be looked at as occurrences/opportunity rather than opportunities/occurrence if you want to make any sense of it.
posted by dfan at 9:17 AM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]




But why would they cheat about something so stupid that is not likely to be all that helpful?

For the same reason that Nixon ordered the Watergate break-in despite the fact that it was completely unnecessary and there was no chance he was going to lose: Because some men just can't help themselves.
posted by Justinian at 11:37 AM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is anybody going to make a Marshawn Lynch post? And, if not, can we just talk about his, uh, media strategy here?
posted by box at 1:04 PM on January 28, 2015


heh. what box is referring to. starting around 1:40 he talks. kinda.
posted by twist my arm at 1:10 PM on January 28, 2015


The Lynch situation is somewhat confounding. One one hand, sports is entertainment, and the collective bargaining agreement has some language (that's probably never gotten a serious test in court) about how players have some obligations to the media. On the other hand, there's nothing worse than sports cliches, so for players who don't like to play the media game, I don't see how it's in anyone's interest -- the media outlets', the league's, the team's, or the players, to have them mindlessly reciting platitudes about how the other team is a great team, they're going to leave it all out on the field, etc. ad nauseum. There are plenty of players who don't mind it, and yeah, the fans want to hear from the big-name players, but if Marshawn doesn't have anything interesting to say about the game, or just doesn't like the spectacle of it, nobody's going to be able to force him to say something interesting, so they might as well give up and see what the long snapper thinks.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:19 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


there's a great post to make about lynch - lots of racist shit swirling in the media's treatment of him - but i almost hope we wait until after the superbowl so we'll hopefully have his reaction to winning the superbowl (again) and whether or not he laces up those gold cleats to add to the post...
posted by nadawi at 1:22 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


This profile from last year (and some of the links within) is pretty much the definitive piece on Lynch, IMO. I think this is just another situation that the league has bungled over the last year. Lynch comes out looking like a good guy, and I say that as a 49ers fan.
posted by muddgirl at 1:24 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Everybody Loves Marshawn Lynch, at Grantland, is pretty good.

(And I like this interview, where he says 'yeah' a whole bunch of times and then responds to a question about whether he has heating pads in his cleats with a fairly-detailed response about his youth foundation, even better than the "I'm here so I won't get fined" one.)
posted by box at 1:28 PM on January 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


lynch's espn e:60 was great.
posted by nadawi at 1:34 PM on January 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have questions about Marshawn Lynch which I have never seen covered, asked, answered. When he made that 67 yard touchdown run against the Saints which just about finished off the Saints in the playoffs in 2011, were the Saints paying bounties? Was there a bounty on Lynch? How much? How many tackles on that run were missed by Saints going for a bounty?
posted by bukvich at 2:00 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]




lynch's espn e:60 yt was great.

Oh wow. That was great. Thanks for posting it. His mother sounds amazing.
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:56 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Golden Eternity: FiveThirtyEight: Your Guide To Deflate-gate/Ballghazi-Related Statistical Analyses

[I'm thinking that link was supposed to go to this (instead of to an Atlantic article about "The Netanyahu Disaster").]
posted by koeselitz at 9:10 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sarah Jaffe: The subversive brilliance of Marshawn Lynch
Lynch's steadfast refusal to answer questions beyond a tight-lipped "Yeah" is beginning to look more and more like a job action. By showing up and saying, "I'm just here so I don't get fined," the Pro Bowl running back was engaging in what labor activists call "work-to-rule."
posted by tonycpsu at 9:15 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oops, yeah that was it Koeselitz (too many tabs open + poor brain function.)

I think Rasheed Wallace was one of the first to do this, when he answered every media question with, "both teams played hard, my man. Both teams played hard."
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:43 PM on January 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Bill Nye revisits the issue, in a video that takes a sharp right turn into 'Why are we even still talking about this'
posted by frimble at 12:53 PM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]




One of Simmons' mailbag readers is claiming Wilson was severely concussed during the NFC championship game. The embedded video is pretty scary. It was an interception return and Mathews blocked him helmet to helmet.
posted by bukvich at 7:25 AM on January 31, 2015


I think it's very likely he was concussed. The NFL says concussions are down 25% but that's mostly because teams aren't trying to hard to find them.
posted by drezdn at 8:45 AM on January 31, 2015




Sunday Night song happening now.
posted by box at 3:01 PM on February 1, 2015


SB live thread, this is as good a candidate as any. Chevy, going hard.
posted by box at 3:07 PM on February 1, 2015


John Legend loves America.
posted by box at 3:17 PM on February 1, 2015


I don't want you to feel like you're just talking to yourself, Box. Oh hey look, Adele Dazeem.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:19 PM on February 1, 2015


Aw, thanks, pup. And we can agree that America and vibrato are things that are good.
posted by box at 3:20 PM on February 1, 2015


How did Hauschka end up as one of the Seahawks' captains??
posted by mudpuppie at 3:25 PM on February 1, 2015




Jurassic World? How 'bout that.
posted by box at 3:29 PM on February 1, 2015


Marshawn Lynch has his Skittles ready to go! (And gold cleats in warmup, apparently).
posted by TwoStride at 3:31 PM on February 1, 2015


I thought this was interesting: Pete Carroll putting refs on notice about the ineligible receiver play and the NLF VP of officiating saying the Nate Solder TD against the Colts shouldn't have counted... Will be interesting to see if the Pats go for that play again.
posted by TwoStride at 3:33 PM on February 1, 2015


Interception!
posted by box at 3:53 PM on February 1, 2015


Thumbs up to Steve Buscemi as Jan Brady.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:54 PM on February 1, 2015


0-0 at the end of Q1? How 'bout that.
posted by box at 3:59 PM on February 1, 2015


At 10 psi that ball doesn't slip out of Brady's hand ;)
posted by Golden Eternity at 4:25 PM on February 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Holy shit, Bud Clydesdales tearjerker, then Cats in the Cradle, then Nationwide Dead Kid. We'll have the first 10 minutes of Up before halftime!
posted by dirigibleman at 4:30 PM on February 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have to admit, the look on the polar bear's face during the "First draft" avocado commercial cracked me up.
posted by TwoStride at 4:34 PM on February 1, 2015


then Nationwide Dead Kid'

I didn't like that. Why didn't they just go with Peyton singing about chicken parm?
posted by mudpuppie at 4:37 PM on February 1, 2015


OTOH, Walter White as a pharmacist gets two thumbs up from this guy.
posted by tonycpsu at 4:38 PM on February 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is a much better game than last year.
posted by dirigibleman at 4:58 PM on February 1, 2015


Lot of dad commercials. Someone pay me $275 to write a Time magazine "thinkpiece" about how this signals the dawn of "the age of the dad".
posted by codacorolla at 5:10 PM on February 1, 2015


"Girls' self-esteem plummets during puberty"

-- The menstrual pad company
posted by mudpuppie at 5:26 PM on February 1, 2015


The marketplace for "thinkpiece"s has plummeted. I suggest a HOT TAKE instead -- that's where the real money is.
posted by tonycpsu at 5:30 PM on February 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Now THAT was a halftime show!
posted by codacorolla at 5:32 PM on February 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Here's your head injury talk: Why is Edelman still out there?
posted by dirigibleman at 6:24 PM on February 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Edelman definitely looked shaky getting up, and still does.
posted by TwoStride at 6:27 PM on February 1, 2015


Apparently the medical staff has called down to the field to get him examined twice and they've ignored both calls.
posted by codacorolla at 6:37 PM on February 1, 2015


Edelman will be so happy when he sees that replay in a few weeks and finds out what he did.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:50 PM on February 1, 2015


Wow!
posted by Golden Eternity at 6:57 PM on February 1, 2015


JFC WHY WOULD YOU NOT GIVE IT TO BEAST MODE RIGHT THERE.
posted by TwoStride at 7:01 PM on February 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Paul Allen needs to fire every single person on the offensive coaching staff before the confetti stops falling.
posted by TwoStride at 7:01 PM on February 1, 2015


That was one of the dumbest play calls in SB history.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:02 PM on February 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Noooooooo
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:03 PM on February 1, 2015


Pretty much the ending you'd expect for this season.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:04 PM on February 1, 2015


Shame to see the Seaducks end it with the pushing and shoving. If they want to shove someone, it should be the gray-haired guy on their sideline with the headset and the play sheet.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:06 PM on February 1, 2015


Kurt Warner is totally baked.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:20 PM on February 1, 2015


I think the only thing the non-NE fans in the country can do to console themselves is to remember that the Seahawks essentially beat themselves, and that by all rights the Pats lost that game. Still, it was exciting and fun to watch, even if my least favorite team in the league bumbled their way into the win.
posted by codacorolla at 7:55 PM on February 1, 2015


I'm a Pats hater, but I don't buy that logic. Winning ugly is still winning. Winning because the other team lost is still winning. If the Pats don't get the go-ahead touchdown, there's no circus catch, and no chance for Pete Carroll to piss away the win. They didn't play a great game, but you have to make a lot of plays to get to the point where the other team chokes.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:08 PM on February 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


@PFF_NateJahnke: "Marshawn Lynch ran the ball from the 1 yard line 5 times this season. 1 TD, 2 runs for no gain, 2 runs for a loss."

NE's CB seemed to know exactly what was coming. Maybe Lockette or the Seahawks tipped off the play somehow. Someone said Kearse was supposed to make a pick but missed it.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:28 PM on February 1, 2015




They didn't play a great game

What? Both teams played out of their minds! Just, over-the-top, never-believe-it-in-a-sports-movie superheroics.

And, the Pats had Lynch figured out. All game, he was a factor, but not a big one. Russell Wilson making every damn long-bomb was what was doing it for them. It would be even odds Lynch would be stacked up or flat out stuffed at the goal line. Establish the pass threat, eat up time, then slam it home - it's smart football, and a good call.

What's lost in this is that Butler made one hell of a play - it wasn't a dumb pass. Wilson was prescient, sharp and on the numbers accurate. Butler forced himself in there like nothing I've ever seen, just exploding through the intended receiver's arms to claim the ball. It was utterly magnificent. To say "Oh, yeah, Pete Carol fucked it up" does a severe disservice to Carol, Wilson and Butler.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:37 PM on February 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


It was a dumb pass and Butler made a hell of a play.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:37 PM on February 1, 2015


Yeah, between Edelman tonight and Wilson in the NFC Championship, I think the offseason will see some tightening up of the concussion protocol as well as the ball preparation rules.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:02 PM on February 1, 2015


No, I disagree - I was like "Of COURSE Wilson threads that needle, yup, there it is. Right on the numbers, of course. Game over, Seahawks w...w...wwwwhhhhhaaaaa?"

The chattering class in sports media - who aren't Patriots aligned - are furious and demand a scapegoat.

There is no scapegoat. It was a smart football call. It was a fantastic pass, and a great reception. It was an ethereally good interception.

The local New England radio guys are in awe of the Seahawks, and if anyone but the rookie Butler is there, it's Tom Brady strapping on the helmet for an attempted 45 second march.

Similarly, my Dad called out the 'Hawks circus catch as "Lucky!" - he immediately changed his mind. It was presence of mind and pure talent that got the Seattle as far as they did.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:02 PM on February 1, 2015


Edelman wasn't concussed, he's coming off a back injury. Chancellor was doing his best to turn his spine into a pretzel with that hit, but it didn't look concussed, as he was very sharp and prescient for the entirety of the game. You can't make those cuts and jukes and fakes without a clear head. Getting the wind knocked out of you is a thing - I've had it happen, and man it sucks.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:10 PM on February 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


OK, well, we disagree. I believe calling a pass was dumb, and, having called a pass play, passing into traffic on that slant pattern was dumb. Yes, Butler had to make an amazing play, but NFL players make amazing plays. He doesn't have a chance to make that play if Marshawn carries the ball, or if Wilson tosses the ball into the seats and huddles up for third down.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:22 PM on February 1, 2015


Concussed or not (and my uneducated opinion is that he was), if the team was ignoring calls to have him undergo the sideline testing that's a problem.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:28 PM on February 1, 2015


After the past two weeks, I would take unofficial, anonymous reports involving the Pats with a gigundo grain of salt.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:53 PM on February 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


More on the Edelman question here, including the Detroit Free Press claiming they heard the ignored calls for a concussion protocol.
posted by TwoStride at 7:38 AM on February 2, 2015


Man, I thought it was such a great game from both teams.

If anyone understands the value of a smart defense (and a smart defensive coordinator), it's the Seahawks. This time, they got caught on the wrong side of it. Smart defenses make good offenses look bad, and that's exactly what the Pats did in the last play tonight. I was complaining earlier in this very game (when Carroll called for a long TD pass instead of a FG) how whether or not a play is a "good call" rests entirely on the outcome.
posted by muddgirl at 7:44 AM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


whether or not a play is a "good call" rests entirely on the outcome.

To casual fans and dumb sports writers, sure. To people who understand the game, I don't think so. If Lockette catches the ball, there would have been no shortage of writers lauding Carroll's (or Bevell's) think-outside-the-box brilliance for calling that slant, but those people would have been wrong, because there's just no defending that pass in that situation, especially when the post-game justifications have been so weak and self-contradictory. I also think there would have been plenty of writers complaining about the call for being a bad idea even if they'd won.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:11 AM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


because there's just no defending that pass in that situation

108 times out of 109 this year, an attempted pass from the 1yd line did not result in an interception. When Wilson looked in the backfield, his receiver was wide open on the slant (maybe now he knows, just a little bit, how it feels to throw against Richard Sherman). I'm having a hard time second-guessing any decision they made.
posted by muddgirl at 9:31 AM on February 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yes, but:
Before Sunday, NFL teams had thrown the ball 108 times on the opposing team’s 1-yard line this season. Those passes had produced 66 touchdowns (a success rate of 61.1 percent, down to 59.5 percent when you throw in three sacks) and zero interceptions. The 223 running plays had generated 129 touchdowns (a 57.8 percent success rate) and two turnovers on fumbles.

Stretch that out to five years and the numbers make runs slightly superior; they scored 54.1 percent of the time and resulted in turnovers 1.5 percent of the time, while passes got the ball into the end zone 50.1 percent of the time and resulted in turnovers 1.9 percent of the time. In a vacuum, the decision between running and passing on the 1-yard line is hardly indefensible, because both the risk and the reward are roughly similar.

The key phrase there, of course, is “in a vacuum.” This wasn’t a vacuum. This was the Seahawks and the Patriots, and while the size of the stage shouldn’t matter, the matchups should. As I mentioned in my Super Bowl preview, this was a matchup specifically built for running the football with Lynch in short yardage. According to Football Outsiders, the Patriots were the worst team in the league in power-running situations and fifth-worst in terms of stuffing the opposition for no gain or a loss. Seattle was the second-best power running team and the sixth-best team at avoiding stuffs. If there was ever a matchup that called for a team to live and die on the back of its running game from the 1-yard line, this was it.
The piece also points out that there's a big difference between Lockette looking open in a single screencap and actually being open given that Wilson had to load up and zip the ball in there against a speedy DB.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:03 AM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I thought it was beyond ridiculous that the first question Michelle Tafoya had for Robert Kraft immediately after was about the deflated balls non-story. Wow. Way to cap off a thrilling game. When they're doing highlight reels 10-15 years down the road, everyone is going to have to dance around how fucking embarrassing the coverage of this game was.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:13 AM on February 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


And if the pass was knocked away instead of intercepted, they'd have two more chances with Lynch in short yardage. I'm not saying it's the optimal call in that situation, but people are acting like calling a pass on 2nd and goal after your best runner just got stuffed on the 1 yard line is completely unheard of.
posted by muddgirl at 10:21 AM on February 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's not unheard of. It was a very bad play call.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:24 AM on February 2, 2015


Easy for me to say as a Pats fan but I don't really get the need to point fingers on that call. This is how the NFL works. Sometimes you lose on a sportscenter play. I'm not going to look at the tape or whatever but I've seen that play called by lots of teams, including the Pats. If you're on offense with your pass package in and the defense has their run personnel on the field, it's a red meat platonic ideal sort of mismatch. It doesn't matter though, if you're going to point fingers at bad calls, why start there? In any football game there are dozens of decisions which influence the outcome. What if Seattle had started the 2nd half with an on-side kick? What if, what if. What if he'd caught it? It'd be the best play call since New Orleans and their onside kick. (Which, had it failed, would be the worst play call in the history of the Super Bowl, until this one, right?)
posted by feloniousmonk at 11:12 AM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


felonius, I made a similar argument upthread just a bit, but I think you're taking that logic too far. We can't say definitively that any one play call (or, conversely, any one athletic play by a DB) lost (or won) the game. What we can do is evaluate each call within its context of what actually did happen during the game -- i.e. "given that Kearse did make the improbable circus catch, what was the right call?" The question of the right or wrong call on the 2nd down play has then been decoupled from the ridiculous improbability of that catch, or your onside kick counterfactual, or whatever, and it's perfectly appropriate to ask what was the best play in terms of expected value. We can't rewind the universe and replay the game thousands of times to determine it with certainty, but we can make statements about similar situations, look at how the teams are built for different situations, etc.

With these stipulations, I still think the case that the pass was a bad call is very hard to refute. Without them, we're just arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:29 AM on February 2, 2015


I think a more formal sort of analysis overlooks the psychology of coaches. In that moment, given the mismatch, you have a defense that is clearly expecting you to battering ram Lynch right in. You know this defense is extremely well coached and will be anticipating it. You don't have your own heavy package in. What you do have is an opportunity to maybe sneak some guys into the midfield on slants in the hopes of confusing their coverage. I'm not saying it was a good call, that's reserved for those which succeed, but I don't really think it's totally out of left field or anything like that.
posted by feloniousmonk at 12:00 PM on February 2, 2015


For me, there's also the idea that if you're really going to call a pass play in that situation (which I think was insane)... why on earth wouldn't you set it up to one of your better receivers? Chris Matthews torched the Pats all day. At least give him a chance at that!
posted by TwoStride at 12:01 PM on February 2, 2015


It was a very bad play call.

FiveThirtyEight runs a statistical/tactical analysis and says you're wrong. They also make the point that the stronger the claim that Lynch would definitely have scored on that play, the stronger the argument for making the pass play--because you don't want to leave time on the clock for the counterattack.
posted by yoink at 12:10 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Assuming arguendo that 538's different assumptions are as fair as they claim, there were more alternatives than simply slant or run up the middle that 538's analysis didn't (and probably can't) account for mathematically. If we take the word of Carroll and Bevell (and to some extent 538's argument about NE marching down the field with 20-ish seconds for the FG) that taking time off the clock was very important to them, then there are options like play action, read option, and naked bootleg plays that all take more time off the clock than both the Lynch run and the slant throw to Lockette that also get away from the strength of NE's heavy goal line package. The advanced football analytics don't have readily-available numbers for quantifying these in terms of expected value, but they are things we have to consider.

I'm not saying anything in particular in 538's analysis is way off, but the way they set it up with only two possibilities, while probably necessary for making a tractable problem, leaves out a whole lot of real-world variables that make the choice of that play call very suspect.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:32 PM on February 2, 2015


there are options like play action, read option, and naked bootleg plays that all take more time off the clock

But the aim isn't simply to take as much time off the clock as possible. The aim is to run a play with a decent chance of scoring (because scoring with time left is still better than not scoring at all) that still leaves enough time for two running plays AND which also has a low risk of turnover.

The turnover risk was extremely low; it happens very, very rarely in that situation. That it did, in fact, happen in this case is not proof that the play was a poor choice.

The 538 analysis certainly does enough to show that any claim that the play was obviously "very bad" is incorrect. It was a play that, like all plays, had its upsides and its downsides, but it is simply incorrect to say that it would obviously have been a better choice to opt for a running play at that point.
posted by yoink at 12:39 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


But the aim isn't simply to take as much time off the clock as possible. The aim is to run a play with a decent chance of scoring (because scoring with time left is still better than not scoring at all) that still leaves enough time for two running plays AND which also has a low risk of turnover.

That's not the aim as cited by Carroll and Bevell. Carroll talked about wanting to waste the play because they didn't like the defensive package. At some point, we have to take the head coach and signal caller at their word in assessing whether they made the right calls.

Furthermore, all of the plays I mentioned are plays Seattle runs very well, that would have given Wilson options away from the center of the field where the New England defense was understandably focused on stopping Lynch, and also took more time off the clock -- meeting every single metric you identify as success criteria.

The turnover risk was extremely low; it happens very, very rarely in that situation. That it did, in fact, happen in this case is not proof that the play was a poor choice.

Go argue that with someone who's making the claim that the turnover is relevant. INT or no INT, I see a run in that situation as the best play, but I acknowledge that's not a slam dunk. What is a slam dunk, in my opinion, is that you don't call a quick-hitting pass play into the middle of the field where all the defenders are.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:22 PM on February 2, 2015


That's not the aim as cited by Carroll and Bevell. Carroll talked about wanting to waste the play because they didn't like the defensive package.

They're talking about what they considered the likely outcome, but it's obvious that they hadn't given an instruction to the QB to throw a deliberate incomplete pass, say, which would be the easy way to "waste the play". He was trying to score; they just figured it was a low-risk, low-medium scoring opportunity which, if it produced it's most probable outcome (no score, no yardage gained, a little time knocked off the clock) would set them up to be in the best position for the higher-percentage running plays to come.
posted by yoink at 1:47 PM on February 2, 2015


Setting aside that it's not a given that runs on 3rd or 4th down would have been higher-percentage (as NE could have come back with the same or similar look on D) I feel like your interpretation of "waste the play" puts all the blame on Wilson for making a risky throw into the teeth of the defense instead of the coaches for not putting him in a position where he had to make that choice.

And having taken time to digest the 538 piece, I think it's some pretty weak tea. The assumption that really misses the mark is the notion that the Pats will perform as good or better than the average NFL team with only 20 seconds to play. In reality, Brady's strengths are working the middle of the field to Gronk, or short/medium crossing routes to the wide outs. Someone in comments elsewhere mentioned that the broadcast cited a stat that Brady was 1/22 in passes over 20 yards in the Super Bowl. Smallish sample size, sure, but the Pats' offense, though they'd had some success against the injured Hawks D, was probably a lot less than the 14% used in the analysis to win in regulation or overtime had the Hawks scored.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:10 PM on February 2, 2015


For me, there's also the idea that if you're really going to call a pass play in that situation (which I think was insane)... why on earth wouldn't you set it up to one of your better receivers? Chris Matthews torched the Pats all day. At least give him a chance at that!

The Seahawks WRs aren't exceptional and have difficulty beating man coverage. The game plan all day was to attack favorable matchups with Patriots corners. They stayed away from Revis and Browner for the most part, and Matthews was killing Kyle Arrington (who's generally great in the slot and the middle of the field) on the outside, using his 7-inch height advantage over Arrington. The Patriots replaced Arrington with Butler in the second half. On the interception, the Seahawks matched Lockette on Butler, the Pats' 4/5th best corner, and ran a play they thought would give Lockette room to catch the ball. They were wrong.

FWIW, if Arrington was on the field for that final play and was matched up on Matthews, a fade to Matthews would have been a good call (and would've put me straight into PTSD as a repeat of 2007).
posted by benbenson at 3:18 PM on February 2, 2015


Here's Belichick explaining to a Patriot defensive lineman what Seattle should've done on the play after the interception. If you'd reversed the roles on that play, I don't think Seattle would've drawn the Patriots offside. They would have had a shot at the safety and a shot to somehow wrench back a victory. Things like this are why I don't think it's worthwhile to get worked up over individual plays.
posted by feloniousmonk at 3:19 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


felonious, that video is from several years ago -- what on earth does it have to do with last night's game?
posted by tonycpsu at 3:21 PM on February 2, 2015


It's an example of the kind of coaching that is necessary to consistently win that is not encompassed in the act of calling specific plays. My contention is basically that Seattle just plain old got beat and it's not really because of one specific play. The game was full of opportunities to win. Same as when the Tyree-led Giants beat the Patriots.
posted by feloniousmonk at 3:36 PM on February 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, and again, I made a similar argument above. Sure, any number of other counterfactuals could have led to that play not mattering, but those things didn't happen, so the play did matter. The Pats didn't win because of one specific play, but that one specific play did happen. We can talk about that one play without losing sight of the fact that the Seahawks had many other opportunities that could have led to that play not being necessary.
posted by tonycpsu at 5:07 PM on February 2, 2015


I didn't say that it didn't matter. Obviously the play was important. What it was not, taken individually, is the sole reason that Seattle lost. Taken in the context of the game, it is a defensible call, albeit an unsuccessful one. The Patriots made the interception because they simulated them running it in practice, even. The media loves to push single issue narratives here like with any other subject and as with other subjects it hardly does the reality justice.
posted by feloniousmonk at 5:36 PM on February 2, 2015


Another stat that's come out is that Lynch is only one-for-five in punching it home in short yardage this year. Goal Line Defense is a different beast than open field defense, and the Pats are pretty good at it. Putting a pass play in the mix means they can't just load the box with every heavy body and run-stuffer on the team, giving the Seahawks flexibility in calling run (or if the look favors it) pass plays. Unfortunately, Butler studied the tape, recognized the look, and feasted upon the opportunity.

Everyone who despises the Pats are blaming poor coaching rather than excellent play for the way the game went, as if the Patriots sneaked their way to an undeserved win against the better team. (They're also blaming the refs for not calling DPI, ignoring the zebra interference where Revis was blocked by a clueless ref, and a botched roughing the kicker call at the beginning. Because the refs all wear Tom Brady underoos or some nonsense.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:17 AM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Esiason On DeflateGate: Coordinated Effort By Ravens & Colts To Embarrass Tom Brady

Ironically enough, and contrary to the initial report, only one of the footballs was found to be two pounds per square inch under the required 12.5 PSI threshold, with the rest being “just a tick under” the limit.

I'm not necessarily buying into the conspiracy theory angle, but that quote is pretty much exactly the outcome I expected here. What an embarrassment.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:10 AM on February 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's also come out that Edelman easily cleared the sideline concussion tests, the med staff wasn't ignored. A pretty vicious smear campaign against the Patriots in the past couple weeks, with insider connections in both the League and national media. Local sentiment is that it's Jim Irsay, but you'd think they'd be slower to point fingers after being on the crap end of that stick.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:09 PM on February 4, 2015


I'm having fun imagining the ESPN Sports Science segment where they try to simulate the locker room guy rapidly deflating footballs in the bathroom.

SimpsonsMaddow did it.
posted by Evilspork at 4:24 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


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