When thinking about the New England Patriots current “Deflategate” scandal, one can feel like Tevye from “Fiddler on the Roof.”
On the one hand, the Patriots’ balls were deflated, which would give Tom Brady and the New England receivers a distinct advantage over the Indianapolis Colts. On the other hand, there’s a slight possibility the balls were deflated by the weather.
Now, the NFL’s investigation into the matter is not yet finished, and it hasn’t been proven that the Patriots deliberately deflated the balls, but it seems pretty clear that they did. The real question is, if/when the Patriots’ culpability is proven, what happens to the team’s legacy?
The official punishment itself will likely be something along the lines of a fine and loss of draft picks. But only time will tell how the Patriots will be perceived by the public as the years go on.
There’s no denying the huge amount of success the Patriots have had throughout the 21st century. Throughout the Brady/Belichick era, the team has compiled 12 division titles, five Super Bowl appearances (now going on six), three Super Bowl wins and more playoff victories than some teams have had in their entire history.
But that success has been tainted, from the “Spygate” scandal back in 2007 to today’s scandal. The Patriots have had other controversies come up during their reign, whether it was the “Tuck Rule” game or using confusing formations that seemed almost illegal.
This raises the question of whether the Patriots are going to be remembered as a team of genius with unparalleled dominance in the NFL, or will they be remembered as cheaters who did whatever they could to get to the top, even if it meant breaking the rules?
My guess is, the stains on the Patriots’ record will always be there, but will get smaller with time.
Things like “Spygate” and the “Tuck Rule” still come up from time to time, but mainly when people want to discredit the Patriots for their success, the same way people bring up the arrests of Ray Lewis and Ray Rice when they want to discredit the Ravens or bring up “Bountygate” when they want to discredit the Saints or bring up the “Adderall” suspensions when they want to discredit the Patriots’ soon-to-be Super Bowl opponents, the Seattle Seahawks.
While those things remain controversial, people in general have come to remember those teams for their success, rather than the controversy.
I believe people will continue to bring up “Spygate,” the “Tuck Rule” and “Deflategate” for years to come, but over time, people in general will think less of these incidents and more about the Patriots’ winning ways during this time period.