If Patriots are guilty of cheating, they should be removed from the Super Bowl

If Patriots are guilty of cheating, they should be removed from the Super Bowl

I understand that by now just about all of you are sick of hearing about Deflate-Gate. I understand that the media coverage of it takes away from, what is for many football fans, the single best sporting event of the year. I also understand that in the grand scheme of what’s really important in our little world, a few partially deflated footballs may not strike you as something to get worked up about.

And I’m totally with you on all accounts. Which is why I’ve been pretty quiet on the subject up until now. I hadn’t really cared about the issue one way or the other until I took a few minutes to gather my thoughts on it earlier today. And now? Well, now I think it’s pretty cut and dry: if the Patriots, or Tom Brady, or anyone on the team is guilty of cheating, New England should be removed from the Super Bowl.

It’s really very simple. I’m not enraged or even marginally angered by the controversy, and I’m not going to get upset if you disagree with me. Tom Brady was right when he said, “this isn’t ISIS.” In the big picture, it’s not a blip on the radar. But to the NFL, whose business is the game we all love, it should definitely matter. And just like in any game, there should be a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to cheating.

It doesn’t matter if the Patriots would have won the game anyway. If they cheated, they cheated. Don’t agree with me? Let me ask you something: if you and I were to play a game of poker for money and I took you for, say, a few grand, and later it was found out that I had cheated, you would want your money back, wouldn’t you? I sure hope so. Even if I only cheated on one hand and it really had little bearing on my overall haul, you’d want your money back.

It’s not that I believe the punishment for cheating in this case should directly mean elimination from the Super Bowl, but I do believe that if they are found guilty of cheating — and let me take this moment to say that my personal belief is that they did cheat — in a game that they ultimately won, then they should have to forfeit that win. Makes all the sense in the world. In fact, I wouldn’t argue with you if you suggested there be an additional punishment on top of that.

And if the Pats had to forfeit that win to the Colts, then it would mean Indy would be playing in the Super Bowl versus Seattle instead of New England. I’m well aware that Robert Kraft and Roger Goodell are buddies, as Richard Sherman pointed out, and I’m well aware that disqualifying a team from the Super Bowl with less than a week to play would make for complete and utter madness in the NFL world.

But I also don’t care. Cheating is cheating is cheating. And in any game, it’s the ultimate no-no. I don’t care if it’s you and your little brother playing Battleship on the floor of the living room. If you win and are then caught cheating, your win goes away. Period.

The argument has been made that there are probably a number of NFL teams who use or have used the same or similar tactics to gain a competitive advantage, so we shouldn’t get all worked up that the Patriots did it. This is a hollow point. If you got caught cheating on an exam in school, and your appeal to the dean was it was okay because other kids probably cheated, too, how do you think that would go over? I’m honestly curious.

Teams probably cheat in the NFL sometimes, I’m with you there. Heck, people cheat in life all the time, right? We drive more than the speed limit because we’re running late; we make excuses to our boss when our report is late; we call in sick for what we secretly know are really “mental health days”; heck, some people even cheat on their taxes or steal movies and music off the internet. Happens all the time, right? Right. But if you are caught doing any of those things, you pay the price.

Who knows, maybe the Pats will pay the price. Maybe the league will decide they were guilty of cheating and fine them, or even confiscate future draft selections. But unless the Commish takes away the win, he will be guilty of allowing a team to win a game they cheated in. Concerned about the integrity of the game? If so, the best course of action would be to set a hard and fast precedent that cheating will never, under any circumstances, be tolerated in an NFL game. Ever.

But that’s just my opinion.

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