Deflate-Gate (aka deflategate) is a hot topic, although nobody really knows what happened. Did New England Patriots QB Tom Brady tell someone to deflate footballs to make them easier to grip? Was coach Bill Belichick aware of it? Can footballs deflate on their own? Are the Patriots scumbag cheaters? Is the caldo de pollo on special today at Paisainos? So many questions, so few answers.
I decide to solve the mystery, and I google “air specialist.” First to pop up is United Air Specialists, based in Cincinnati. Not only are they specialists when it comes to air, but they’re united as well. They should know if the footballs were deflategated.
I call and push #4 to be connected to the human resources department. A humorless, joyless, possibly suicidal woman answers and says, “What would we have to do with air in footballs?” They are an industrial air filtering company. I suggest perhaps somebody more suited to discuss this urgent matter is available, maybe someone who has smiled once or twice in his or her lifetime.
She puts me on hold…for five minutes. Just as I’m wondering if she’s hanging me out to dry, someone picks up the phone but then hangs it up without saying a word. I call back, push #4, and get an answering machine. I leave a message, but I doubt I’ll hear back from Joyless Judy, who was probably too busy tying a hangman’s noose to pick up the phone.
Next on the Google page is Tulsa Air Specialists Inc.
People in Tulsa are friendly, maybe not intellectual giants, but friendly. And the good folks at Tulsa Air are self-proclaimed specialists. I call and quiz the office manager/service dispatcher named Betty.
Did the Patriots deflate their footballs?
“We’re a heat and air company,” she said.
You’re an air specialist; don’t sell yourself short.
“My thought on it is that somebody might have did it, but I don’t think Brady knew anything about it,” she said. “He’d be stupid to do that.”
Are you just saying that because he’s cute?
“No,” an emphatic Betty said.
Then she drops a bombshell, something only a genuine air specialist would know, something that could break this case wide open!!!
“Reports are saying that the ball was short two pounds, but two PSI is different than two pounds,” she said.
Reinvigorated in my research, I go back to Google, ready to take this investigation to the next level. Then a co-worker who overheard my phone call points me to two recent columns by sports analyst Warren Sharp — this one and this one.
Sharp devoured five years worth of statistics among NFL teams and determined that the Patriots rarely fumble. Ever. They fumble so rarely that it’s practically unbelievable, especially in a cold weather town. A deflated football is easier to hang on to than a fully inflated one.
In 2014, for instance, the team never lost a fumble at a home game, making them only the third team to do that in a quarter century. Even more telling, the Patriots ran the ball about 200 more times than the other two teams, making “the Patriots stand alone in this unique statistic,” he wrote.
Then Sharp dug deeper and saw that the Patriots’ supernatural ability to avoid fumbles dates back to 2007.
Then he noted that Brady, along with Peyton Manning, pushed for a rule change in 2006 to allow NFL teams to provide their own footballs at games. Sharp pulled out an old quote of Brady saying at the time, “The thing is, every quarterback likes it a little bit different. Some like them blown up a little bit more, some like them a little more thin, some like them a little more new, some like them really broken in.”
Add together all that circumstantial evidence, and Brady’s Boy Scout persona could easily be called into question. Some might even be tempted to categorize Brady and Belichick as cheaters.
I’m just wondering if Betty in Tulsa really knows what she’s talking about.