The National Football League announced on May 6, 2015, that it had found evidence that the New England Patriots had purposely under-inflated eleven footballs for the American Football Conference championship game against the Indianapolis Colts in January 2015. Investigators believe that, before the game, locker room attendant Jim McNally and the Patriots’ equipment assistant John Jastremski probably released air from the footballs after a referee had inspected them. Although the Patriots won the game by 45-7, the outcome might have been different if the team had used normally inflated balls. The Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady has said he prefers deflated balls, and the NFL report also blames him for the cheating, which enabled the team to compete in the Super Bowl in February.
If this were an isolated incident, the penalties would not have to be serious. However, the Patriots also cheated in 2007 by illegally spying on opposing teams. Also, the NFL report cites text messages between McNally and Jastremski that imply that the deflation might have taken place during other Patriot games in 2014.
Because of the pervasive pattern of Patriot cheating, I feel that the NFL should impose strong penalties. I suggest that the NFL ban the Patriots from all post-season playoffs and from the Super Bowl for five years. Only a strong penalty like this will discourage this team’s staff from breaking the rules that other teams obey. Football games need to be fair, not manipulated by dishonest stakeholders.