I know what you’re thinking.
“Why isn’t anyone making a big deal about Jerry Rice being a cheater?”
The question isn’t just fair, it’s expected. After all, everyone and their mother had a stone to throw Tom Brady’s way during the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. And some of that criticism continued after Malcolm Butler’s Super Bowl winning interception.
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There was no way to avoid it. The Patriots were cheaters. Brady and Bill Belichick had tainted legacies. There would certainly be an asterisk next to their name this season. All because of an investigation into deflated footballs that the Patriots allegedly used in the first half of an AFC Championship that later saw New England out-score the Indianapolis Colts 28-0 in a second half played with “normal” footballs, whatever that means.
Heck, the NFL doesn’t even know what that means. And that’s always been the real issue with “Deflategate.”
Do I deny that Tom Brady likes his footballs a certain way? No, because, of course he does. That’s what happens when you allow teams to control their own footballs all season. Brady prepares them a certain way, officials check them out two hours before the game, and that’s that.
These officials never checked for the football’s PSI levels. It just never happened. Is that my opinion? Well, yes. But it’s also based on actual reports that checking PSI was not a regular occurrence.
So whatever Brady did to his footballs before the AFC Championship wasn’t anything new. He prepared the footballs like he always has. And as my ultimate message in this entire “Deflategate” fiasco goes: Every quarterback in the league prepares their footballs a certain way in order to get a better grip.
The “everybody is doing it” response just seems like a simple one. It’s just common sense. Unfortunately, for the Patriots, not many football analysts and critics wanted to use common sense leading up to Super Bowl XLIX.
And now, people in New England want to know why a Hall of Fame wide receiver with three Super Bowl rings isn’t receiving the same type of criticism the Patriots did after he admitted to using illegal stickum on his gloves throughout his storied 20-year career.
Rice even went to Twitter by saying, “All players did it! #equalplayingfield.”
It’s the same logic I used throughout all this “Deflategate” nonsense. Everybody was doing something to their footballs.
As expected, New Englanders want Rice to be labeled as a cheater. They want an asterisk next to his name in the record books. They want justice.
Me? I just want it all to go away.
Was Rice the only one to use stickum? Please. Is Brady the only QB who prepares his footballs a certain way? C’mon.
Heck, do the Atlanta Falcons have the only arena in sports that (allegedly) pumps in fake crowd noise? Even more laughable.
The “everyone does it” excuse may not be accepted by some. But it should be, because everyone is - in fact - doing whatever it is they’re being accused of here in these three situations.
So, as fired up as I was over the reaction to “Deflategate,” I’m willing to let Rice slide. And I’m willing accept Atlanta’s fake crowd noise.
But only if everyone accepts the fact that the Patriots aren’t cheaters.
Because just like Rice said about the stickum on his gloves. Everyone’s doing it.
Listen to “The Danny Picard Show” every weekday at dannypicard.com. Danny can also be heard weekends on WEEI 93.7 FM and seen on Comcast SportsNet New England.