There’s an old street joke told among comics that is less about getting a laugh than it is about illustrating a point. It’s about these two stand ups who meet for the first time as they’re about to do a show together.
One says to the other,”Have you been working much?”
The guy replies, “Yeah. Quite a bit, actually. I just did a week headlining in Vegas.”
To with the first comic says “Huh. Funny. I haven’t heard of you.”
So the second comic continues, “Well, last month I did Kimmel. That went great. Then I was on Fallon. I killed. He invited me over to the couch, which he almost never does. Then afterwards his production company talked to me about doing a sitcom pilot. And I’ve got a Netflix special in the works.”
So the first guy says “Good for you. I’m surprised I haven’t heard of you. Have you worked anywhere else?”
To which the guy answers, “Yeah. The other night I did a show in the middle of nowhere in front of like 10 people. It sucked. They hated me. I ate my own dick on stage.”
And the first comic says, “That’s it! I HAVE heard of you!”
The point being that, negative stuff gets around. As the old saying goes, “Bad News has been around the world while Good News is still putting its pants on.”
Which brings me to the reason for this blog. To make sure that a very important bit of Good News gets some of the same attention as the alleged Bad News that circumnavigated the globe not long ago. Remember one of the subplots of the whole Deflategate witch hunt was that the Patriots under-inflated footballs were easier to hold onto, which explained their preternaturally low fumble numbers? And that once the NFL cracked down on their nefarious, cheating ways, those footballs would be coming loose on the regular, just like they do everywhere else? You know, the one that Ted Wells alluded to in The Wells Report and perpetuated by guys like this:
Source – The 2014 Patriots were just the third team in the last 25 years to never have lost a fumble at home! The biggest difference between the Patriots and the other two teams that did it was that New England ran between 150 and 200 more plays this year than those teams, making the Patriots stand alone in this unique statistic. …
[T] the Patriots’ performance in wet weather home games mysteriously turned ridiculous starting in 2007. In 2006, they went 0–2. From 2007 onward, they went 14–1. …
Could the Patriots be so good that they just defy the numbers? … Or maybe it’s just that they play with deflated footballs on offense. It could be any combination of the above.
But regardless of what, specifically, is causing these numbers, the fact remains: This is an extremely abnormal occurrence and is not simply random fluctuation.
Funny thing about that. It made for one hell of a compelling storyline. The foil hat crowd loved that part of the conspiracy. The Shaughnessys and Felgers were connecting Patriots fumbling stats and old running back depth charts with red string and seeing patterns emerge:
And the Pepe Silvia at the center of it all? Tom Brady’s preference for footballs at the lower end of the league-mandated psi range. (A range, by the way, that comes from the recommended levels on the back of goddamned box Wilson footballs come in.) THAT was the reason. Not that the team places a greater emphasis on ball security than any other team. Not because from Day 1 of Rookie Camp Bill Belichick starts hammering away the message that when you’re holding the ball, you’ve got the fate of the team in your hands. Or that the coaches made Stevan Ridley a healthy scratch for two games in 2013, a year after he ran for 1,200 yards, because he was struggling with Chronic Fumblization. But because, thanks to Brady bribing The Deflator and Dorito Dink, the balls were Nerf-level squishy. And once the NFL put an end to that chicanery, Patriots footballs would blissfully litter the field from one sideline to the next and justice would once again reign across the land.
Except not one of those things was ever true. With credit to these Twitter followers who have been doing a lot of heavy lifting researching this matter, let’s dispel some myths.
Myth 1: The Pats were fumbling less than other teams because they’re home balls were doctored.
Truth: They actually had a lower rate of fumbles on the road. From BackPicks:
Myth 2: Footballs at proper psi levels would settle the Patriots hash but good!
Truth: They’ve had better ball security since Deflategate.
Myth 3: Their fumbles might or might not go up, but by gum, their turnover sure will.
Truth: The Pats turnover rate has been lower in the last four seasons than it was prior to Ballghazi.
Myth 4: Well, Brady needed those doctored footballs. Now that they’re all being put under the microscope of Roger Goodell’s crack inspectors like the DNA on a bedspread at a crime scene, just watch his numbers drop off.
Truth: First of all, the very next season, the officials for a game at Gillette left the game balls in their hotel room and had to get the concierge to retrieve them and have them rushed to the stadium. Second, and much more importantly, Brady has improved:
In conclusion, while I’ve seen enough of the world to know that people are never going to let good news get in the way of a good story, I for one will die before I let the truth be ignored. The 2019 season is less than two months away, but I have never left my post. Still Defending that Wall.
In Shaughnessy’s own words, Just sayin’.