When the initial news of under inflated footballs broke last January, I will admit that as a fan of the Patriots I was very concerned. Based on the only information available at that time, it certainly looked as if there was foul play involved. In the seven months since then it has become very apparent that it is not only ‘more probable than not’ that the Patriots were not guilty of any nefarious actions, but it was the NFL itself that is culpable for conspiring to deceive the public.

That leads to the question: why?

Since it became obvious that the only scheme in this whole sordid affair originated from the offices at 345 Park Avenue, I kept thinking that this was all about deflecting attention away from other issues. The NFL was being hit hard from multiple sides, and constant battering was taking its toll. Concussion lawsuits, Ray Rice and domestic violence, Adrian Peterson beating his four-year old with a switch – and another domestic abuse case (Greg Hardy) was still looming. Avert the bright lights of those cases with a fall guy. History showed that the public ate up everything – regardless of how untrue many of the reports were proven to be – for ten months when the Patriots filmed from an unauthorized area. Since they were still portrayed as the evil villain, why not go to the well once more?

Although that rationale is quite plausible, I am now inclined to fully consider that there is much more to this sham. Michael C. Horowitz of the Washington Post postulates that the negative press towards Goodell due to the Rice, Peterson and Hardy incidents – as well as the ongoing concussion revelations – placed the commissioner in a precarious position. Many openly wondered if he could continue in his position, and if he should be replaced. Horowitz astutely compares Goodell to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. Robert Kraft was becoming a powerful figure in the NFL while Goodell was losing his influence; this set-up put Kraft on the defensive and took away some of his credibility. Rather than forming an alliance to oust Goodell, now owners were picking sides against one another.

One other extremely relevant topic that Horowitz points out is the unholy alliance between the NFL and ESPN. The world wide leader has been a mouthpiece of the NFL’s from day one – from leaking the initial lie about football being more than two PSI below the minimum level, to never retracting that story, to their legal analyst giving outlandishly one-sided reports, and more. For the vast majority of NFL fans, they get almost all their information about the league from BSPN, with most of the remainder coming from the league-owned NFL Network. By controlling the information, Goodell controlled what most of the public thought about the incident. The boys at Park Avenue make the cold-war era Pravda appear to be moderately balanced in comparison.

Former NFL linebacker Dave Meggyesy sums it up well when he states that “Roger is a bumbler”.

“They’re in a box, and they’re the (expletive) league,” Meggyesy said with a chuckle. “They’re not going to back down. That kind of arrogance — where they’ll say, ‘We lost, but we didn’t lose’ — that’s the arrogance of power. They lose in court over and over and over, but to them, no, they never lose, and they’re not going to lose now.”