NYTimes: No evidence that Patriots deflated balls

I’ve largely stayed away from the whole Deflategate mess here so forgive me if this has already been mentioned. An article in the NYTimes cites various sources to say there’s no evidence that the balls were deflated.

Most of the weight is given to an MIT professor (who, before someone complains, is a Phil. Eagles fan) and his research that destroys the NFL’s evidence but other researchers are mentioned.

For many NFL fans it won’t make any difference; as we’ve seen with topics like evolution we can easily ignore science if we don’t like the results. I can’t imagine that the NFL/Goodall will back down from their position but they are supposedly going to release the results of their PSI measurements from this season. That will be interesting.

But what about their plot to change the laws of physics in order to win so many coin tosses, or their control of the weather so it snows at playoff games? And we all know Brady is a cyborg. Really, are you going believe the random ravings of some scientist at MIT or the well reasoned and demonstrable arguments of some drunk guys at a bar?

Hey! Ixnay on the eatherway.

So - Goodell is a young-earth creationist?

Not really. The fact is that although Godell is a moron and a is utterly terrible at his job, the reality is that the Patriots (once again), almost certainly cheated to intentionally under-inflate balls. I don’t think this is a terrible crime, and I also think most NFL teams attempt to cheat or just do it by accident because they don’t know they are breaking rules. But the idea that the ideal gas law explains this whole situation is bogus.

First, let’s look at how this all came to a head. In 2006, the rule allowing visiting teams provide own footballs was approved by the rules committee. The reality is that there is no real reason to make this change beyond allowing a visiting team to dictate how they want their balls. The pretense would be that it prevents the home team from doctoring balls, but that makes no sense since the visiting teams would have every incentive to complain if that were the case. Now, I’ll let you guess who pushed for these rules changes. Surprise! It was none other than Tom Brady and Peyton “my wife uses HGH” Manning. Also note at the time, Brady said:

The above comment makes it pretty clear he at the very least concerned himself with the condition and quality of the balls.

Flash forward a few years to last year’s playoffs where the Ravens tip off the Colts about the Pats messing with the balls. The tip included an email which stated:

Now could it be a coincidence that this well known fact was later confirmed with a PSI check during the Colts game? Perhaps, but it would be pretty odd for that to be the case. Moving forward, we see the whole issue blows up to accusations of cheating which enables the NFL to get text messages from team employees responsible for inflating the balls. Here is a link to the texts which include damning comments including the fact that McNally even referred to himself as “The Deflator”. Read the texts. They make it very clear that the balls were constantly being manipulated and that Tom Brady is said to be involved and aware. Also note that Patriots officials refused to let their employees be interviewed after the texts came out, and that they tried to make laughably bad explanations for this transparent cheating. Also note that these two employees who are largely responsible for equipment which failed testing, sent insulting emails about the star employee, and cost their employer millions of dollars, were are reinstated at the request of the Patriots even though the NFL prohibited them from handling equipment. Odd that there weren’t fired, no?

The Pats say:

But have no explanation for comments like:

And if the texts weren’t enough, we have Brady then deciding to destroy his phone for some odd reason.

And of course, there is Brady’s complete bullshit excuse for destroying his phone:

The obvious issue with this explanation is that he gave them TWO phones, neither of which covered the critical period, later on. Why would he have two phones if he made a habit of having the phones destroyed?

You can read even more about this and other stuff in the Wells Report. The bottom line is that even if the ideal gas law states this theoretically could have happened by accident, the other evidence clearly points to deliberate action.

If I understand what you’re saying your argument falls apart right here:

As the NYTimes article says, the measurements of the footballs at the Colts game were consistent (and expected) with footballs inflated at the minimum, legal 12.5 PSI. In other words, the physical evidence from the Colts game shows that the balls were properly inflated at the start of the game. Arguing that the Patriots illegally deflated the footballs ignores the known facts.

Sorry, Deeg, you’re wrong. And as proof, I offer my statement that I just checked the pressure on a football in my garage and it’s underinflated. Sure, that football was never present in a New England Patriots game but neither were the footballs that Professor Leonard measured. So my evidence is just as relevant as his is.

Wait a minute. Is the argument being made that the psi readings COULD be explained by the Ideal Gas Law, so therefore they MUST have been? That’s how the article reads to me, understanding that I don’t know very much about the controversy.

That doesn’t sound terribly compelling or scientifically unbiased. Absence of evidence and evidence of absence and all that. Am I missing something?

Incorrect. One guy is alleging that could have been the explanation, not that it must have been. Just as a lawyer could argue a hypothetical murder victim in fact committed suicide since it’s technically possible to kill yourself. The issue is that such a thing does not at all explain the mountains of other circumstantial evidence. Further, it’s just an ex post facto rationalization. We don’t know the Pats inflated their balls to the minimum, while the Colts inflated them more to start. We don’t know that there should be any difference between the balls at all. We don’t know how many minutes the balls were exposed to cold air. We don’t know the temp in the room they were pumped. All of that is just smoke and mirrors used to support the a preselected conclusion.

Additionally, the issue about this being a known fact belies the claim that it is weather related. For multiple teams to know about this, and for it to have been caused by physics, the conditions would have to have been similar at other times. There is no reason to believe that to be the case given the changes in weather and the nationality of the sport.

I have to admit to not following this very closely. Is it true that the Patriots had a staff member referred to as the “deflator” in text messages, which was explained as him being interested in weight loss?

ETA: Whoops, I see that above. Pretty damning.

Their evidence is no more circumstantial than yours. This is just an exercise in faith for everyone involved.

The fact that both sides involve inferences doesn’t make them equal.

The inferences from the damning texts are pretty strong. Much stronger than the speculation that the balls might have deflated themselves.

“Circumstantial” doesn’t mean “it doesn’t prove anything.”

Part of the problem is that many people don’t put much weight in the “mountains” of circumstantial evidence. Some of it is suspicious, but IMO don’t rise to the level that would make any conclusion possible. The NFL also had the opportunity all year to gather and publish PSI information which would go a long way towards putting this to bed one way or the other.

If the Pats cheated with the PSI I will be right along side of others who condemn them. But what has been presented as evidence up til now is pretty weak sauce.

This is strange. I think you’re saying that the inferences aren’t strong enough to completely rule out the possibility of non-cheating explanations. And that’s true. But isn’t the best explanation for them pretty clearly that the guy was deflating balls for Brady? Assuming you agree, why should it be necessary to prove it beyond all reasonable doubt?

It’s actually possible for both of the following things to be true:

McNally occasionally deflated balls because Brady liked a thinner ball, and;
He didn’t do so at the Indianapolis game.

The argument is that the balls must follow the Ideal Gas Law, and that if the balls measured 11.3 PSI at field temperature then they must measure 12.5 PSI at room temperature. “There are suspicious text messages, so maybe the footballs didn’t follow the laws of physics” isn’t a conclusion available to us, brickbacon’s long-winded response suggesting just that notwithstanding.

Now, since we don’t know much of anything about how, where, or when the measurements were done, the data wasn’t recorded properly, and the gauges weren’t even calibrated in any way, none of this precludes the possibility of the Patriots releasing some pressure from the game balls after the refs checked them before the game. What it does is cast doubt on whether, even if the Pats were messing with the balls, those balls were outside the acceptable pressure range at all. But even that is still possible, since we don’t know how much (if at all) the Pats’ game balls warmed up in the locker room before they were measured.

But it’s a hard, cold, incontrovertible fact that a ball that measures 12.5PSI at room temperature will measure 11.3PSI at the temperature on the field that day. This isn’t an optional point of view; it’s a mandatory fact about how the world works.

So. Is there like a pool or something on which heinous crimes the Patriots will have committed when they win the Superbowl again this year? I’m thinking the chalk on the field wasn’t regulation white, or maybe the second string place-kick holder had an extra cleat on his left shoe, possibly a higher than regulation percentage of fabric softener in the Patriot’s uniforms. It has to be something.

No, I don’t agree, so your conclusion doesn’t follow.

But the main point is that no one has shown, to a reasonable level of proof, that any balls were artificially deflated. Until you have that, I think all the other stuff is pointless.

They’re deploying RF interference devices that mess with the other team’s headsets.

Not really, but various teams have been bitching about headset issues