Why Do Fans Excuse the Patriots’ Cheating Past?

It turns out, they can’t help themselves. It’s human nature.

Comments: 185

  1. First point: It's far more disturbing to many if not most Patriot fans that Brady, Belichick, and Kraft are Trump supporters than that they have cheated.

    Second point; the NYT didn't seem to mind Alex Rodriguez's cheating in its effusive coverage of the cheater at the beginning of this past season.

    Third point: this article talks about Boston fan bias, but what's evident from the article is NY - and anti-Patriot - fan bias. The reporter doesn't seem to have enough self-realization to consider the possibility that it is *his* moral compass which is defective and biased. Why does the NYT and many NY fans continually find it necessary to denigrate the Patriots? Why is this article dressed up as objective when it's just whining? Could it be the reporter is just a sore loser?

  2. Well said. You have captured precisely my thoughts about the clear anti-Patriots bias of the NYT that has been spouted for years. Is this even a story? As much as people like to claim that Belichick and Brady are cheaters, there isn't an NFL team or fan base that wouldn't openly welcome either of them to their organization. Play the game and let the amazing talent speak for itself.

  3. Well said, abo. The NYT is predictably hostile to New England sports teams. but glosses over the NY teams' sins. For a newspaper that prides itself in being a national voice, the Times is surprisingly slanted and parochial when it comes to New York--New England sports rivalries.
    On the other hand, there is the opportunity to pander to all the hyped up anti-Patriot sentiment in the country. The latter is very tempting for second-rate sports writers and radio sports talkmeisters.

  4. Well, there is definitely some "whining" going on around here...

  5. This article is total nonsense. The Patriots were not 'caught' deflating footballs: the scientific evidence demonstrated quite conclusively that the footballs lost pressure because of the temperature drop, not because of any action by Patriots' players (Brady) or locker room attendants or anyone else. And as for their previous offense: yes they were caught cheating and punished ... and many other teams have been caught cheating and punished ... and more often than the Patriots.

  6. The Super Bowl trophy is named after a coach who once said "Winning isn't everything. It's the only thing."

    Fans will excuse anything as long as their guys bring home another trophy for the trophy case. As Jay Pritchard once observed on Modern Family "Guilt fades. Hardware is forever.

  7. But we cannot excuse Belichick and Brady for their support of Trump. People in Massachusetts will suffer. The two have no regard for the people who support them. Why do they support Trump? Selfish macho types flock together.

  8. Morality behind closed doors usually rings hollow.

  9. Actually one's morality is how one behaves when no one is watching.

  10. What bothers me about this article is that it is based on the supposition that they actually cheated. I admit I'm a life long Pats fan - all through the bad years, enduring them being called the "Patsies" and ecstatic when they won their first Super Bowl. But I'm not blind either. I was bothered by the deflate gate story - and I read a lot about it. What I discovered was that there was a robust and convincing group of scientists and analysts that seriously questioned the facts as the NFL set them forth. And the degree of punishment far exceeded any precedent for this type of offense. This was never a cut and dried situation. Since then, several other teams have been charged and fined for various types of "cheating". I'm not saying that excuses either the Patriots or those teams - just that the nature of the game is that teams and players are constantly pushing the envelope - it's part of the game. What's hard for me is that the Pats always seem to be judged so harshly compared to everyone else. There are many reasons for this: envy, Bilichick's distain for seemingly everyone and everything but his team, and the general obnoxiousness of the Boston fan base. But to say we blindly look past facts just isn't true.

  11. So happy to see an article that is not political!

    I think that the heart of the matter is the trend to create an enemy from a competitor, then to make a case against that enemy demonizing them, without forgiveness, reconciliation with the amends that have been made or reference to any context. It is sad for all concerned because I love to watch good competition and I do not see it as a zero sum game for fans or players - in this case, football, it is entertainment and jobs, not right and wrong, true and false, good and evil. Just a bunch of men playing a game for TV money.

    The crap that is consuming politics today, the side that loses an election moving from a minority party to a loyal opposition to a 'resistance' that is demonized and demonizes in return is another symptom of this trend, and an unhealthy one. A first step back might be to take down the whole label of 'cheaters' and the inflammatory passions that raises, and simply enjoy a really good game between two good teams with solid players who shake hands after the game and go home to their families and who respect each other and the game. That, in my view is what we need to see in Washington, too.

  12. John?

    You are decidedly in the minority. Sports are MEANT to elicit great emotion. Do you have cheerleaders with pom-poms exhorting you to do the BEST job you can every day at work?

    This is a time when it’s okay to be human, to be with like minded individuals who would never be friends with outside a stadium or arena--just coming together to cheer for YOUR team, to applaud super human plays that we can only dream of doing. To cheer like a maniac and maybe yell “You suck!” that we REALLY can’t do in our normal everyday lives.

    We still remember the “shot heard round the world” “Miracle on Ice” “I’m the luckiest man alive”---all times of great emotion whether gawd-awful depression or one of the finest moments of our lives!

    It’s about having PASSION and it’s okay to show it!

    It’s about being human!

    You want to see passion at its best? I just watched the movie “Sully” yesterday-watched the hi-def DVD three times. And EVERY time I cried with joy watching humans, yes New Yorkers, at their BEST.

    We ALL need passion in our lives. It won’t be “Wuthering Heights” but we can all enjoy that one handed catch in the endzone OR watching NY Giants’ Eli Peyton escaping three tacklers to hit wide receiver Tyree to win the 2009 Super Bowl against (oh gee!) the NE Pats!


  13. A better article would center on the psychology of envy. "Spygate" involved the trivial issue of from which place in a stadium taping of the game could be done. There is no reason to believe any advantage at was obtained, Belichick shrugged it off, paid the fines, and unlike the teams that consistently lose to the Patriots, moved on. The deflategate non-sense simply never happened. The NFL had no rigorous way of checking the pressure of the footballs, used several different gauges and found the Colts balls deflated as well. Other teams have manipulated the balls and received warnings. But the owners pressured Goodell to whack the Pats and its good business all around. The losers can cling to these distractions, it's understandable, its easier than admitting inferiority, but the Pats will be "on to the Super Bowl".

  14. Science does not support the notion that any cheating occurred with Deflategate. No air was missing from the balls if one applies the ideal gas law to the measured pressures. Listen to an MIT professor explain the science here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwxXsEltyas.

    The national failure of the news media to push back against NFL lies is an example of how "fake news" has taken over our society. Science has been expelled from the national dialogue. Sadly, the NYTIMES continues to cover lies rather than report accurate information.

  15. Speaking just of Deflategate, that shameful episode was exposed by eminent statisticians and physicists to be a load of malarkey, an embarrassment for the NFL and Goodell who didn't even have the decency to admit he was wrong. But what do you expect from a league of billionaire that extort cities to pay for their extravagant stadiums? Or who ignore the physical damage done to their players until forced to take some pathetically inadequate action? Or who wrap themselves in the flag while charging the Pentagon for it? Get the point, the whole league is shady.

  16. It's definitely true that the average Pats fan is incapable of criticizing the team's behavior. But it's just as true that fans in the rest of the league are just as eager to explain the Patriots complete domination by saying it's because they're cheaters. The two incidents the Pats got busted for had nothing to do with them winning four super bowls. Bill Belichick IS a mastermind, Tom Brady is superhuman and the rest of the organization really is a model of perfection.

    Is there no room for the possibility that the Patriots have cheated in the past and may do so in the future, but are also an incredible football team with brilliant coaching and good management?

  17. All true, except they did win their first Super Bowl by videoing the Rams' workouts. They got a couple hand slaps for it, and Goodell ordered the tapes destroyed. This was by far their worst cheating, but somehow that treachery has slipped from the conversation.

  18. Are you sure about that? I'm pretty sure Matt Walsh said it didn't happen. He's the guy who said it did happen, then said it didn't.

    So which is it?

  19. I'm not sure you can extrapolate test results from New England with the entire population of Homo Sapiens. It could be that horrible weather, poor diet and a lack of courtesy lead to an infantile group attachment and propensity to lie and cheat. If the same study was run in Atlanta, you would see righteous and moral people. Go Falcons.

  20. This is also cheating:

    The Atlanta Falcons forfeited a fifth-round 2016 draft pick and were fined $350,000 by the NFL for using artificial crowd noise during games at the Georgia Dome over the past two seasons.

  21. That's true. That was cheating. And we got penalized.
    But we didn't cheat and then pretend we didn't do it, and act like we were the victims.
    And I wouldn't keep bringing up your cheating every chance you get like it's some sort of badge of honor.
    You're a great football team. You didn't have to do those things. Say you're sorry. Own up to it like men.

  22. A just punishment. Winning post-season games through even more blatant cheating should result in something more severe -like forfeiture of victories.

  23. They tried to sting the Patriots and it blew up in their face. That's what happened.

  24. Oh please. Cheating?? Filming your opponents and soft footballs are hardly that. What really annoys, especially those morbid Jets fans, is the continued, uninterrupted and total domination of that division - and gang green - by the B&B era of the Boston/New England Patriots. The current NFL bureaucracy hates innovation, detests the unmasking of its parochial status quo and absolutely shakes wth the violence of snake charming Elmer Gantrys when they are given the finger by any of its mavericks. Al Davis was one such string-puller; these Patriots are another. Kudos to them! Blow the falcons out by halftime and show no mercy. I might have empathy for the embarrassed falcon players, but putting a thumb in the eye of the league is reason enough for dancing in the streets, or at least, around the coffee table.

  25. Well, Tarkenton, filming your opponents practices and drills, and deflating footballs are cheating, as plainly expressed in the rulebook. Don't know what your profession is, but you definitely show talent for spin doctoring. Trump can always use help tampering with the facts.

  26. HPS:
    You've outed me! Cool name you chose btw...

  27. Why does the NY media refuse to report on the Giants ongoing cheating: deflating balls, tampering with undrafted college players, illegal helmet hits to the ribs?

  28. The psychological mechanism at work in the cases described, also affects politics, religion, press, courts, criticism, and education; not to mention breast feeding!

  29. My thoughts exactly. It's tribalism and the more it's rewarded, the more intense the rivalry.

  30. What I can't stand about the Patriots is that the punishment doesn't fit the crime. How are they allowed to keep their championships when they were proven to have cheated in those years? "Cheaters never win" you learn growing up. Not in this case.

    For example, an Australian football (rugby league) team had its championship win taken away for violating the league's salary cap rules. There is now no champion from that year. In my view that is the only fair punishment.

    I'm not even really a big football fan, I am just a fan of fairness. So today, I say Go Falcons.

  31. This article is ridiculous. The story is why Colts executives can get away with exploiting personal relationships in NFL HQ to use prejudice and jealousy against the Patriots, and the NFL leadership took that prejudice and false accusation to the max. That's cheating at the highest level and it's the majority culture in America now. No wonder the country is in the situation we are in. Write about that.

  32. Thank God for this article.
    I think Brady cheated in every Playoff Game of his career.
    Deflating footballs was his thing.
    And the fact that one single ball not deflated, out of 12,
    tells you their "explanation defense" that "the cold did it",
    was false and Brady knew it was false.
    11 balls cannot be deflated by cold and one ball not.
    So Brady is also a liar.

  33. So deflated balls is the excuse that the New England team is in the Super Bowl but no New York team is?

    I say humbug! New York lost fair and square.

  34. Did Brady deflate the Colts footballs as well?

  35. Sounds like a deflated Browns fan(Pun intended). My opinion is that Brady probably was in some way involved in deflating the footballs. I still think the punishment didn't fit the "crime". Akin to a long prison sentence for a speeding ticket. From what I could find, the actual NFL parameters for the amount of air pressure in the footballs was totally arbitrary. It calls for between 11.5 - 13.5 PSI. Where did they come up with this #? If Brady likes the PSI a liitle lower, and Arron Rodgers a little higher, who cares. Nobody ever complains against the real cheaters in NFL. Performance enhancement drugs. A defensive linemen taking it bulls over an offensive linemen that is clean,sacks the QB. Thats cheating!

  36. I would like to know the source of the psychological experiment that began this article. I spent 30 minutes searching for it and found research that indicated a far higher percentage of human beings would opt for fairness when the outcome was only known to them.

    It is important that the author's information is accurate on this because the cynicism promoted by the premise that such a high percentage of human beings cheat when free from fear of exposure is of much greater social import than the rest of the trivia that constitutes this article.

  37. In the "experiment", the 90% who said they had acted fairly were not "lying". They had, in fact, followed the rules that the experimenter had given them. Therefore they had acted "fairly". If they had broken the rules but said they had followed them, then they would have been lying. Nor is rule-breaking necessarily cheating. If a baseball player runs outside the lines to avoid a tag he should be called out - he has broken a rule. But has he "cheated"? Put another way, if a Yankees player runs outside the lines to avoid a tag, is he cheating? Or is this another "thought experiment"?

  38. It's not about ignoring the negatives, it's about not wanting to dwell on them forever. Most teams have bent the rules; the Pats are probably the best team right now; Brady was railroaded on "Deflategate"; people are poor sports and bad, bad losers.
    The entire Falcons team has more respect for Brady and his coaches than you do. And a lot of innocent players on the Pats are being tarred with same whiners' brush as purported cheaters. Enjoy the game.

  39. The psychology at issue is well known, and no doubt New England fans (I am one) don't view the facts the same way as non-NE fans. But the entire issue is far more complicated. Many if not all NFL franchises have broken rules, important ones from cheating the salary cap to communicating with players in illegal ways. So, equally interesting is how so many non-NE fans are so sure that Bill and Brady are devils incarnate. Success is a factor, and you entirely miss it. Also interesting is how Goodell is still widely (outside NE) loathed, and in part from they way he went after Brady, and that is neglected as well.

    And I agree with abo that the Trump connection is more disturbing than any other past behavior.

  40. As a teacher I'm more than familiar with that popular American piece of folk wisdom; "If you're not cheatin', you're not tryin'"

    So, I leave the ultimate judgement to God.

    Go Pats !! :)

  41. Not exactly. Most Pats fans acknowledge that Spygate happened and that it was wrong--but that it probably didn't help the Pats all that much, anyway (which is debatable).

    Most Pats fans also believe that Deflategate is different--that it was trumped up (no pun intended) by a league office that needed to over-punish the Pats to satisfy the wrath of the other team owners who felt the Pats hadn't been punished harshly enough for Spygate.

    It's pretty obvious in both cases, whatever else you believe about them, that the Pats are able to win without any "cheating." If you think the Pats are winning only, or mainly, because of cheating, your thinking is probably being affected by biases of your own. (Probably a similar process to that mentioned in the article.)

    As far as Kraft, Belichick, and Brady supporting Trump--that's having a major effect on me and on many Pats fans--enough so that the outcome of tonight's game will matter less to us than the Superbowl games in the past. Many of us are more worried about justice for immigrants, a kind society, and avoiding war than the outcome of a football game.

  42. @Jimfromnextdoor: Completely agree with you.

    By some strange coincidence all my closest friends from grad school are Patriots fans and their defense closely mirrors what you wrote. In particular about Spygate: it didn't help the Pats much.

    I've enjoyed forwarding them all Bill Maher's rant about supporting the Falcons today. Given that they all vote Democrat, I'm pretty sure they are quite conflicted about today - whether or not they admit it!

  43. Jim, how is it "obvious to people that "the Pats are able to win without any "cheating"?" Are you saying that the fact that they haven't been caught cheating in the current season proves they aren't cheaters? Does that mean that an unfaithful wife or husband who hasn't been caught cheating in the current year is no longer a cheater? Does the "cheater" clock reset at the start of every year or season? Because - if it does - then there must be a serious uptick in room occupancy rates at "No-Tell Motels" in December of every year.

  44. Spot on

  45. I'm a neutral (non-Patriot) fan, but it seems to me that the leap from this silly coin-flip experiment to "Patriots fans excusing cheating" is either disingenuous or just non-sensical. There's no doubt that the writer has no idea what the Patriots were punished for: 1). Videotaping opposing coaches - from the wrong part of the stadium. -- a refinement of the videotaping rule just made illegal that year. Yes they violated it and deserved a punishment, though a 1st round draft pick and 500000$ was harsh. NO ONE thinks that videotaping had anything to do with their success. Didn't they go 19-0 the next year?
    And the deflated footballs thing weren't there studies showing that fi led conditions may have caused a slight deflation? Weren't the Colts balls not tested? Wasn't the score 43-8? Does anyone think those balls had anything to do with anything?
    Players and coaches know the Patriots success has nothing to do with anything but having a great owner, savvy player management, maybe the greatest QB of all time and probably the greatest coach of all time. They're the smartest guys in the room. And that's the SAME reason why Other Teams' Fans hate them. They win. A lot. And there's nothing they or their teams can do about. So they cry sorcery, like some medieval inquisition or primitive Stone Age mob.

    And no sophomoric psych pseudoscience can dress up one of the basest of human emotions, jealousy. But apparently it can you published in the NYT!

  46. The Best! Geez, if you were a running back I could've used your tenacity all those years of scrambling...scrambling. Btw, I was right about Joe Kapp!

  47. And to think they wanted to tar and feather Belichik in Cleveland.

  48. It's the NFL itself that is corrupt. Instead of making transparent and open attempts to ensure 'competitive balance' like other sports organizations, they use stupid boys club allegations that play out like a soap opera.

    This helps keep fans interested during their absurdly long off season. The league also undermine their players, under paying them when compared to other major sports despite being much more unsafe.

  49. The Falcons were found guilty of piping in extra crowd noise for two seasons and were fined $350,000 and lost a 2015 draft pick. That sounds like cheating. Since their home record was not good those two seasons I guess no one cared. Last December the Giants reported to the NFL that the Steelers had under-inflated balls (sound familiar?). Goodell quickly dismissed the claim.

  50. Very good points. It's only cheating if the Patriots do it. This article feels like a post on a Jets forum, except with much better usage of the English language.

  51. Hello? You are citing psychological studies as hard science while ignoring an MIT physicists two hour long explanation of ACTUAL science that explains why the balls could not have been deflated. The truth is often in the middle: the Patriots push the boundaries of the rules during games and clearly violated a league rule by videotaping opposing coach's signals from field level with disguised cameras. And they used the eligible receiver reporting rule in a way that defied the spirit of the rule. But they have been falsely accused of filming opponent's practices, jamming opponent's headsets, stealing play books, and deflating balls. A psychological study on professional envy would be just as valid as the one you cite here.

  52. Spygate was an issue because of where the Pats filmed from, not because they filmed. This article needed more accuracy.

  53. This article is completely biased and insulting to the Patriots. All I see is a hard working team capable of athletic miracles. This article covers two weak points and nothing else. I should write for the Times. Worst article I have ever wasted my time on.

  54. John G., thank you! Too much in the article is about not merely accuracy but objectivity.

  55. It really doesn't matter were you live and cheat, does it? Granted, Tom Brady is a great quarterback and Bill Belichick is an awesome coach. The very simple reason why there were no punishments is because of the NFL money making machine needs that grease- if two of the most talented individuals in the company are sidelined, well, then what happens? Reputations will be destroyed, wins will be lost and the NFL will loose money. A simple slap on the hand will suffice. Patriot Fans turned the other cheek because they just cannot handle seeing their darling quarterback and coach being punished.

  56. There were punishments for Brady and the team. Brady lost 25% of his regular season salary, since he didn't play 25% of the season, and the team was fined a large amount also. The seats were empty when Brady didn't play? No they sold out.

  57. When I found out that the owner, quarterback and many others within the team were major supporters of the 45th, that ended it for me. They had my cheers for the Superbowl until then. GO ATLANTA!

  58. Why do Trump supporters continue to support him despite his immortality, ignorance, and narcissism? Loyalty, like faith, is blind.

  59. "immortality" ? I hope not.

  60. Why, because Hillary is worse, just more subtle. At least you know his thinking.

  61. Dear Stephen, I presume you meant "immorality" and not "immortality." An "immortal Trump" would be the stuff of nightmares.

  62. This article is trying to make out of a game an exercise in moral reflection. While there have been two famous cases of "cheating" related to the Patriots, the author suggests that Patriot fans should rent their garments over the incidents. Trying to find out the strategy of the opposite team is inherent in all games. The guy in centerfield who tries to spot the catcher's signals or the hiring of an expert lip reader to see what the coach is saying, is "cheating". Notice that players and coaches cover their mouths to prevent disclosure of their strategy. Is the studying the opponent's game tapes a way of getting an unfair advantage. Is holding a player not carrying the ball in a football game another way of cheating? Is knocking down an adversary to prevent a goal a form of cheating? The moral lines are kind of blurred when dealing with modern sports. It used to be that in tennis you only applauded a good shot, now people applaud the opponent's double fault With respect to fans who forgive and forget all game transgression, there isn't a fan alive (maybe a couple) that wouldn't prefer a victory achieved "irregularly", than an "honorable" loss.

  63. if a team uses banned ways to find the game plan of another team YES it is cheating. The guy in center field is on the same team as his catcher. If YOU knew baseball you would know the 2nd basement usually signals the catchers signs to the outfield so he can adjust his position a sto wher ethe ball might be hit be it to the left or right. Lip reading is NOT banned by baseball hence they use gloves to cover their mouth. Studing games tapes is common in ALL professional sports because its LEGAL. Holding a football player in football is usually followed by a penalty. Is it cheating or just rule breaking hence a penalty? As is knocking down a player to keep from scoring . The tennis thing is really dumb since cheering when or why is up to the fans not those playing the match. It use to good etiquette for certain times to cheer like holding open a door for a woman. But after an elderly woman cursed me out telling me she was capable of doing it herself, I stopped that. They still tell the fans to be quiet on the serve. if they don't what would they do? Sports are not defined by any moral codes since morality is personal and is not codified into laws. Sports are run by agreed to rules by what ever governing bodies.

  64. I am not referring to a center fielder, but to the guy sitting in the stand with binoculars. The point is that the article seems to criticize Patriot fans for not being bothered by the cheating, when fans don't care how their team wins, ugly or not.

  65. Excellence is always rewarded with someone on the sidelines trying to make a name for themselves explaining it away to make others, at lower levels of performance, feel better. And as for "many patriot fans," I've never met anyone who roots for a team, quarterback, or coach based on their political preferences. Beyond being irrelevant in terms of performance, it's a sad commentary that people can't even enjoy sports when they're unhappy with a free election.

  66. "We do know that love can be blind."

    Certainly, the same can be said about hatred. And jealousy.

    The columnist fails to mention that, in the deflategate "scandal," the outcome of the game was not changed, and the "evidence" against Brady was beyond flimsy. His punishment was a tremendous miscarriage of justice.

    I am, by the way, a long-time resident of New Jersey, home of the Patriot-hating Jets, and a lifelong fan of the Detroit Lions, the team of my youth. I have no innate love of the Patriots, but I appreciate their excellence, which is a product of far more than whatever minor cheating they may (or may not have) engaged in.

    I will be rooting for Bill and Tom today.

  67. The Patriots and their documented predilection to cheat represent a more disturbing cultural and social disease embodied by most Americans over the last 3 decades - cheating, lying, and stealing, as well as abandoning all ethical and moral values in their never-ending and ruthless pursuit of "winning" by any and all means necessary. Which might be somewhat rationalized if "winning" was actually benefiting or gaining from these nefarious acts but as it turns out and is being proven daily by a documented conman, liar, and grand larcenists aka Mr, Trump, clearly the American definition of "winning" has been redefined by American biggest losers as having NO Integrity, Honesty, Fair Play, A Touch of Class, Ethics or Morals. And just like the losers intone ad nausea, if you say the lies enough they become the truth. The only place Trump and the Patriots belong is in the Hall of Shame. If America and Americans had any left.

  68. Please try to understand that the Patriots and the Falcons have been caught cheating. I agree with you on Trump, but why conflate one team over another? Sports are my respite from politics. Enjoy the game for what it is-a game.

  69. The fixed World Series of 1919 was in the last 3 decades? The 1951 NY Giants placing a person in the locker room to signal the batter the incoming pitch was in the last 3 decades? The 1950s fixing of college basketball games was in the last 3 decades? The corking of bats started long before the last 3 decades. East German and Russian jocks used drugs 50 years ago. Rosie Ruiz who was first declared the Boston Marathon winner after she didn't run the whole race but came out of the crowd and bolted to the ehad of the field as over 30 years ago. Ben Johnson caught using steroids for the Olympics over 30 years ago. Tonya Harding having Nancy Kerrigan assaulted was over 3 decades ago. I tire of all those claiming the "old days," were so more moral and ethical when they weren't. And to try to tie Trump to this is even more foolish. And I am not a Trump supporter. Perhaps YOU heard of Nixon from over 3 decades ago?

  70. It's really the opposite: it' not comforting at all that "we can't help it." It's pretty scary, football aside. And it is wrong: we CAN help it: we can commit ourselves to confront our own "braintality." We can attempt to become conscious of our so-called implicit, sub-conscious, un-concious self. We can ask ourselves, what's the benefit to me? What is my motivation?

  71. Today's game may be the strangest professional sports championship game in history on the basis of the relationship of one team with the US President and their fan base.

    Normally I would not root for the Patriots even though I 've come to respect Robert Kraft several years ago on his philosophy, but as a life long Giants fan (anyone under 50 heard of Norm Snead, Ron Johnson, Tucker Fredrickson...) I rarely favor any teams when the Giants are not playing, but in this political climate where most of America (causal observes of football) outside of the north east states aka New England will probably be rooting for the Atlanta Falcons only because of the Patriots ties to President Trump, so I will root for the Patriots, even though most of their fan base most likely did not vote for President Trump.

    Hopefully the game will be closely played to keep the game interesting on the field and that the entertainer at half time does not try to upstage the players with any political jabber because for those 3 to 4 hours may be the only time in a while that we are not bombarded with politics.

  72. Well for one thing, Brady was accused of deflating footballs and most of us struggle to see how that act would help the Patriots win.

    In baseball, Fenway Park has different dimensions than, say, Dodger Stadium - so the Red Sox stock their most with hitters who hit high fly balls to left field. Balls that would be outs at most stadiums are home runs at Fenway. Is that "cheating"?

    In basketball, you have arenas where there are dead spots in the floor. The home team knows about it - the visitors not so much. If impacts the game and the home team knows where the dead spots are - but is it cheating?

    In the Super Bowl there is an official whose job it is to make sure that the right balls are used and that they're properly inflated. Thats his job - he apparently didn't do it. Why is it any different than somebody dropping a pass but the pass being called complete by mistake? There are more protections against this than years ago - but it still happens.

  73. My family all defend Brady and the team. No matter what I say about facts. The point this article makes about not being able to acknowledge facts you don't want to believe is a national epidemic. Whether it be Brady, Trump, bigotry or actions that destroy the climate. Knowledge is our friend not our enemy. The strong survive but their quality of life diminishes overtime until their uninformed mistakes add up. Let's watch the game and hope no cheating comes back into fashion.

  74. What an allegory for the politics and government in our country today!

  75. I'm not from Boston but I've always admired the Patriots as a well-run organization and highly effective football team. By training I'm a physicist and statistician. I won't go into the physics of deflategate and the endless debate therein, but the statistics of this article are appalling.

    First, social studies such as the ones quoted here are typically underpowered, unrepeatable and unscientific. Furthermore, an author gets to choose which studies to quote.

    Secondly, in statistics you have to consider not just whether something is 'proven' but whether it matters, e.g. size of effect, the 'so-what' syndrome. Did videotaping other coaches give Belichick a significant advantage? Did Deflategate? My recollection is that in the second half, after the football pressure had been corrected, Brady slaughtered the Colts, so clearly even if true it was not significant.

    Thirdly, the author suggests cheating is still responsible for the Patriots success. The two 'prior' example are both marginal in effect, so from a Bayesian point of view to explain the success of the team suggests something massive. While most of us secretly think perhaps Brady is a Terminator-style robot this seems unlikely.

    Fourthly, the Patriots are under much more scrutiny than other teams, leading to a bias in discovery. Fifthly, Debategate was, well, a debate.. quality of 'data' here is poor. Sixthly, two events in ten years? Quantity is lacking too.

    This is a poorly reasoned, highly biased smear piece.

  76. Thank you, thank you Mr. Nicholls from Santa Fe for this well reasoned response. After suffering with the Patsies for years It would take a HUGE incident of malfeasance for me to stop rooting for them and loving the teams of the past 13 years. I can even forgive Mr. Kraft for visiting Trump after the election and Tom Brady for being a friend. After all his wife posted a big NO when asked if they voted for Trump. Of course who you vote for is a secret (hopefully). Who I will root for is not a secret.
    GO PATS!

  77. Let me give you a stock liberal response to the question in the headline: they all do it.

    Anyone who thinks other quarterbacks have not abused the power given to quarterbacks by the NFL to control the condition of the balls is an idiot. Anyone who thinks other NFL teams have not used any of the various new technologies to gain unfair advantage over other teams is naive. This has been going on since Bobby Thompson was informed by a man with a telescope that Branca was going to throw him a fastball in 1951. With the amount of money at stake in pro football (the winners of the Super Bowl this year will bring home over $100,000 per player) cheating is to be expected. The Patriots, because they are so successful, get caught more at cheating than others. Their constant and continuing success has annoyed the powers that be, i.e. the other owners, who then instruct the local constabulary, i.e., the commissioner's office, to spy on them.

    This will be Tom Brady's 7th Super Bowl, which puts him way out in front of all the others, including John Elway (5), Terry Bradshaw (5) and Joe Montana (4).

    Now that it's been revealed that top Patriots are Trump supporters, we can expect to see these kinds of articles excoriating them for everything under the sun.

    They will be the designated villains in today's game. The irony is that rank sectionalism of the nation's left-wing elites will have to be suspended for a day when they are forced to root for a team from Georgia.

  78. "they all do it" is not something a liberal would say. Quite the contrary actually.

  79. Bradshaw 4. All wins in which he threw a TD pass in the 4th quarter.

  80. I stand corrected. He and Montana are tied with Brady with four Super Bowl wins, but they have the distinction of never having lost one.

    I was living in the Bay Area during Montana's reign of excellence. It was thing of beauty. Brady was a high school kid in San Mateo during at the tail end of that time.

  81. Patriots fan checking in here.

    The Patriots were not caught cheating twice. They were caught cheating once. Spygate was a clear violation of the rules of the league, and they received the harshest penalty in league history at the time.

    The evidence does not support that they were cheating in Deflategate. The evidence supports the assertion that the balls were deflated naturally in accordance with the Ideal Gas Law. The actions of the NFL are consistent with the assertion that the Patriots were railroaded:

    1. The morning after the game, ESPN reported (incorrectly) that 11 of 12 balls were 2+ pounds underinflated. The Patriots asked the NHL to publically correct this incorrect information, and they never did.
    2. The "independent" investigators were retained as the league's counsel on repeated appeals.
    3. The NFL repeatedly moved the goalposts. First it was "the Patriots deflated footballs." Then "Brady was more likely than not aware" of something happening. Then it was "Brady obstructed the investigation by destroying his phone."
    4. The focus on the appeals in federal court was not the indefensible science behind deflation. It was over whether Comissioner Goodell has the authority to suspend players for whatever he wants, and his word is final.

    Please do not continue to perpetuate the myth that Deflategate was cheating. There is no evidence of this, unless you are Roger Goodell.

    But Spygate? Yep. Guilty. The Pats went 17-1 the rest of the season, under enhanced scrutiny.

  82. Why do Atlanta Falcon fans overlook their team's pumping noise into their stadium.

  83. Is that cheating?

  84. Hasn't this cheating story already been debunked many times over? How about the penalties imposed, whether just or not, endured for the alleged infractions. Yet still they win. This story reminds me of the "sudden acceleration" myth of Toyota vehicles propogated by the Big Three several years ago. If you can't beat them, make something up.

  85. Anyone who thinks that such a detail-oriented person as Brady did not supervise the deflation of the balls is delusional. Do you really think this decision was left to an equipment manager who made the same "mistake" game after game? If so, next question is why Brady destroyed his cell phone in the midst of the investigation? It truly is the Trump phenomenon all over again, or to be chronologically correct, Trump is the Brady phenomenon all over again. Excuse it, call it gamesmanship, praise it, whatever. But don't deny that it's intentional breaking of a clear rule.

  86. True. Bill and Hillary Clinton are also the Brady Phenomenon. And, I believe, the phenomenon goes both ways--your side can do no wrong, but also the other side can do no right,

    Unfortunately, while football is merely a game, politics have real effects.

  87. The full-page lead story on Super Bowl Sunday is: we all KNOW the success of the most successful NFL team of the past two decades is illegitimate ("the facts are there"), they probably STILL are cheating, so the only question is, how to explain the irrationality of their supporters? I'm obviously SO completely right, people who disagree must be crazy. The actual game, by the way, is irrelevant. That's some real classy sports journalism right there.

  88. The rules still do not say that you cannot videotape opposing coaches, only that you cannot use those videotapes during the course of a game.

    And the rules say that footballs must be given to the officials two hours before the game and not tampered with after that time. They do not say that the quarterback is responsible for what naturally happens to the air pressure in the footballs as they reach thermal equilibrium on the football field.

    The NFL rules are set by the NFL Competition Committee and approved by the NFL Executive Committee and should be applied fairly to all teams, but the NFL Office in New York and the other 31 owners feel that the Patriots need to be held to a different standard. That is the life of a Patriots fan.

  89. Baking's attempt to rationalize these transgressions actually reinforces Macur's point that for football fans, love is blind. There is no explanation for why Brady (soon after the game in question) instructs someone to take his cell phone and destroy. Nor is there any acknowledgement that the two Patriots staff implicated in Deflategate had exchanged texts stating that Brady was unhappy with the inflation level of footballs.

    No one is saying the Patriots aren't an excellent team or that Brady doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame. But the evidence points to at least two incidents of cheating. New England fans should quite trying to ignore or rationalize this.

  90. I imagine that Pats fans -definitely not one myself- are like people everywhere. Any person or institution that delivers victory and stature will have transgressions and character flaws overlooked by fans and followers. Remember what Lombardi said about winning. I was a Rams fan when they were in St. Louis, having grown up just east of there. I'll never forget the 2002 Super Bowl, watching the Pats D making amazingly prescient shifts and stunts, always making the right 'guess', stifling the most powerful offense in the league. Turns out they had video'd the Rams practices. They walked away with a Lombardi Trophy and a hand slap for getting caught. The tapes were destroyed and that incident somehow slipped below the radar, beneath the Jets incident and 'deflate-gate', even though that cheating delivered a championship in a game decided by a field goal as time expired. I think that Kraft is the best owner in sports; Belichick is the best head coach ever; and any conversation of best quarterback ever will include Brady. Shame is that they didn't need to cheat, but they have, and that will always be a part of their legacy.

  91. The Rams lost because players and coaches study film. It's not that hard when your team doesn't make adjustments.

    Pretty sure the story about filming practices was bogus, considering the person who claimed he taped them recanted.

  92. I don't live in New England, I despise radical sport fans of all types, and I am old enough to still be a ((moderate) Brooklyn Dodgers fan. I am also a retired lawyer, and have served as a judge. Notwithstanding the report relied on by Goodell was written by a lawyer, I have yet to find a practicing attorney who agrees with Goodell's finding of guilt. The lone judge who looked at the facts agreed and threw the case out. He was reversed solely by a finding that Goodell had the authority to make the final decision.

    Even by the civil standard of "preponderance of credible evidence" there is nothing there. "Beyond a reasonable doubt", the standard in a criminal case? Laughable.

    For whatever reason Goodell had it in for Brady. Psychobabble aside, depriving the public of watching this extremely talented man for four games based on no credible evidence warrants the Commissioner's removal, if not his real embarrassment.

  93. This whole "cheating" scandal is silly. What is not silly is Mr. Super White Tom Brady standing up our president at white house when Brady is in sport dominated by non-white players. An Irish-American and Patriots fan for decades, now I ma pulling for Matt Ryan. Brady lacks character and may be a racist to boot.

  94. Fact: I am a Pats fan, since about 1976 when I went to college in VT. (Loved the hapless Grogan years.)
    Fact #2: I was a Giants fan from the 1960s until after the second Pats/GIants Super Bowl. (I grew up in Binghampton and on Long Island, NY.) But after the amazing Giants Super Bowl wins over the Pats, the claims and behavior of "most" Giants fan made me drop my allegiance to the Giants. Note: I still prefer the Yankess to the Red Sox, although I've learned to appreciate the Red Sox, my allegiance has never changed.

    Of the three great Pats "cheats" this is my take.

    Great Cheat #1: the great snow removal heist (yeah, I know, before Bel/Brady years). It was hilarious. Not scripted. Not actually done by the team. Totally affected the game. Not covered by the rules. Nothing to be done. Laugh, or cry and tear your hair, and move on.

    Great Cheat #2: The spy cam filming. Many, if not most teams did it. Not covered explicitly by the rules. Every team had and has multiple cameras all the time, anyone with the brains and skill should have been doing it. Uncertain effect on game outcomes.

    Great Cheat #3: Deflategate. Trivial. No effect on games. Not clearly prohibited by rules; as balls are given to refs at specified PSI. Balls are then given back to team, with no prohibitions on what the team can do to make them comfortable to team. No rule says don't scuff, polish, add or subtract air.

  95. On number 3- actually the balls are not given back to the teams and the rules are clear that after checked by the referee they are not to be altered in any way.

    That a part time employee of the club removed the balls without permission is a violation, even if he routinely was to carry the balls to the field in sight of the referee after asking as part of his normal routine.

  96. All the teams are looking for an edge just look at the NCAA. Think the pro's are different. Think about how you do your taxes if you are so innocent.

  97. When Patriot fans or others reject the penalty to Brady because everybody is doing it, they are not ignoring the claim. They are making a fairness claim of their own: we are no different from others, why are we being singled out? We accept this claim sometimes (for example, if they are being singled out because of their race), but reject it other times. Here, it's a football game, and every team/player tries get an edge by "skirting" the rules. Hence, so many penalties. Why was Brady singled out and why was it handled in the way it was (they knew about it). The answer is that the Patriots may be probably the best and most successful at skirting the rules. Doesn't make them great, but many champions (hockey) are accused of being so, and, while it's possible that the team deflated balls, the science is not perfect and there's little evidence that Brady participated. There's even less evidence that it affected Brady.

  98. Read Interference a book by Dan Moldea about the NFL owners that the NFL tried to prevent from being published. It will tell you all you need to know about the NFL.

  99. I don't like any of the teams from Boston. None of them. Not because they cheat. I don't care if they cheat or not. I am not that wild about football, so it doesn't matter. What matters to me is that Boston loses today. Because I don't like Boston. I'm from New York. New York does not like Boston.
    Lose Boston, Lose. Boo hiss boo.

  100. I actually read the NFL decision on deflategate. It was a bunch of malarkey that only serves to reduce the image of the NFL. When Brady goes, so do I.

  101. Perhaps the better question is why losing teams fans look to label the other team as cheaters, rather than do the hard work of competing with the better coached and better led team. If you want a team that really cheated, look to the Atlanta Falcons, who were punished for pumping in crowd noise to their stadium.

  102. Or it could just be that we here in Massachusetts do not take rules seriously.
    Remember we told King George where to go when he got ham handed with rules for the colonies.

  103. I'm with Bill Maher on this Superbowl. I don't really care about the Falcons but I refuse to back the Patriots when the owner, the coach and the quarterback are all Trump supporters. Go Atlanta! Stop Brady from getting his fifth ring!!

  104. Daydreamer,
    Believe me, this Pats fan is sick to his stomach about Brady and BB supporting Trump. But Kraft is actually a democrat, who throws a good deal of his money behind progressive causes. Just sayin...

  105. Cheating goes on in every NFL football game.
    When an offensive lineman holds a defender, that lineman is cheating. When a defensive back grabs a receiver trying to catch a ball, he is cheating. Many times the cheater is caught and a penalty measured in yards and/or downs is assessed. But sometimes the cheater is not caught. They got away with cheating. At the NFL level a highly paid lineman knows the mechanics of blocking, legally, in and out. When they commit a holding penalty they are knowingly cheating. Cheating occurs frequently in any NFL game. It's simply that the media, fans, etc., don't refer to it by name as cheating, when in fact it is. They call it a "penalty." Well the player was penalized for CHEATING.

    There is no difference between holding, pass interference, etc., and under-inflating a football. ALL are forms of cheating, and it's part and parcel of the game.

  106. I've been saying this for years, but no one seems to care.

  107. When we peel away the layers of our "civilized selves," we're highly evolved tribal mammals. Given that, it would be surprising if most fans of a team didn't turn a blind eye when their team (tribe) cheats. With that, the best thing about today's game for me is that it marks the end of the football season, a.k.a., the long period of high holy days for the American religion. Call me a party pooper, but I don't like the relentless hype and attention given to this mediocre sport. For several months, I go through the channels on the weekend and my options are football, football or football. Then I try tuning in for a moment and there's the constant roar from the crowd, the ball that gets thrown 5 yards, then the bigger roar, and then very large men in armor jumping on and running into each other. Once the last expression of this ritual is over tonight, we'll be that much closer to baseball season, a truly great American sport.

  108. No mention of when Atlanta was found guilty of piping in fake crowd noise while tho opposing team is on offense.

  109. All human being make mistakes, in sport and business it is expected to work hard and do anything possible to win. The Patriots are not the only team to ever film a game. The Patriots are always under the microscope. Other teams cheat in so many ways to win so stop with the finger wagging! They beat their wives, their children, do drugs ro get an edge, are suspended and it's all forgotten a day later. For every Patriot fan, that is absolutely hypocritical and comical that we IGNORE IT. Don't lose sight of the records broken by Tom Brady, the plays orchestrated by Bil Belichick, the bones broken by Gronk and all of the hard working players under Kraft that have had the honor of working for such a well prestigious organization. Every article like this, focusing on only 5% of what the Patriots have accomplished, this only clarifies to Patriot fans that people will never stop envying a team that WINS...... a lot. That's human nature and its to be expected. So there's a Patriot fan's point of view, in response to a non Patriot article. Give Tom Brady respect for his hard work and records as the greatest QB of all time and enough with minimizing the teams efforts. How many penalty flags get thrown throughout the season? How many calls are overlooked by the "league"? Write an article about the whole team history and every aspect of the game, not a biased one. Where are YOUR ethics? (Red Flag Thrown!). -E.W

  110. Alternative Facts on this article's title: "False Equivalencies." I like reading comments that support my mostly objective sanity and (debatable:) intelligence. Thanks for this one !

  111. You could easily flip this question and ask why the fans of lesser teams are so eager to accept flimsy evidence of cheating thrown at the Patriots. Perhaps they're looking for the reason why the Patriots beat their teams year after year and they can't accept the notion that the Patriots are simply better. It's far easier to call the Patriots cheaters than it is to hold your own team accountable for their failures.

  112. They punish possession of paraphernalia because they might not be able to prove you used it to shoot up but common sense tells you there is no other reason to possess it.
    The rule the Patriots violated as to where to cameras could and could not be located was created just that year and for exactly that reason and they were thusly and rightly punished.
    Some think it's not cheating if you don't get caught. IT's not a penalty if they don't call it. If you get caught cheating and punished for cheating guess what it is: cheating.
    If your testimony at your hearing is unbelievable then don't be surprised if they don't believe you.

  113. An interesting article nicely introducing group-based moral blindness. But the tone assuming Brady's guilt is not warranted (and no, I only occasionally root for the team - consider me an independent). The same moral adaptability highlighted in the psychological experiments can explain the howling of the anti-Brady mob - 31 of 32 NFL teams (and hence fans) are not Boston. The Deflategate study had many flaws, not least the secrecy and unscientific judgments, the failure to openly seek out and resolve contrary explanations. This is why we don't normally convict citizens based on the standard of "more probable than not", hardly more than a game coin flip.
    Of course we all know that this article is really written about Trump supporters.

  114. Human nature is universal and football teams and fans are made up of Homo sapiens. The Patriots were fined for filming opposing coaches, after the practice was banned by the league. Angry and jealous fans continue to cling to this stale story line. Why aren't fans bored with this tired and old narrative. Because the media clings to the same narrative. Ditto for sports talk radio. The Patriots are cheaters, period, case closed. A narrative easy to digest. It nicely explains the reality that the Pats keep winning. I have been reading psychology literature for 40 years.....the weakest is in the area of emotions. For insight on human emotions we need to turn to novelists and poets, not professors! Group behavior research is more helpful in the issue of Patriots versus their detractors: Zimbardo, Asch, Moscovici, Janis etc. Also look to cognitive heuristics, for example discounting. When a Ph.D. physicist explains deflated footballs by the laws of nature, fans and pundits alike scoff. Why? The explanation does not fit the stale narrative. The explanation is simply discounted. The Patriots are cheaters. They must be, they keep winning. The Pats coach did wrong and was punished. That was a long time ago. But long live the narrative! Perhaps when the Pats begin to lose, the narrative will lose traction. The Patriots were 4 and 12......they are no longer cheaters. Stay healthy Tom!

  115. I am one of the few Bostonians who doesn't watch or follow the Patriots, and certainly will not be watching the Superbowl. First, professional football and baseball, along with other sports, are no longer simply a game to be played and enjoyed. They have all become giant corporations: all about money. Winning is everything, for winning is where the god of gold rules. Second, even if I were a Patriots fan, I could not idolize celebrities like Brady, Belichick et all, who are friends and supporters of Trump. Third, I cannot support cheating in any form. My husband and I will spend this afternoon listening to music, reading, and enjoying pleasant conversation with a couple of our friends.

  116. Not only do I remember every cheat that The Patriots were reported for, but I have always hated the Patriots ever since their coach said women reporters do not belong in the locker room.

  117. Sad in a way that so many commenters who are Patriots fans spend time justifying and/or denying the team's misbehavior, completely missing the point of the article, which was to use fan group reactions as an illustration of a basic human instinct we all have due to evolutionary experience, and how it leads us to bad outcomes. Groupthink doesn't much matter in sports -- it does matter in its effect on how we manage to govern ourselves, as history, say of the 20th century, clearly shows.

  118. This is the worst sort of academic pseudo-science masquerading as moral authority. When did professors of psychology become "expert on ... hypocrisy and moral judgment"? Prof. DeSteno seems oblivious of the fact that his "experiments" do not prove anything he claims because they are subject to uncontrolled, multiple interpretations. That is the problem with academic psychology. It fails to be a science like physics, so now it wants to be a moral authority.
    Not all Patriots fans are in denial. The infractions they are accused of simply do not rise to the level of "cheating". That word is just a provocation, unfit to print. Cheating implies taking advantagge and no one has ever shown that the Pats got any advantage from any of their alleged infractions. Brady prefers a softer football, others prefer it otherwise. That is a preference, not an advantage. If it is not an advantage, it isn't cheating.

  119. What undermines the argument in this article is the stated certainty that Brady, and by extension the Patriots, actually cheated. In fact the NFL and Godell prevailed not because they were proven right (in fact on the deflated balls science suggests otherwise) but on the narrow point of law that the collective bargaining agreement allowed the commissioner to make a judgement regardless of the evidence. Kind of like working with a set of alternative facts. There is even a lack of consensus on the "spy-gate" issue with regards to Belicheck's use of illegal video.
    While the author is undoubtably correct in quoting research that suggests we are more likely to tolerate miscreant behavior from people we deem to be 'on our side' (witness the comfort level of Trump supporters with outright and provable prevarication) the presumption (and click bait) of this article is somewhat fraudulent. Every fan base supports its team but nothing suggests that Patriot fans support their team in full knowledge of their teams (alleged) cheating. The article skirts the truth in an attempt to make the author's research conflate with a pretty thin premise.
    And I am a Packer fan.

  120. I cannot evaluate the psychological study from the data given in the article, but the claim that "lying is human nature" is simply false, though often used when we don't know what else to say. Human nature, what defines us as humans, is far more elusive than this, and a very complicated concept. It is not determined by empirical studies, tests, experiments, etc., but through complex philosophical analyses. The article is simply an example of common reductive thinking that we all practice at times because we lack the time or the inclination to think deeply.

  121. I dunno, why does a clueless sports writer bring it up? We did not forgive them, we aren't sure the accusations really stick, and we believe every team and every participant in every professional sport looks for every edge to win. Maybe what we really like is a track record of excellence, a true embellishment of "team sports" no stupid celebrations and dancing even when your down 30 points. No room for clowns like Odell Beckit jr. no poor losers like Cam Newton. So how's that for a reason to like teams like the Patriots and Packers.

  122. Civilization is sadly still so tribal. We seem to have an overwhelming need to belong to something, (religion, political party, race, state, sports team, left handers......ad infinitum). While this behavior may have been a survival mechanism defending against outsiders in the distant past, today because we belong to so many different groups at once it feels like we're in a constant state of war. When you don't need the intelligence to independently judge (or even see) the facts, it becomes a game anyone can play.

  123. Interestingly enough, this is a case of "alternative facts". It's ridiculous how this can be published given the facts available about why footballs deflate - the ideal gas law. Many universities and scientists have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt why footballs lose air. A better psychology themed story would be trying to understand why masses of people continue to believe false facts. Period. Full stop.

  124. Patriots fans who excuse their cheating tell us a lot about the America that elected Trump president, don't they? What a shock that Kraft, Belichick, and Brady are all thick as thieves (I use the term advisedly) with our oligarch in chief! Patriots fans has the same completely "what's in it for me" "principles" as these Patriots jerks and our esteemed leader, but so does nearly half the electorate which voted for Trump and didn't take him "literally," because it didn't matter precisely what he would do, as long as he would find some way to "make the deal" the mob behind him wants Deflating game balls and the rest were simply part of the same mentality of win by any means necessary, and let the losers worry about the "ethics" of it all. America has more and more become all about "winning," as the only Wall St.-like goal there is, and less and less about the values of "winners" like Washington and Lincoln and FDR who actually believed in moral principles even higher than mere "winning" as an end in itself.

  125. All one needs to know here is Fred's from Baltimore!

  126. Patriots fans who excuse their cheating tell us a lot ...
    You don't have a clue, if you believe that the Patriot's extended streak of excellence has been maintained through cheating.
    It will be rewarding to watch President Trump's congratulatory phone call to Robert Kraft and the Patriots.

  127. Oh my goodness, an article praising the virtues of soft science over hard science! I can't dispute the premise that group affiliation leads to moral leniency for members of that group. But that's not what the Deflategate brouhaha is about (and this article would not exist today without that brouhaha.) The reason that certain Patriots fans (and non-Patriots fans) are besides themselves is that the science is completely clear. A ball inflated to a certain pressure at room temperature will lose pressure as it cools. The extent to which that was seen in the Patriots balls is predicted by environmental factors assuming they were inflated to 12.5 PSI before the game.

    You might instead want to ask the question, why is it that smart people who believe that the Patriots cheated continue to believe this despite the scientific explanation for the change in pressure. There again, moral leniency is not in the picture. The simple explanation is that a general mistrust of science and rational argument is present throughout much of our society, especially when it runs afoul of our own inclinations or interests. Whether or not this has always been there or has become more acute recently is up for debate. Ironically, our politics would suggest that this has grown as an issue in the last few years or perhaps beyond. Perhaps the author might be better served exploring this area of investigation.

  128. Sigh - Problem with this article is the assumption that everyone "knows" that Brady "cheated" and that New England fans are engaging in a bit of "nudge nudge wink wink" as they used to say on Monty Python.

    An objective look at the facts shows that there was never any good evidence that Brady was involved in anything. In the end, Goodell insisted in suspending Brady not for the alleged cheating but because Brady destroyed his cell phone, a cell phone from which all the text messages had already been given to the NFL and from which there was never any smoking gun. This was all about Goodell throwing his weight around.

    So yes, spare us Pats fans the psychobabble. The Pats have been winning because they play the game well. Pats fans recognize that.

  129. SO many points to mention: from Joe Montana saying (roughly) 'if you are not cheating, you are not competing;' to the loyalty of political supporters that either overlooks transgressions of the one supported or permits false equivalencies punishing the other; and the many examples of winning teams gaining an edge in the eyes of on-the-field officiating, e.g. Derek Jeter's infamously theatrical and successful double play phantom swipes at second base, oft called an out; to the ridiculously transparent 'Hatetriot' vibe of the author.

    I wanted to email Ms. Macur or tweet out something to her but thought better of it - why validate what amounts to a slight hack piece rather than a piece of integrity? Why not 'Why Do Fans Excuse *Cheating?' Why single out the Patriots on Super Bowl Sunday rather than tribal support from any team, following?

    Ms. Macur is either a Ravens, Giants or Jets fan - or jaded Skins fan or is merely propelled by an objective to garner paper-in-hand readers, online clicks and reactions like this one (in which case I guess her hatchet job is a success) based on subjective transparent sentiments against one team. Sad !

  130. We excuse it because it wasn't defined as a suspension offense at the time he did it. It's not at all clear to me that the degree of inflation of a ball was ever viewed as such a big deal until this happened. Now it's different because everyone is on notice.

  131. "Why do fans excuse the Patriot's cheating past?" Give me a break. Why do they excuse the Falcon's cheating past? "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?"

    Because deflategate was nonsense. If the league suspected a problem they should have stopped it just like they do in baseball, have the officials in charge of all the balls. Allowing teams to have their own special balls is admitting that there can be differences and asking teams to maximize those differences. The way it was handled was a trap and a disgrace to the NFL, not the Patriots.

    Anyone remember the scientific evidence from MIT explaining that there was no evidence there was any infraction?

    How can people claim suspending arguing the game's arguably greatest active player for 4 games at age 39 is not a severe punishment. Not to mention paying a $1Million fine.

    Come on, Kellyanne, let's deal in real facts.

  132. GO New England!

  133. If you like sports, play them. Why do you care which team of millionairs wins? They arent even from your town. Bread and circuses. Seesh, no wonder Trump won.

  134. Dear J, When I was in high school and college I DID play field hockey, basketball and lacrosse. Now that I am 69 I swim and walk six days a week............I feel sorry for people like you who aren't fans of any team, you have missed alot of bonding with other fans, joy of victory, etc. Oh, by the way, I did not vote for that orange faced buffoon.

  135. As a Patriot season ticket holder for 25 years I personally will NEVER excuse or forgive Bill Belichick for Spygate. I have often wondered what his father Steve would have said. He had been a long time Naval Academy coach but had passed away by the time BB ignored the league's reminder. Deflategate is another matter entirely. Between the erroneous ESPN report and the flawed CBA there was no place to turn for truth in reporting except our Boston media, and even some of them waffled. If other fans feel better believing we only win because we cheat that is their right. I just know it is not true. Remember, people hate the Yankees simply because they win, nothing more.

  136. I would like to edit part of your last sentence. "people hated the Yankees simply because they won." You probably agree that is much harder these days to hate them. Everything else you wrote is spot on!

  137. There is no gray area with honor, integrity and ethics. You either have it or you don't and any debate just vitiates any rationale on it. One has to internalize and accept the above standards to their own satisfaction which may not pass the sniff test above.

  138. The Falcons were caught cheating by the league, and punished, too. More recently than the Patriots. Where is this in the article?

  139. Spygate was cheating and the Patriots are apparently still paying the price. Deflategate was a farce created by teams and certain owners that are tired of losing to the Patriots (even though many of them also prepare the footballs to one end of the allowed range as the Patriots did). Goodell went along because who wouldn't want a $40M/year salary? If we are serious about NFL issues, let's investigate owners and the league for what they knew and when they knew it regarding concussions.

  140. People who want to maintain personal ethical and moral standards should learn to apply the "outsider test" when it comes to their dearly held beliefs, whether religious, political or, as in this piece, allegiance to a sports, or anything else.

    To do so, they must try to see their beliefs as someone who does not share them. Thus, a religious believer in faith X, who finds the myths, rules and proposition of faith Y, absurd, should turn the table and examine his own beliefs with the same critical eye.

    Patriots fans would ask themselves, for example, how they would feel if the Falcons had been accused of "Deflategate."

    It's not always easy to do. But it's an honest and ethical practice.

  141. It's a fine rule for these times, but I'm not sure it's necessary to do the religious faith thought experiment. It can be just as simple as asking yourself, "How would I feel if my side did the same thing"?

  142. In his Northeastern University page regarding the Patriots, DeSterno states, "First let me state that I haven't reviewed all the evidence...with regard to (sic) Spygate or Deflategate..." So this Scarsdale, New York native then attempts to innocently propose a theory as to "Why Do Fans Excuse the Patriots' Cheating Past?" Without investigating he PRESUMES the Patriots cheated? Why would anyone, never mind a purported 'expert' in psychology, attempt to address such an issue? How much time and money was wasted on this theory? And then people wonder why the social sciences are treated the way they are in academia. Go away, David DeSterno. Just go away.

  143. This article has some gross inaccuracies. I think most Pats fans acknowledge Spygate was a violation of the rules. The question for us fans, however, is whether or not Goodell acted evenhandedly in his punishment. Why, for instance, did the Patriots receive such a harsh punishment while Atlanta received a slap on the wrist for piping in artificial crowd noise? As other instances have shown (Ray Rice, Bountygate, Peyton's HGH use), Goodell can be extremely arbitrary in enforcing league rules. What is truly bothersome about this article, though, is that it ignores the scientific consensus that there was no actual wrongdoing in Deflategate, neglects to mention the multiple times throughout the investigation that the NFL was caught in a lie, and doesn't call into question the alternative facts on which Goodell based his case. Maybe next time you write a thinkpiece like this, you also include some actual journalism.

  144. Maybe part of the reason Pat fans are so defensive is the hypocrisy. The Falcons were guilty of pumping fake crowd noise into their stadium, yet that story barely had legs. Why? Because they stunk. If the Pats had done that it would be NoiseGate - the Story of the Year, and for several years after. Why? Because the Pats are great.

  145. We love the Pats because of their competitive spirit, their loyalty to their fans, and their commitment to New England, down to the last man. The only other team I've seen with this type of fan/team loyalty is the Packers. As for Brady, how many other quarterbacks have taken pay cuts to benefit their team. It's unheard of. Has this ever happened with a New York team? It's confuses me why people outside of New England are so quick to judge 'guilty' on Deflategate in spite of so much contradictory evidence. Now that would be an interesting psychological study.

  146. Would have loved to have seen Pats versus Packers, just for the nostalgia factor.

  147. Because the cheating was inconsequential both times. Regarding the ball deflation, the Wells report was flawed but, most important, every QB likes to customize his own ball. Aaron Rodgers, for example, likes an overinflated ball. The deflated balls also had no effect on the outcome of the game. That whole controversy was manufactured by the Colts and Ravens owners who have continually been humiliated by the Patriots. It didn't help that Brady told the media after a playoff game with the Ravens that Harbaugh should read the rulebook about offensive formations. Taping signals was also a lot to-do about nothing. They taped them from an undesignated spot. Big deal. Every team tries to steal signals. Why do you think a baseball pitcher puts his glove over his mouth when the catcher comes to the mound? The cheating charge is for losers.

  148. Objectively speaking, the evidence about the air pressure in the footballs was weak, and Brady was "convicted' with what was far from a fair proceding. Combine those facts with the fierce team loyalty of other fans, and their non stop trolling of the team, and you have convicted a man under a less than equitable system ( NFL code) .

  149. The Patriots don't just have a cheating past; they have a culture of cheating. I've never really excused that and still don't.

  150. I'm sure that Patriots Nation really cares about your opinion. But it is yours, so live with it. People said the same thing about Red Auerbach when the Celtics of the 60s, 70s and even 80s were winning NBA titles.

    It's just envy.

    It would have been interesting if the author of this article interviewed people like yourself when your time won a title in any sport where there was any taint or question. Should the Marlins fire Barry Bonds because he took steroids? Is his advice as a batting coach questionable? Is he telling his protégées to cork their bats? It does get silly, doesn't it?

    Should the Red Sox give back their titles recently because Manny Ramirez took PEDS? How about Roger Clemens after he left the Red Sox? Punish the Yankees? And what of the HOF? A separate wing for drug takers?

  151. They are one of the least penalized teams year after year.

    You would have a case if you could actually provide a list of transgressions.

    But I've looked, so I know you can't.

  152. The NFL is a business that fans might take a little too seriously. The Patriots have been caught cheating and the Patriots have been punished. Throughout our society, cheating occurs everywhere. Look at Wall Street where cheating that occurs actually has serious consequences that negatively impact peoples lives. In sports cheating occurs everywhere at all levels. From FIFA to the Tour de France to the Olympics. In sports we can still enjoy watching outstanding athletes perform feats that most of us have know chance of ever doing. Watching the Patriots, you see players that are very well coached and perform their assignments which is the most significant reason they are successful. With that said, there is something to the fact that fans will tolerate almost anything by their team in any sport to see them win. It's not just New England. It is fun. Go PATS!

  153. I'd like to comment but I'm still wondering why the game is called football.

  154. I couldn't agree more.

  155. Several people have cast doubt on the evidence of cheating by basically saying, "But the Patriots are so talented . . . why would players like that feel the need to cheat? But there are numerous examples in sports of highly talented athletes seeking an extra advantage.

    Consider former baseball star Barry Bonds. Or look at Gaylord Perry, a pitcher who frequently threw spitballs (illegal). Perry is in the Hall of Fame and he won at least 20 games in five seasons. It's safe to assume his talent was the main reason why, but we shouldn't excuse the fact that he sometimes got guys out by throwing an illegal pitch. So it shouldn't shock us that an excellent athlete or team would try to break the rules every now and then.

  156. I am not much a football fan whatever the club, but for once I wish very much that prominent members of a club, who so publicly embraced cheater-lier-clown-egomaniac in chief will loose, and badly !

  157. Along with developing tunnel vision to protect an iconic team that a home group of fans identify with, there may be an underlying belief that they all do it [whatever they can get away with], the Pats just do it better?

    There have been other studies reported that indicate that hardcore fans really feel elated or devastated personally by their team's performance. So - an attack on the team or sign of weakness is felt like a blow to one's own ego.

    Personally, as a NE fan -- not extreme - it bothered me much more to see the Pats owner, head coach and aging star endorse Trump. That created a little too much cognitive dissonance to deny!

  158. I can't believe the Times is resurrecting all of this old "news", flimsy evidence (or none)against the Patriots, whose main claim to hatred is that they really are a superior team.........
    I thought you were better than that!

  159. All of it sounds like a conspiracy till you realize there are 12 professionals well paid and full of pride and are going to do everything they can.

    And here is the thing, there is more onfield cheating by both sides that all players must over come in order to excel. Off field spying only works if the other team runs those, and only helps if a player can remember every detail in heat of battle.

    Next time you write about a sport you never played professionally, don't. Its readily apparent this is a man bashing article at best.


  160. The point is..they tried. When you try to take advantage..you are a cheater. Period. You say there is cheating on both sides? And you still watch right? The author is correct.

  161. What cheating are talking about ? Deflategate was NFL politics, that ignored the simple science cold has on air pressure ( check your car tires). The NFL put out bogus info and then morphed the whole thing into cell phones. The company that did the initial analysis also defended big tobacco in second hand smoke claims( cheating my xxxx).

  162. I LOVE sport for its rules and its clear outcomes and thus, cheating once was anathema to me. Over a lifetime as a fan (and an American), I have realized that we are a nation of rascals who often by sheer will can seize and hold the high ground by cheating. Baseball taught me this as its history is full of scamps who altered balls, bats, blood chemistry and even the physics of stadia to prosper. At first, playing "Gotcha!" with the Patriots seemed an easy way to define my honor through their lack thereof. The more I learned how the Patriots approach rules and competition. the more their will seemed to have qualities of overt larceny I could place amidst the bigger picture of human character. Cheaters exist and they prosper. In business, sport and in our personal lives we sometimes push the envelope of morality in order to increase our chances at success. The Patriots are an exceptional organization amidst the orchestrated parity of their sport and I admire their will if not always their larcenous culture. I think that one can own the Patriots' morality in context of the bigger picture of human frailty just as one admires Mother Theresa or Ghandi for their aspirational humanity. I found my way to give the Patriots a pass, partially because I better know existence and the human condition. Also, my Giants wrecked their perfect season and this has gifted me clarity, compassion and glee.

  163. Brady, Belichick and many of the other NE organizational grown ups are avid trump supporters. That alone is reason for me to root against them. That they willingly cross the line while looking for any competitive edge is not surprising.

    I do not support bullying, raping mother nature, delegitimizing the media, creation of alternate facts, or alienating and victimizing whole groups of people.

    Therefore, I cannot support others who do. Yes, its just a game, but its also big business, and there are deeper concerns that will last long after the final play. Win or lose, my condolences to those NE players who's political opinions run counter to their management's, who probably must remain quiet to keep the peace.

  164. “It’s not about the true facts, or about how honest you believe a group is, or what the group’s past behavior is,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what sport it is, or what team it is, or even if it’s sports at all. Just being a part of a group, any group, is enough to excuse moral transgressions because in some way, you’re benefiting from it. Your moral compass shifts.”

    Far be it from me to claim to be any kind of authority on human nature, but don't these kinds of articles often times fall on deaf ears? So many people love football, they love being entertained and they love the excitement. The shifting moral compass is so eggheadish to discuss much less explore on Super Bowl Sunday. The two best teams are playing today. I humbly believe most people will be focusing on the game. PERIOD. The only shifting my moral compass will be doing will be when I keep eating too much before, during and after the Super Bowl, thinking I should stop, but I won't.

  165. Pats fans don't argue Spygate. Deflategate only counts if you can ignore the laws of science. Pat's fans don't - this writer does. It seems to me that this logic applies for those that hate the patriots - in order to not admit their teams are inferior, they perpetuate the falsehoods.

    Congratulations to the Falcons on a great season, and go Pats - if the Pats are going to be hated anyway, let them be hated with one more Super Bowl victory on the books!

  166. You write that “Outside New England…. The Patriots are considered unrepentant cheaters, caught (and punished) more than once for their football crimes. Yet they keep winning, with a roster full of retreads and spare parts. Could they be skirting the rules even today, in new or undetected ways? Many football fans — nearly all of them outside New England — would not be surprised.”

    I have experienced this many times. Many of my co-workers in the Washington-Baltimore corridor feel this way. They’re just being home-town fans. Two of my best friends, an Iggles fan and a Jets fan can be excused for feeling this way. They are, after all, knuckle-dragging mouth breathers.

    But here’s the rub. Not once do you turn that study’s conclusion that “[people pick] the easy task for themselves, without even flipping the coin, wrongly believing that no one was watching” on the people who claim that the Patriots are cheaters and thus never, for all time, are any good at what they do. Maybe, despite the cheating in the taping, the Patriots players, coaches and management are just flat out good at what they do?

    Yours is the same argument my politically conservative friends have for believing that the New York Times is an organization of distrustful, feckless liars simply because, if you examine all you do in all time you find examples of editors and journalists who… make bad judgements.

    Makes no sense to me…

  167. For me, this explained more about our recent election than it did about the Super Bowl.

  168. Go back to the dawn of time where the first man\neanderthal raise his club against another man\neanderthal and you will begin to understand the idea of ''tribalism'' .

    That is not to impune Patriot fans as knuckle dragging neanderthals that blindly support their team and players, but if the club fits ...

    ( smile )

  169. Why do U of Michigan fans ignore the huge $100's of thousands kickbacks to the 'Fab-5'? Why do Penn State fans somehow ignore Joe Paterno's 'look the other way' methods while child abuse was occurring in HIS football facilities? It's because fans = fanatics and some fanatics are know as suicide bombers. It's a mental illness.

  170. Ah the psychology of cheating- cute. How about the psychology of finding justification for why your team fails while the Patriots just keep winning? No real evaluation of the wins vs losses % prior to 07 vs after (5% better) or how Brady performance has altered pre/post deflated balls - it hasn't. People conveniently forget that the Wells report was done by the same people who concluded there was no issue around concussions. So tonight I'll sit and take in this special run of my team, boring my Eagles friends about genius of this coach and how he defies the odds by winning in a system designed for parity.

  171. Easy answer to headline: Because they win. Period.

  172. This article is an excellent example of how the media continues to repeat lies until the lies become, in many readers' minds, truth.

    The article states the Patriots were "twice caught cheating by the N.F.L." That is not true. The writer obviously has failed to understand the first instance, known as Spygate, was a case where the Patriots were fined on the basis of the camera's placement, not that they were filming the other team in the first place. If the camera had been moved 15 feet back there would have been no violation. It takes an Orwell/1984 redefinition of words to call that "cheating."

    Deflategate is an even more egregious example of a falsely constructed meme. Again, the writer is ignorant of the facts, and evidently too lazy to care to research them. The balls in that game were never proven to have been deflated beyond the extent to which they reacted to the laws of physics on a cold night. Is that so difficult to grasp"

    Sure, all of this makes for a good story for those envious of the Patriots' success. But it's based on lies. Ms. Macur might as well write for Fox News. She should be ashamed.

  173. No shame in 'any press is good press.' She' just following 45 examples :-D

  174. Of course Tom Brady and Donald Trump are friends... birds of a feather.

  175. Most NE fans understand that the Inflategate was a power play by the league, the film incident was reflective of several teams doing the same thing, and the vast majority of NFL players know just how hard all teams hedge bets and bend rules to gain an advantage...it is the bitterness of non-Patriot fans and owners who refuse to see the bigger picture...to have been as successful as the Pats for the last 15-16 years requires more than any of the incidents in question....it requires a commitment that is hard to replicate. Any time a team dominates a sport, people grow tired or their success...it's natural, it's ok...it's life...and, let's not forget, it's only a game....enjoy the one being played today!

  176. The patriots cheated once, spygate. Deflategate, never actually proven by NFL or the Wells Report, has been 100% debunked by elementary school physics. The NFL consultants "Exponent, who conducted experiments on ball pressure have also been proven to have used completely flawed and erroneous scientific methods. It's fact, No ball deflation occurred. Watch the you tube video of MIT mechanical engineering professor and NFL Colts fan prove this fact. Perhaps it is the same psychology that explains why most people ignore this fact, the group outside of Patriot Nation, including my favorite media outlet, The NY Times?

  177. Brady's phone self destructs.
    Every team has a ball boy with the nickname "deflator" who takes the balls in a locked bathroom for 20 minutes shortly after the balls are tested and before the game and who, after the investigation starts talks to Tom notsoTerrific for 45 minutes who has a ball boy's telephone number on his phone that gets recycled.
    Where is MIT again? Geographically?
    Who invented and perfected the pic play?
    The player who intercepted the pass at the end of the half was told in advance that the balls had been tampered with. They knew from the regular season.

  178. I remember visiting family (Patriot-fans all) many years ago at a time when both Barry Bonds (of my SF Giants) and Bill Belichick were in the news for cheating. Back in California, my sport-fan friends were frothing at the mouth about the transgressions of the Patriots. Belichick should be banned from the game, they told me. Absolutely outrageous, they fumed. Nobody was particularly concerned about what Barry Bonds was up to. In New England, I heard only that "everyone does it [steals signals], what's the big deal?" But Barry? Lock him up and throw away the key. The ability to forgive your own team is seemingly limitless.

  179. Brady was disliked before he cheated. He's an entitled, smug crybaby who has everything a human could want and football is what's important to him. Shallow and douchy. We saw in November there are plenty of people who admire someone for all the wrong reasons.

  180. Now I understand how Trump supporters must excuse his un-American behavior. They must believe that Trump will somehow be of benefit to them. I guess they just can't comprehend that they are excusing Donald Trump. That's right - Donald Trump. I'm a Jet fan and it's easier for me to excuse the Pats!

  181. Pathetic. Time to let it go Patriots haters. The team really is that good, and it has nothing to do with cheating.

  182. Just when I thought it was safe to read the NYT on a Sunday morning, here lies yet another "story" about the Patriots and their past discretions. On a similar note of a previous commenter, the deeper question is why does Roger Goodell consistently allows ANY team to cheat, season after season? Frankly, I'm drained from reading this same type story whenever we hit the playoffs and finally the Super Bowl, year after year after year. It's politics - football style. Class, character and integrity doesn't seem to play into the sport for many players, coaches or especially, the Commissioner. Bring on the commercials - that's what so many people tune in for anyway.

  183. hmmm....sounds a bit like our "game" of politics. Only the political games in Washington today put lives and well-being at risk. Any advice, Professor, on how we can all think like an outsider?

  184. Hope Cheater Brady has his stuff together today. Hope the ball is as inflated as his head!