Ever since news broke out that the Patriots used deflated balls in their 45-7 victory over Colts, their has been large outcry about cheating. Former players have come out, most recently Charles Haley, claiming that the Patriots legacy will always be tainted because of their "cheating" ways.
My question is what do you consider cheating? If deflating a football is cheating, then so is all the other little things professionals do to gain an advantage. To me, cheating is when you have a complete advantage over your opponent, which is to insurmountable for them to overcome. Stealing an opponent's playbook is cheating, paying off the referees is cheating, sabotaging the OPPONENT'S equipment is cheating. The Patriots are guilty of one of those, people called them cheaters, way before deflated footballs.
Now of course what they did was against NFL rules, and they were caught breaking the rules, so yes, they should be punished. I don't think we should consider it cheating though, more like a competitive advantage, which is prevelant in all levels of sports. From little league to the pros, you learn countless tactics and moves to gain an advantage over your opponent. In my 10th grade season, I learned how to grab a receivers jersey without the ref seeing it, and I see that same move every Sunday when I watch the NFL. I know Points guards are known for grabbing your hands when they dribble by you, something NBA guards are infamous for.
Jerry Rice called the Patriots cheaters in an interview with Jim Rome late January. Rice said that if the Patriots win the Super Bowl, which they did, there should be an asterisk by their name. I love Jerry Rice but he should have gone off-record with this one because he has done some "cheating" of his own. In an ESPN video segment about The Evolution of Gloves, Rice admitted to using stickum, which was banned by the NFL in 1981. To hear this coming from Jerry Rice was a bit shocking, only because he is considered to have the best hands in the history of the NFL, and since he used stickum, we have to put an * next to his name. No way was I ever going to take that route, but it goes back to my question, what is cheating and what is a competitive advantage?
To me, neither Rice nor the Patriots cheated, both used a competitive advantage. Both tactics are against NFL rules, but neither, in my opinion, are enough to change the outcome of a game. And I'm not telling people to go out and break rules but we should understand that stuff like this has been going on forever and will continue. As long as teams want to win, "cheating" will be apart of the game.