iCorps CEO Mike Hadley Weighs in on Patriots "Deflate-gate"
The Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots will play for the Super Bowl championship this weekend in Glendale, Ariz., but the topic overshadowing the game -- and taking over every major news network -- has been the handling of the Patriots' footballs on game days.
You've heard the story already. During the first-half of the AFC Championship game, New England was playing with under-inflated footballs, according to the NFL, which is breaking a league rule. The team is suspected of doctoring the footballs by taking air out of them prior to the game but after passing inspection by the referees. This would make the balls easier to grip, easier to catch and harder to fumble.
During press conferences held by the team, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he had "no explanation for what happened" and that he does not handle the footballs prior to games. His starting quarterback, three-time Super Bowl champion and two-time league MVP Tom Brady, gave even less insight into the matter, saying that he "did not alter the ball in any way."
Coach Belichick gave another impromptu press conference Saturday afternoon in which he said the Patriots "have absolutely followed every rule to the letter." During the coach's meeting with the media, he said he had gathered a lot more information and is confident his team is not in the wrong. Before taking questions, he added, "This is the end of the subject for me for a long time," as the team will be giving its full attention to the Super Bowl Sunday.
"First of all, I don’t think it'll affect the Super Bowl outcome and it may even be used by the Patriots as motivation," said Mike Hadley, president and CEO of Boston-based iCorps Technologies. "I'd like to find out what happened. I believe Brady and Belichick. Obviously something happened, but I think because it's the Patriots it's overblown. These ex-players that were beaten by the Patriots in prior years are all jumping on it. I'm not sure you can prove anything. You can't prove anyone did it."
Hadley has been a Patriots season ticket holder since 2000 and will be attending the Super Bowl this year. He has been to the last four Super Bowls the Patriots have been in.
"I'm very excited to go. I like the Patriots to win," he said. "We have the best team since we've had since 2003. The offense is strong. The team is solid all the way around and can exploit Seattle's defense. But it's unfortunate we have to talk about the footballs. You don't want this. I think this will change next week. There are media days next week, but it'll become more about the match-ups as the game gets closer. This is overblown and blown out of proportion. If this was Jacksonville, it wouldn’t have even made the news."
"I think it's just plain odd," said Carl Rubin, operations manager at software consultancy firm Monument Data Solutions, Needham, Mass. "The refs on the field check the balls. They handle the ball all the time during the game, probably more than the quarterback does. When they press the ball into the earth, they should know what it feels like. An umpire in baseball can tell if something is wrong with the ball just by looking at it. How could the ref not have noticed if something was wrong if they are holding it?"
Rubin said he has his own theory as to why this story is persisting.
"No one has said what the deflation is from the league," he said. "Maybe this is to gain attention for the Super Bowl so the NFL is purposely not saying anything. It's the leading story on all the major networks. Everyone was saying the Colts player who picked off Brady complained about the ball, but he came out and said he didn’t think anything was wrong with it. How much more money does the NFL make per million viewers? This will lead to more people watching the Super Bowl. They've had all week to clear this up. The Super Bowl is the top story because of this every day. They make millions on this story. Why would they kill it?"
Rubin said despite the distraction he's very excited for the Super Bowl and is a huge Patriots fan. He also thinks the Patriots have a good shot at taking out the defending Super Bowl champions as he views the New England defense as better than the Seattle offense, and the special teams unit of the Patriots is a big factor that is being underplayed.
He added that if the Patriots were actually doctoring footballs routinely they would have been caught before this.
"I think [Belichick and Brady] sounded honest about it at the press conference," Rubin said. "When you look at this, they could get in a lot of trouble over this. Why would they deflate balls? Wouldn't they have been caught before now? The refs are handling the ball more than the players are. Why wouldn't they get caught now? Something seems fishy and it's not from the Patriots' side. It's more from the league side. For us in Boston, it takes away from the fun, but for everyone else it's great because they get to jump on the Patriots."