It’s the story made for infinite punch lines. Deflated footballs, get it? Yep, we do. But for many of those we talk to about America who live elsewhere or are recent arrivals, it goes beyond punch lines.
For them it’s about another type of deflation. It’s a deflation of something they admire most about our country, a deflation of our commitment to rules and order, which is no small thing.
On this Super Bowl Sunday, as we surround ourselves with friends, cervezas and salsa, those of us who love and value America’s uniqueness will note that there’s a little something missing.
Team owner Robert Kraft says the NFL will owe his team an apology, because of course no one in his organization has ever done anything dishonest. Right? It’s enough to make us choke on our super bowl of fajitas. The New England Patriots who recently rushed a player onto the field without informing the opposing team he was eligible before throwing him a pass are saying what?
In 2007, in an incident dubbed “spy gate,” the Patriots allegedly cheated by stealing the other team’s defensive signals after having someone videotape the New York Jet’s sideline. For a while we may have been left to assume that the camera perpetrated the violation all by itself —that is, until the league was forced to investigate and slapped head coach Bill Belichik with a $500,000 fine. It was the largest fine ever imposed on a head coach, the same coach who now claims ignorance.
And now this, the latest accusation of cheating on the part of the Patriots is being placed squarely on a ... you ready for this one? Wait for it, wait for it. Wham, “a locker room attendant.” How predictable is that?
Reports are the lad walked the balls off the field before the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts. And there’s even word the entire thing was caught on video. The video reportedly shows the ball handler taking two sacks of footballs, including quarterback Tom Brady’s balls, into a bathroom for approximately 90 seconds.
Mysteriously, when he came back, 11 of Brady’s 12 balls were mysteriously under inflated. I’ll be dammed! Imagine that. Given that Kraft, Bellichik and Brady have all denied any involvement in this matter, we are left to conclude that the young man took it upon himself to do whatever it is the Patriots are hinting he may have done. After all, it’s the Patriots who turned over the tape.
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Sound suspicious? You bet it does. But here’s the point. When you ask most foreigners or immigrants if they believe this could happen in their country – that somebody could repeatedly cheat – they’ll tell you yes, of course it could. In fact, they’ve come to expect that cops in Mexico, for example, will take bribes. We know that. We also know that FIFA officials are infamously corrupt. And we know that throughout the world, “I’ll meet you at nine A.M.” can mean anything from 9:30 to 10:30, but rarely anything before 9:15.
For some reason, that is less likely to happen in America. In fact, what immigrants and non-immigrants alike revere about America is just that: its meticulousness and sense of order. It’s the type of thing that becomes easily discernable to those of us who don’t hail from a puritan past. You might say we tend to be much more ... well, mañana-ish.
Yes, there’s no question that exactness, timeliness and order are American staples. But on this Super Bowl Sunday, as we surround ourselves with friends, cervezas and salsa, those of us who love and value America’s uniqueness will note that there’s a little something missing.