By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — DeflateGate is back, and it’s back big!

OK, maybe not. However, the NFL is looking into a curiously deflated football that was used by the Pittsburgh Steelers in a preseason game against the Eagles on Thursday night in Philadelphia.

Howard Eskin of WIP said on Twitter that a football used during the game was so deflated that it looked “like a marshmallow.”

This is, of course, very troubling. Perhaps the most troubling development of the entire calendar year.

Frankly, there’s not much the NFL can do, short of launching a full-scale, multi-million dollar investigation to get to the bottom of what is very clearly and obviously a case of cheating. The integrity of the game is at stake here, and the multi-billion dollar NFL should spare no expense in exposing this blatant disregard for the rules.

The NFL is a league of rules. No matter who you are, or where you play, you are all subjected to the same rules. This is non-negotiable.

Now, some might say that a team would never cheat to win a preseason game. Others might still say that a football having less air in it is not “cheating,” per se. Those people would be wrong. If the rules don’t apply in the preseason, then they shouldn’t ever apply. This is the NFL. Disgusting instances of cheating should never be allowed.

What’s most disturbing about the most recent instance of cheating (we’re not using the word “allegation” here; the football looked like a marshmallow for cry-eye) is that it’s not the first time the Steelers have been caught red-handed. How soon we all forget that just two seasons ago, Ben McAdoo and the Giants (cheaters in their own right) alerted officials to tell them that Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers were using underinflated footballs during a December game.

So, December of 2016, the Steelers were busted using underinflated footballs. The Giants tested the footballs. They stuck a gauge in. They measured under the allowable limit. Cheating. Cheating. Cheaters!

(Please, everybody, don’t tell the Giants about basic science. Don’t tell anyone that it was a 4:25 p.m. game in December in the Northeast and was, accordingly, cold. Don’t do it. We’ve got a case of cheating here, folks.)

Now it’s August of 2018, and what’s that? Some more cheating? Some marshmallow levels of cheating?

For the sake of record-keeping, Mason Rudolph was the quarterback at the time. And as we all know beyond any doubt, a football can’t be underinflated on a football field unless the quarterback did it. So if Rudolph was generally aware of something that may or may not have happened? Sorry, rook. But you’re going to have to prepare for a nice month-long vacation. Don’t bother fighting it; the courts will only break you down. (WORKING THEORY: Ben Roethlisberger, who wasn’t happy to see the Steelers draft a quarterback, was behind the whole thing. What better way to stunt a teammate’s development than to plant a marshmallow of evidence to land him in Goodell’s disciplinary crosshairs? Cue the thinking man emoji!)

I, for one, am repulsed by the goings-on of the league I once knew to be pure. I — and anyone else who cares dearly about the great sport of football — can only hope that the brave and courageous Roger Goodell investigates this matter with the full heft and might of the National Football League. I want equipment managers interrogated. Give me their names and home addresses while we’re at it. I want text messages printed out for all the world to see. Show me the security footage. Give me leaked false reports. GIVE ME TED WELLS.

It’s only right. The Steelers have been caught cheating for the second time in as many years. It’s time that everybody starts getting suspended. For integrity.

(In case it wasn’t clear, this was all in jest. The NFL should “investigate” this matter by saying, “Huh, guess a football was deflated during a preseason game. OK.” Nobody ever cared about football inflation levels until the Ravens and Colts threw some potentially baseless accusations at the Patriots. Then it was the greatest issue in the history of sports. The government had to get involved. Professional news men were covering the matter. Bill Nye stuck his Seahawks-loving nose in there. Tom Brady was asked, “What’s up with our hero?” It was a mess. And it was all so stupid.)

(If you actually care about PSI, then you are a nerd.)

UPDATE: Instead of a multi-year, multi-million dollar investigation, DeflateGate 3.0 is over. The NFL said all protocols were followed and that the defective ball was removed and sent to the manufacturer, Wilson. Perhaps the NFL will seek a refund. The Duke is not cheap! Anyway, maybe the third time the Steelers get caught blatantly cheating, the NFL will act.

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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