Driving up to L. A. for Mother’s Day. Toya behind the wheel.

When we played wiffle ball as kids, a new ball cost $.25. But when it was new you couldn’t make it dance the same as when it got broken in a little.

Same with baseballs. Every new ball we got from the umpire would get massaged until our hands were red as we tried to rub the new off it. And the rituals of breaking in a brand new glove were all but sacred, as a new mitt wouldn’t catch anything worth a damn.

So here we are at the penalty phase of Deflategate, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has effectively tied his own hands.  Not only is he harnassed with recent rulings against domestic abusers, but like MLB looking the other way throughout the Steroid Era, the NFL let the foxes in the hen house in 2005 and ’06 when Brady and Manning lobbied to let each team supply its own game balls rather than sharing the same, league provided pig skins. What did the league officials think was going to happen?

The lines in this are fluid. So rubbing it up became inflating it just so, which morphed into over or under inflating it just so. It’s all very logical and even expected. But that’s modern day pro sports, which have nothing to do with the games as originally invented. It’s all entertainment. They’re selling a product to a capricious consumer. So the unspoken thinking is “we have to tweak the rules to accommodate the market.”

Look at basketball. Invented specifically as a non-contact sport, these days there’s at least one felonious assault per play-off game. And do they call traveling? Palming? Three seconds? And baseball’s strike zone is a miracle of individual umpire invention.

So Brady was just taking the League’s wink, wink, nod, nod policy to its logical conclusion like a 10 year old kid in the neighborhood who thinks he can get away with something cause nobody’s looking, and besides, everyone is doing some version of this, anyway. He thought he had wiggle room, but then he wiggled too far and they called him on it. Oops.

Now, according to the NY Daily News the NFL will announce a Brady suspension next week putting a tad of tarnish on football’s Golden Boy.

But forget fhat.  None of these Modern masters is the best QB ever. Johnny Unitas is. Old Mr. High Tops called his own plays, invented the two-minute drill, didn’t have hands-off, white-gloves defenses going against him, and still threw TDs in 47 straight games with balls somebody neutral gave him.

Get a a grip on that.



  1. I’ve been wondering since January why the league doesn’t just supply the balls themselves, as every other sports league does. I didn’t know that this was a relatively recent change. Thanks for the background, Toni!

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