Don’t you dare deflate that football. DON’T YOU DARE.

How many times, as a child, did you have a sudden urge to go outside and toss around a football?

It’s the ultimate common denominator that connects young boys — going to the park with a friend, or stepping into the backyard with your dad, and playing catch.

But since your home is not a Modell’s Sporting Goods, you first have to remember where you left the only football you own — the one you got as a gift for that birthday party you had at the arcade when you were 7.

You search your closet and the basement before finally finding it in the same box in the garage where you keep your old shoes. Since it’s been long unused, it’s probably dust-ridden and deflated. But it’s your only option, so you wash it off, give it a quick pump and it’s good to go.

Thomas BradyWell, if you were an NFL player, that reckless behavior just earned you a suspension. You cheating, rotten scoundrel.

The league finally handed down its punishment to the New England Patriots for using under-deflated footballs during the playoffs last year, and it’s hefty: a $1 million fine, the loss of two draft picks, and a four-game ban for quarterback Tom Brady, who, a league-commissioned independent investigation ruled was implicit in the scandal.

There will be two prevailing thoughts on this. Number one is that this whole thing is pretty trivial. It’s under-inflated footballs we’re talking about here. It’s nothing that causes any one harm, and it’s not even conclusive just how much of an advantage it gives a player.

On the other hand, rules are rules. It’s still cheating. All throughout childhood, we’re taught as young athletes to respect the game. Only losers cheat because they can’t win fair and square.

The Patriots broke the rules. They cheated. And they deserve to be punished.

Whether you agree with the severity of the punishment is a separate issue altogether. Many will note the length of the suspension given to Brady compared to the one given to Ray Rice last year — two games — after he punched out his wife in an elevator.

But let’s go back to the kids. Because that’s really what life is all about, right? Grooming our nation’s youth.

As you enter adulthood, you will be tempted by many things that could lead you astray. Drugs, alcohol, gambling, straightening paper clips so they no longer serve their intended purpose, and throwing empty Gatorade bottles and sea gulls on the beach are among those things. I’m obviously not going to tell you what you can and cannot do. It’s your life. I just advise you to act cautiously and to make smart decisions.

But if you ever, ever, decide to use an improperly deflated football, whether it’s for use in a game, for having a catch with your pops, or even just to transfer from one box to another in your dirty ass garage, then know one thing.

You are scum.

Good day to you.

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