Now that football season officially is over, Patriots fans can spend more time scouring the Internet for links and videos to support the notion, as previously articulated by PFT, that cheating in the NFL extends far beyond New England.
Multiple readers (presumably Patriots fans) have sent in recent days to PFT a link to a video published by ESPN on January 17, 2015 regarding the evolution of gloves. Dated only one day before the dawn of #DeflateGate, the segment contains an admission from Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice that he may not have made if discussing the subject after expressing an opinion to Jim Rome that the ball-deflation controversy should place an asterisk on the latest Lombardi Trophy won by the Patriots.
‘I’m going to be point blank, I feel like it’s cheating,” Rice told Rome on January 22. “Because you have an edge up on your opponent and its unfortunate that it happened. I’m not saying the outcome of the game would have been different or anything like that because they got beat 45-7, but they still had an edge.”
In that same interview, Rice added, “I’ve played in cold weather, I know how hard the football is and you can grip the leather [if deflated] just a little bit better.”
When it comes to playing football in any conditions, the challenge becomes not only throwing it but catching it. And in the ESPN segment narrated by Jim Trotter, Rice nonchalantly made a stunning (in hindsight) confession: Rice put stickum on his gloves.
“I know this might be a little illegal, guys, but you put a little spray, a little stickum on them, to make sure that texture is a little sticky,” Rice said, laughing.
It wasn’t a little illegal, it was a lot illegal. As explained in the ESPN feature, gloves were introduced to football after the NFL decided to outlaw the stuff that guys like Fred Biletnikoff and Lester Hayes (pictured) would spread copiously on their hands, and elsewhere. Rice admitted in the feature that he enhanced the surface of gloves approved for use in the NFL with a substance that would make it easier to catch the ball.
“I’m going to be point blank, I feel like it’s cheating. Because you have an edge up on your opponent and its unfortunate that it happened.”
With or without the stickum or the gloves, Rice still would have been the greatest receiver of all time. But, as he said regarding the Patriots, he still had an edge.