As the search for evidence of other allegations of cheating against the Patriots continues, the search for evidence of other allegations of cheating by other teams continues. As does the search for evidence of other admissions of cheating.
Consider this 2006 article from Judy Battista, then of the New York Times and currently of NFL Media. It focuses on quarterback preferences regarding their footballs, and it includes the following paragraph regarding the preferences of former Texans quarterback David Carr.
“Carr, like several other quarterbacks, said Denver was one of the toughest places to play,” Battista wrote. “He said he thought the ball expanded slightly at the altitude and felt slick because of the lower humidity. Before Houston’s preseason game at Denver, Carr instructed the ball boys to let a little air out of the Texans’ footballs.” (Emphasis added.)
When that statement was published in November 2006, no one said a word about the possibility that the Texans or anyone else was cheating. And if it sparked any type of consternation for the league office, those issues remained internal — resolved without any sort of brouhaha, investigation, or discipline.
Of course, the article isn’t entirely favorable to the ongoing cause of Patriots fans to prove that other teams did that which the Patriots insist they didn’t do. The article explained that former Texans quarterback Tony Banks once told Carr that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady “liked the balls so broken in that it looked as if he had been using them since junior high school.”
“I relate it to an old baseball glove,” Brady told Battista. “If you have a glove, when you get it right from the store, the leather is very stiff and very difficult to break in. The preservative on the football, when you get it off, it’s easier to get a grip. It’s having a ball that doesn’t slip out of your hands.”
Wanting the leather to be broken in is much different from deliberately deflating the footballs. Regardless, nothing in the article got anyone in trouble, perhaps because before January 18, 2015 it was a given that quarterbacks like their footballs to feel a certain way — and it also was a given that the league had no reason to keep them from being able to comfortably throw the ball.
That’s an important factor for the NFL to consider as it changes the ball-handling procedures. If the process becomes so strict that quarterbacks can’t comfortably throw the ball, does that really benefit a league that has discovered its highest levels of popularity with souped-up passing games and the kind of scoring that fuels fantasy football?