He’s a truther and a cheat?

He’s a truther and has a history of cheating! Pete Carroll, that is.

The right team won, no remaining doubt.

But he was also out-coached. The thought in my mind as the game wound down was why doesn’t Boston call a timeout? It was certain Seattle was about to score. Therefore, although there was virtually no time left, you would think they would want all the time they could grab to run a play or two themselves. However:

Seattle took over at the Patriots’ five with 1:06 remaining. After Jermaine Kearse’s amazing catch, Seattle had wasted a timeout after getting the play in late. So Seattle had first-and-goal with one timeout remaining.

Marshawn Lynch bulled to the one. Most everyone in the stadium expected Beilchick to use one of his two timeouts, to preserve time for a possible last-second drive.

Belichick just stood there, watching the clock run.

What was he thinking?

Maybe this:

If he calls timeout, then Seattle has the possibility of running three plays from inside the one, with their whole playbook available to them. They could run it, and if they didn’t score, run it again, knowing they could call timeout to set up a fourth down call if they didn’t score on third down.

By letting the clock run, Belichick prompted Carroll to worry about the clock. After the game, Carroll said he wanted to “waste a play” on second down. What he seemed to be saying was, his intent was to run the ball, but he wanted his second-down play, with time running down, to be a pass play, so if the Seahawks didn’t score, an incompletion would stop the clock and leave him with two plays and one timeout remaining.

Carroll also knew that if he ran on second down, the Patriots would know he would have to throw on third down, and Carroll probably wanted to avoid being that predictable.

Belichick, thinking a few moves ahead, probably anticipated Carroll wanting to pass on second down once the clock ran down, and sent a third cornerback onto the field.

When I talked to Patriots reserve cornerback Malcolm Butler last night, he said he was on the sideline for first down. He ran in when his cornerbacks coach yelled, “Goalline 3-corners.” So the Patriots had five defensive backs on the field for a play against a powerful running back from inside the one. In other words, the Patriots anticipated a pass on second down, even though Carroll was throwing on second down because he didn’t want to face a sure-passing down on third down.

That is million dollar coaching and then some.

And then there’s the most important question of all: Why Does Tom Brady Have a Menorah?

Maybe it was a gift from Brady’s brother-in-law Kevin Youkilis, the Jewish retired Red Sox first baseman who married his sister Julie in 2012. Maybe Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who, along with his late wife Myra, is known for his Jewish philanthropy, sent it over as a housewarming present (Kraft lives around the corner, and according to Leibovich encouraged his “fifth son” to move to the neighborhood). Maybe Gisele just loves Hanukkah.

Or to quote Tom Brady himself:

“We’re not Jewish,” Brady said when I asked him about this. “But I think we’re into everything. . . . I don’t know what I believe. I think there’s a belief system, I’m just not sure what it is.”

“This isn’t ISIS. No one’s dying.”

I do love North American football, the game I grew up with, played and watched. There is, I must confess, nothing like it. But there is now a scandal overtaking the Superbowl that is quite astonishing. In the conference final for the AFC, the game balls used by Boston were underinflated which apparently makes them easier to catch. And let me tell you, catching a football thrown by a real quarterback is a bracing experience – try catching a leather-covered brick thrown at you at full speed from about ten yards. I can well believe that underinflation (which is different from deflation) can be a genuine benefit.

No one is owning up to anything. But I do have to say that if the single most important tool of your trade is a football, you will know what it ought to feel like the moment you pick it up. If it’s not quite 13 pounds per square inch – that is, if it doesn’t feel like a leather-covered brick – you will know, as will all of the people who the ball is being thrown to. Had Boston not won the previous game 45-7, the story would be even more intense, but with the score so one-sided, nothing else to say. And since each team uses its own ball, the other team’s quarterback would not have had the same advantage. And since the referees check the game ball before it goes into play, and are kept separate the entire time, for the balls to have been underinflated would require a conspiracy of some proportion.

Nevertheless, what interested me this morning was this comment by the Boston Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady:

“This isn’t ISIS,” Brady said. “No one’s dying.”

Sometimes it troubles me that I can wile the hours away on such frivolity as such things as grand finals, test matches, the World Series and of course, North American football while the world is going to hell at every turn. But if Tom Brady can see the relative significance of such things, so can I.

Go Pats!

Personal Explanation and Some Follow Up: I’ve just come home from reading The Herald Sun which has as its main front page story of the day, how England’s one-day cricket captain is being blackmailed. I have checked the front pages of The Boston Globe, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The La Times and The Washington Post. All have this story on the front page, and it will no doubt rage for at least another week.

The headline lead story on Drudge is “NFL ON THE BRINK” and comes with this picture.

nfl footy

Cheating in sport is not unknown. The referees pick up the ball on every play, so it is even possible (remotely) that Brady never noticed, since they didn’t seem to notice. But it is not the end of the world as we know it, there are other events going on that are more important. I find Brady’s sanity and sense of proportion in the midst of it all quite alluring.

FUTHER UPDATE: John Hinderaker at Powerline has also bought into this, where he can see things right from inside the US. He wrote:

Over the years, some have argued that not having to care about politics is a luxury that Americans are able to enjoy because of our stable democracy and effectively guaranteed freedoms. There is some truth to that. Still, it is hard to believe it is a good thing that sports arouse more passion, attract more attention, and are more often the subject of intelligent discussion than politics. If Americans knew as much about Republicans and Democrats as they do about Seahawks and Patriots, wouldn’t the country be better off? One would think so.

In his press conference this afternoon, Tom Brady – note that there is no need to identify him (QB-NE) the way we do with politicians (R-TX) – said of the football inflation controversy, “This isn’t ISIS, you know, no one’s dying.” To me that seems like a voice of sanity, but football fans were unconvinced. At the moment, at least, “Who deflated the footballs?” is a more compelling question than “Will ISIS take Baghdad?” And eight years after the event, there are still more people who consider Bill Belichick a villain for taping opposing coaches than who consider Barack Obama a villain for violating the Constitution.

Priorities. It is all a matter of priorities.