With the NFL’s handling of the “Deflate-gate” investigation and the fact that they have no intention of announcing their findings of said investigation until after the Super Bowl, commissioner Roger Goodell has ensured that a Patriots win will tarnish not only their accomplishment, but the integrity of the league. At this point it will look curious, to say the least, if the NFL finds no wrong doing on the part of anyone within the Patriots organization, as the press conferences of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have done little to ease speculation of their role in deflating 11 of 12 footballs inspected by the league at half time of the AFC championship game against the Colts. Meanwhile, Seattle Seahawks running back was threatened with ejection from the NFC championship game if he wore gold shoes, has been fined $131,050 this season for missing media sessions and crotch-grabbing after scoring touchdowns, and faces fines for wearing a non-league approved hat at media week and barely answering the reporters in attendance, though he did actually show up.

Now Lynch’s actions may not be the best way for an NFL player to represent himself, his team, or the league during one of the most important times of the year for the league, on the grandest stage of them all. But his actions seems to agitate the league and provoke them to action in a way one would expect a league to act if it finds out a team is engaging in a cheating activity, while the process involving the actual cheating activity drags on, with no real statement from the league since the beginning of the investigation. As much as the NFL needs to do its due diligence and get this decision right after they so badly botched the Ray Rice situation, Goodell has painted himself and the league into the worst corner imaginable- the perception that the Patriots may have cheated and will be allowed to get away with it until after it matters. Seahawks corner back Richard Sherman was vocal about this during Sunday’s Pro Bowl, basically stating his belief that because Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft, a long-time friend of Goodell, has supported him for so long that nothing will happen to New England, while his teammate Lynch continues to amass fines for trivial offenses. Sherman hasn’t been fined yet for those comments, but it still could come.

One can say that the two situations are different and that Lynch should have to follow the same rules others do, but that begs the question– why are players who don’t want to represent the league by media availability, and by doing so in fact hurt the image of the league in protest- continuously forced to do something that nobody really wants them to do anyway? And more importantly, why do minor offenses like these continue to draw the ire of the league and a quicker reaction than serious offense like domestic violence by its players and cheating by its coaches, staff, and players?

Another question that begs to be raised, is why it was considered to be conduct detrimental to the league, and an organization failure to fix an internal problem during the Bounty-gate scandal for the New Orleans Saints (which led to a year-long suspension for coach Sean Peyton), while instances such as the Ray Rice debacle and now Deflate-gate have both been met with almost indifference on the part of the league. And let’s not forget that this isn’t the first time the Patriots have been the eye of a storm such as this, with Spygate nearly a decade earlier, where Goodell fined Belichick $500,000, the team $250,000, stripped New England of a first round pick, and then destroyed the evidence. It is that very unbalanced enforcement of rules that preserve the integrity of the league and the players that has led to this year’s Super Bowl, which the Seahawks now HAVE to win in order for the league to be able to avoid accusations of influencing the outcome of the championship, or at the very least turning a blind eye to a team possibly cheating due to the owner being friends with the commissioner. But keep fining Lynch.

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