Boy, what a year for the NFL.
In case you have not heard, in the AFC Championship Game, the New England Patriots used 11 under-inflated balls throughout the course of their 45-7 blow out win over the Indianapolis Colts. An under-inflated ball allows the players to grip it easier, making it easier to throw and catch. In a sloppy, rainy game (which this was), this could be a huge advantage.
It can be debated how much of an advantage Deflategate may give a team, but the damage is nonetheless done. When you consider how many other issues the NFL has had this year, this is just another example of a league losing control of its brand.
Let’s be clear, the Patriots certainly cheated. But the worst part is that they got away with it. If the NFL really cared about its beloved shield, it would make sure there would be no possible way this could happen. For example, rather than have the teams each provide 12 balls, have the NFL provide all of the balls and not let either team see them or touch them until kickoff. Why would the NFL give a team an opportunity for an unfair advantage if it really cared?
(As an aside, as of 9:30am eastern, NFL.com has no mention of this situation anywhere on its site.)
As I have said before, the NFL seems to only care about something when it is forced to care about something. Good brands look for areas of weakness and fix them. Bad brands wait for areas of weakness to find them.