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The NFL playoffs, from the first week leading into the Super Bowl, has been home to controversy. The most recent flap has come from the AFC Championship game, in which reportedly footballs were deflated by two pounds of pressure, in order to make the ball easier to catch.

Many know this is not the first go-round for the New England Patriots. In 2007 they were caught videotaping the New York Jets coaches’ signals during a game, the scam famously known as “Spygate.”

Now with “Inflate-gate,” the Patriots have been caught again. Initially, commentators have come out defending the AFC Champions, saying the illegal act did not affect the result of the game. Now, the critics are coming down hard, as more evidence has revealed that 11 of the Patriots’ 12 game balls were tampered. This issue will not go quietly into the night.

Debates will continue. What penalty should be enforced? Draft picks removed? Fines? Suspensions?

But what can be learned from this? I think it is fascinating how the American culture wants to hold professional sports to a high standard. Compromise can be justified in other aspects of society, but when it comes to tampering with athletic equipment or illegally recording opposing teams’ information in order to gain an advantage, this is where the line is drawn.

I don’t condone these practices by the Patriots. From their record of achievement through the years, they don’t need to lower their standards in order to be successful. It could be that, like others who have risen to a supposed level of being “untouchable,” those in the Patriots organization may consider themselves to be exempt from adhering to certain rules or principles. They are not alone in this smug philosophy. The adage “It’s only cheating if you get caught” is a popular cry.

I miss the days of Tom Landry strolling the sidelines. I know my biasness may be criticized, but the man in the funny hat who led the Dallas Cowboys to a reputation of success in the 70s and early 80s also was known to have a reputation of character.

  • “I’ve learned that something constructive comes from every defeat.”
  • “Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.”
  • “If you are prepared, you will be confident, and will do the job.”
  • “A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.”

These are a few sayings attributed to Coach Landry and his reputation of doing things the right way

There’s another saying “It’s not the clothes that make the man, it’s the man that makes the clothes.” Silly comparisons could be made of the coaching attire today compared to the suits that legendary coaches wore on game day. But maybe there’s more that could be said when comparing not only clothing but also character.

A good name is to be chosen over great wealth” (Prov. 22:1)