If I had a dollar for every time this week I was asked about the recent Patriots football happenings, I could take my wife for a very nice dinner at a five-star restaurant!
So here’s my candid commentary on the incident and what I believe is the real issue here.
Full disclosure…I really haven’t been following this whole thing at all!
I have no idea whether the Patriots deflated the balls or not. I watched some of the game, but I haven’t followed any of the media frenzy the last several days. And, frankly, I really don’t care.
What you have to understand is that everyone in the NFL doctors up the footballs to the limit of the rules. It happens in college games too. I’m not condoning or condemning, but that’s the way it is. Players don’t want to think about the ball during a game—they want everything their way so they can just go play with a free mind. As a quarterback, I was picky about the ball, but kickers and punters are even more sensitive. I’ve seen and heard of guys putting footballs in the dryer, microwaving them, sanding them, and all sorts of other things. Footballs get wiped down all the time. I always wiped down new balls with a wet cloth and then went and scuffed them on the turf to get rid of any slippery film. The limits of air pressure are always pushed depending on players’ preferences. And kickers and punters are always smashing and squishing the ball in different ways to soften it up.
In my humble opinion, last Sunday, regardless of the ball, the Patriots were just better. They won 45-7. On that given day, they were the superior team in that they took it to the Colts in a strong way. You can’t tell me the ball made 38 points of difference in that game. It was just not the Colts game to win.
So to answer the question, I guess I’m not too hung up on the balls. What I am hung up on is the bigger issue here.
And the bigger issue here is integrity.
Whether Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the Patriots’ equipment team deflated the footballs or not, I believe the deeper issue was captured by King Solomon when he penned Proverbs 22:1:
A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
I have no idea if they broke the rules or not. I have no idea what happened in that equipment room or locker room. But I do know that the Patriots’ name and brand is now tainted in the minds of many because of their alleged spying last season and now this alleged incident. And according to God’s authoritative word, a tainted name is a big problem.
Why does God use Solomon to remind us that a good name is so important?
Imagine one of the most generous people you know. Now imagine that someone came and told you they stole something. What would you say?
No! Never! They would never do that!
You know their character. They are generous. And you’ve seen evidence of them selflessly giving of their time, talent, and treasure to help others. This person would never steal—it’s not in line with whom they’ve established themselves to be as a person. Our internal character is established through our external actions. That’s how the world sees who we are.
But the challenge here is when someone accuses the Patriots of deflating footballs—whether that accusation is true or false—our society goes back into the archives, re-reads the “Spygate” accusations, and says, The Patriots may have deflated the balls. Why? Because cheating could be in line with their character. It seems plausible and possible.
As followers of Jesus, it is SO VITAL that we guard our character and not fall victim to common culture and looking like the rest of the world. We not only carry our family name, we carry the name of the Creator of the universe into the world each day. “The reputation of a thousand years can be destroyed in a single moment,” and every word and deed each day says something about who we are and the God we serve.
The vast majority the Old Testament is about God focusing on building a nation of people that are different than the world. Living in the world, but not of the world. Living in the culture, but not conforming to the culture. If we don’t look any different than the rest of the world, how do we have any credibility for his namesake? Why should anyone listen to our story of God’s work in our lives?
God has purposefully chosen us—humans created in his image—to further his work in the world. We are his instrument to share the hope of Jesus Christ with the nations. Broken and flawed as we are, through the grace of God poured out through Jesus on the cross, we are given the ability to represent him daily. It’s an amazing privilege, filled with joy but also weighty responsibility. We are only as credible as the next decision we make, and if we want to share the joy we have from our relationship with Jesus with others, our credibility is crucial.
Let’s all take a lesson away from the Patriots’ incident that’s far bigger and far more meaningful than deflated footballs. Let’s live the life of integrity and purpose that God desires from us all. This life is about serving God and others to the best of our abilities. The character and credibility of our Heavenly Father is on the line!
IT’S YOUR TURN…Share your thoughts….what three words would you like to be the epitome of your character? We’d love to hear your responses!