Knocking down Joel McHale’s theoretical straw man

Joel McHale was a panelist on last night’s Nightly Show when the conversation turned to hashtag deflategate. McHale came down hard for Tom Brady, so much so that he advanced a completely spurious and silly argument in Brady’s defense.

Now, admittedly, he might have realized how silly it was, because Joel only got about half the point out of his mouth before pulling up:

If you give the balls to another team, they’re going — just like — every — this is so dumb. It is so overdone, it’s ridiculous.

Figuring out what McHale wanted to say is going to take some serious sleuthing. I could parse the sentence slowly word by word, but here’s how I read the argument as a whole:

If [the Patriots] give the [deflated] balls to [their opponents], [those opponents a]re going [to benefit] just like [the Patriots did]. This is so dumb. It is so overdone, it’s ridiculous.

Now it’s possible I’m leaping to some conclusions, and you should certainly feel free to suggest something more plausible in the comments, but this is the most sensible reading I could come up with.*

Except for, you know, that it’s not really all that sensible at all.

It sounds to me a lot like McHale was trying to argue that even if the Patriots did deflate game balls, both teams benefitted equally, and it therefore didn’t affect the outcome of a game. Except, of course, that each team uses its own set of balls on offense, so only the Patriots would benefit from the deflation. Indeed, the Colts were only able to submit a deflated football as evidence after one of them intercepted a Brady pass and ran it back to his own sideline.

In other words, this argument comes off as just so dumb and overdone and ridiculous (and Patriotic) that there is absolutely no doubt in my mind: McHale must be a, uh, **checks** Seattle native and devoted Seahawk fan.

*Another possible alternative that makes little more sense to me:

If [the NFL were to] give the [undeflated] balls to another [NFL] team, they’re going [to deflate them] just like [Tom Brady]. [E]very [team cheats]. This is so dumb. It is so overdone, it’s ridiculous.

To which I would say:

Again, feel free to suggest your own reading in the comments.


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