Deflategate, the College Course

AP Photo
The Associated Press

Deflategate moves from everyone’s living room to one professor’s classroom this fall. The University of New Hampshire offers students a for-credit course titled simply, “Deflategate.”

“There was a lot of support for titling the class Deflategate because it serves as an illustration of what the course is about—an undergraduate survey course on sports, law and journalism,” Michael McCann, a writer for Sports Illustrated and professor of law at the University of New Hampshire, tells Breitbart Sports.

Limited to 75 students, McCann’s class meets Wednesdays—smart move, no football games to compete with—this fall for two hours and fifty minutes. With the Durham, New Hampshire, campus ensconced in Patriot Nation, McCann should not encounter any under-enrollment problems.

“The readings will mainly consist of major sports law cases, including Flood v. Kuhn and O’Bannon v. NCAA, among others,” McCann tells Breitbart Sports. “I’ll also include legal briefs and law articles. Deflategate will be covered at the end of the course. The Wells Report will be one reading, for sure, and other readings for this section of the course will include any documents related to appeals or legal challenges by [Tom] Brady.”

McCann covers the controversy for Sports Illustrated, and he says he’ll assign his writings, too.

In his most recent piece for SI, McCann says the Wells Report utilized “a noticeably low bar in accusing Brady of serious wrongdoing” and dubs the characterization of the Patriots quarterback being “at least generally aware” of malfeasance as “awfully inviting of blame. What exactly is ‘general awareness?’ The report never defines it but presumably it could include very low levels of knowledge by Brady.” The article outlines possible responses by Brady in the media, courts, and the league.

McCann’s writing on the case dates back to AFC Championship Game in January, when NFL referees, tipped off by Indianapolis Colts employees, discovered that Patriots game balls contained less than the 12.5 psi minimum dictated by the rules (three of four examined Colts balls, according to the measurements of at least one referee, also contained less than regulation air pressure). The Patriots won the game 45-7 and went on to win by a much tighter margin over the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl.

As McCann’s mention of “appeals or legal challenges” indicates, the controversy won’t likely die anytime soon. With the Super Bowl MVP facing a possible suspension, inevitable appeals and the possible absence of the quarterback from the NFL season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 10 will keep the story that won’t go away from going away.

McCann insists that Deflategate, surely an attention-grabbing title for a college class, works as just one of numerous topics for the course.

“Deflategate is one of several major controversies that we’ll explore and students will learn about related legal issues that have arisen,” the University of Virginia law graduate notes. “For instance, students will learn about the legal significance of Tom Brady being in a union and why his rights and obligations are different from those for non-player Patriots employees who were subject to the investigation. Students will also learn about the legal powers of leagues to self-regulate and, in light of that, why the NFL Constitution and Collective Bargaining Agreement are different legal documents and are treated differently under labor, antitrust and private association laws.”