Four Games In Fall proceeds to systematically tear down the official story of “Deflategate” with a combination of scientific analysis and a critical view of how the NFL investigated and adjudicated the matter. On the first count, a rudimentary explanation of the ideal gas law, and some experiments performed by an independent laboratory, cast doubt on whether any accurate, credible measure of the pressure in the Patriots and Colts’ game balls were ever really taken during the championship’s fateful halftime period. At the very least, it’s an interesting science lesson, but it’s also an eye-opening attempt at pointing out just how shaky the supposedly empirical scientific foundations of the controversy actually were.
From there, the director’s assembled legal talking heads, including a Jets-loving New York attorney and a representative of the NFLPA (the players’ union that operates independently of the league), proceed to poke holes in the case. There’s the problematic Wells Report issued by the league’s investigators, for one, and the curious wording of an accusation that Brady “destroyed” potentially damning evidence of his involvement before he appealed the official decision. It’s a lot of material to sift through, but Four Games In Fall lays it all out cogently and with an engaging “stick it to the man” fervor.
“…the relevance to our current era’s business-, government-, and media-driven controversies is hard to miss.”
And, just like any good legal drama, a compelling villain soon begins to emerge: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who the documentary alleges had ulterior motives for making an example out of Brady. This movie certainly isn’t the first media outlet to criticize his leadership, but it makes an unusually persuasive argument regarding Goodell’s inept handling of both his league’s domestic violence issues and the downplaying of traumatic brain injuries suffered by players. Goodell was desperate to save face in 2015, the interview subjects concur, and what better way to right his ship than to make an example out of his most dominant team and most recognizable player?
That, and a lot of other worthwhile questions, are posed by Four Games In Fall, and while the filmmaker doesn’t avoid expressing the sheer triviality of it all – think of all the money, the personal reputations, and the column inches of news expended over a couple of pounds of air pressure – they also shine a light on the big-picture issues that “Deflategate” exemplifies.
The film may not completely obliterate all of its rhetorical targets, but, especially in its questioning of “science for hire,” the relevance to our current era’s business-, government-, and media-driven controversies is hard to miss. And, for fans still harboring resentment from that brief, dark period in Patriots history, Four Games in Fall is can’t-miss.
"…just like any good legal drama, a compelling villain soon begins to emerge..."