On Monday, January 19, 2015 the NFL announced they were investigated the New England Patriots for deflating footballs (to make it easier to handle) during the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Does the NFL have a rule in place for sending an alternate team to the Super Bowl if one of the original two teams (winners from the AFC/NFC championships) is found "ineligible" due to punishment or suspension? If so, would who would be the alternate?

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    This article suggests that draft picks would be lost if the Patriots are found guilty. Any claim that the Patriots would not play in the Super Bowl in light of these events is pure speculation. – user527 Jan 19 '15 at 19:49
  • @edmastermind29 Which is why I am asking if there is a rule about sending an alternate team to the Super Bowl. Which I think is on-topic (not deserving of a downvote). – Chrismas007 Jan 19 '15 at 20:02
  • Right. I am addressing that the only punishment announced by the media thus far is the loss of draft picks (if the Patriots are guilty)...and clearly stating that any claim about "disqualifying" the Patriots from the Super Bowl (unless the commissioner does so, as referenced by the answer) has not been reported thus far. I am not questioning the scope of this question. – user527 Jan 19 '15 at 20:18
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    Public service announcement: if you've found this post and you want to add something saying how much you think the Patriots suck, or what should happen to the Patriots for this specific incident, please don't bother as we'll just delete it. Christmas007 is interested in what potential penalties exist, not what you think should happen in this specific case. If you want to discuss the Patriots, there are plenty of other forums on the web you can use for that - please don't pollute this discussion. Thanks. – Philip Kendall Jan 22 '15 at 12:27
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    This question has been protected to prevent rants and the like. – user527 Jan 22 '15 at 14:28

Rule 17, Section 2 of the NFL rulebook includes the provision for the Commissioner to do a number of things, including reversing a game's result or rescheduling a game if things happen which

he deems so extraordinarily unfair or outside the accepted tactics encountered in professional football that such action has a major effect on the result of the game.

Therefore in theory the Commissioner could use this section to reverse the result of the game and send the Colts to the Superbowl.

However, it should be noted that this provision has never been enforced in the NFL, and I think it would be stretch to argue that any tampering with the footballs had "a major effect" on the result of the game - the Patriots won by a country mile.

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    As I remember, during the 1994 winter Olympics, the committee had Michelle Kwan on hand in the event that they declared Tanya Harding ineligible, after Nancy Kerrigan had been injured. – Tom Au Jan 19 '15 at 20:57
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    I can't disagree with your last paragraph any more. It is absurd to say that something had a "little" effect or "marginal" effect. Saying anything like this is like saying that you have godly powers and can distribute an alternate future. One play can swing any game and completely change a team's play calling, demeanor, psyche, injuries. Either a team cheated or not. As a lifetime coach I can say one thing for sure, nobody knows. – Coach-D Jan 19 '15 at 22:53
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    I may not be able to distribute an alternate future, but there's good evidence that the Patriots victory was achieved via running and special teams, not via passing. – Philip Kendall Jan 21 '15 at 22:12
  • I don't think you get my point. Look at the play-by-play. Obviously Belichek wanted to give the impression at the beginning of the game that this game would be different from the past two against the Colts. They came out in shotgun a lot and threw the ball. If the "balls" helped in doing that, kept an interception from happening, or incompletions then game might be different. It was apparent after the first quarter that Indy backed off the run a bit and was playing the pass. Maybe it was bad game plan but maybe they saw holes in their D over the first quarter. – Coach-D Jan 21 '15 at 23:49

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