Mike Freeman, Bleacher Report — When the New England Patriots were penalized first- and fourth-round picks in May 2015 because of Deflategate, the reaction around the league could only be described as massive joy. Fist bumps and high-fives flew inside NFL front offices and locker rooms.
“When they were busted,” one front-office executive said, “I thought, ‘Good! The league finally caught those cheating douchebags.'” …
In the year since, something really strange and unexpected has happened.
I spoke to many of these same sources, 10 interviewed in total, and they now have completely the opposite view. …
A significant portion of the league now believes the Patriots did not in fact deflate footballs in the 2015 AFC title game against the Indianapolis Colts. And begrudgingly, these people also believe the Patriots should get those picks back. …
They think, in effect, that what happened to the Patriots could happen to any of them.
I can’t begin to express how warm it makes me feel inside to know that so many people in the NFL have chosen to take the Patriots’ side now. It’s really satisfying to hear how much support they’re getting. Especially this groundswell of sympathy about getting the draft picks back.
Of course, it could have come sooner. Or been more public. Hell, maybe some of this sudden compassion toward the Patriots’ plight could have taken some form other than a few anonymous comments a couple of days before the first round of the draft. I don’t know, maybe they could have spoken out on the record. Or taken it up with the NFL. Maybe realized that their silence is allowing the megalomaniac in the commissioner’s office to run roughshod over the most successful franchise in their game and said something months ago.
But I guess that’s asking too much. Instead, these cowards are like neighbors who stared out their window watching the Patriots’ house get ransacked and could never be bothered to call 911. Now they’re coming over with a “Gee, that sucks about your house. Hope the thieves don’t hit our street again. Well, see ya around” and go back to their Barcalounger and 60-inch LCD TV. With friends like these, the Patriots are set on enemies.
The best we can hope for is that what has come around to New England goes around to these frauds. When they came for the Patriots, I said nothing because I did not like the Patriots. When they came for Tom Brady, I said nothing, because I was not Tom Brady. By the time they came for me, there was no one left to speak up.
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