ESPN — The NFL has found that 11 of 12 of the New England Patriots game balls were inflated significantly less than the NFL requires, league sources involved and familiar with the investigation of Sunday’s AFC championship game told ESPN.
The investigation found the footballs were underinflated by 2 pounds per square inch of air less than what’s required by NFL regulations during the Pats‘ 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, according to sources. …
Yet to be determined is what, if any, penalties may be imposed upon Patriots. One source described the league as “disappointed … angry … distraught,” after spending considerable time on the findings earlier Tuesday. Part of the investigation that still needs further vetting is how the 11 footballs became underinflated. The game balls provided to each team for preparation were required to be inspected and approved by referee Walt Anderson two hours and 15 minutes before kickoff before they were returned to a ball attendant before the game.
Right now, as we sit here, Deflategate is in the “We know what we don’t know” stage.
We don’t know if Chris Mortensen’s report is correct, or if his source is someone with a vendetta against the Patriots fully invested in making them look bad. Certain brain-addled, pill-popping billionaire team owners, perhaps.
We don’t know how, assuming Mortensen is right, the balls came to be underinflated.
We don’t know if they were inspected the way they’re supposed to be.
But we do know a few things. For starters, we know that from the time the balls were handing to the ball attendant until the confetti cannons were going off, they weren’t just supervised by some zit-faced high school kid. They were supervised by league officials, dozens of TV cameras, NFL Films and 70,000 people holding cell phone cameras in a TMZ world. The idea that the ball boy somehow in the middle of all that surveillance slipped a needle into the ball when no one was looking would be laughable if it wasn’t so preposterous.
We also know that after every play those balls got handled by officials more than Rob Gronkowski‘s at a bachelorette party. Julian Edelman goes out of bounds. He hands it to the side judge. He flips it to the line judge. He tosses it to Walt Anderson. If in all that not one of them noticed that the ball seemed a little saggy, then they are the worst officiating crew in the history of football and should’ve been fired at halftime.
We know that quarterbacks go past the league specs on air pressure all the time. And when a media darling like Aaron Rodgers does it, it’s harmless fun and the world has a big chuckle about it:
We also know that after D’Qwell Jackson picked off that Brady pass, decided the ball felt a little squishy and brought it to the attention of his coaches, this happened:
Tom Brady in the first half: 11-for-21, 52 percent completions, 95 yards, one touchdown, one interception, 60.6 passer rating
Tom Brady in the second half: 12-for-14, 86 percent completions, 155 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions, 157.3 passer rating
Patriots in the first half: Outscored the Colts 17-7
Patriots in the second half: Outscored the Colts 28-0
We know that none of this will shut up the fundamentalist Patriots-haters. IndyStar’s Gregg Doyel went on Dennis & Callahan Wednesday morning and not only doubled down on his ridiculous idea the Patriots shouldn’t go to the Super Bowl, he said Green Bay should go. The same Green Bay that just lost to Seattle and whose MVP quarterback’s penchant for overinflated balls had Jim Nantz and Phil Simms giggling like schoolgirls.
And we know that this is just a decimal point followed by a half dozen zeros of what we’re about to hear. The world will want Bill Belchick suspended for next year. Or suspended for the Super Bowl. Or lashed in the streets of Glendale like a Saudi Arabian blogger. No one will stop at the demand for fines or forfeited draft picks. They’re out for blood.
I say bring it on. Embrace the hatred. I’m semi-retiring from the business of defending Belichick and the Patriots and now I’m going all in on accepting their inherent evilness. It’s time to go from arguing with the anti-Patriots cyberbullies to going all wrestling heel on everybody’s ass:
Did the Patriots cheat? Hell yeah! Damn right they cheated! What about it, Indy? Are you going to cry now? They always cheat! They cheated when they ran the ineligible receiver play. They cheated when they messed with the clock in the 2011 championship game. They jam your quarterback’s radio. Videotape your signals. And you’re damn right they figured out a way to let the air out of balls with the whole world watching. What are you going to do about it, NFL? Cancel the Super Bowl? Send the Colts and be a laughingstock? There’s nothing you can do except sit back helplessly and watch the most hated team in all of sports win a trophy they’ll all call “tainted” but will look exactly like the trophy everyone else has ever won and no one in the six New England states (minus parts of Connecticut) will care. We cheat, but we cheat to win and nobody can stop us! Bwahahaha! Deflate that, America!
Because at this point, until we know what happened here, what else can you do?