Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to talk about Deflategate and how it will affect the Patriots this Sunday. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Though Bill Belichick closed the door on the topic after his press conference Saturday afternoon, Deflategate is something that has, for better or worse, captivated a nation. Initially the NFL announced that the investigation would take a few days, but recently the timetable was extended to the coming weeks. According to Florio, this could be because if the league needed to punish someone it doesn’t want to issue any suspensions for the Super Bowl.
“I think they didn’t want to get themselves into a position where they reached conclusions and then have to do something before the Super Bowl,” he said. “If you play this out to its logical conclusion and decide there was deflation, and we’re going to assume that somebody knew about this, then the NFL may have been in a position where they have to suspend Bill Belichick, suspend Tom Brady for the Super Bowl, and I don’t think they wanted to do that. So I guess what I’m saying is suspensions would be on the table depending on what they ultimately find.”
The league has been quiet, Florio said, because “everyone’s goal, from the perspective of 345 Park Avenue, is get through the Super Bowl, get past this and then we’ll worry about it later.”
The most recent development in the scandal is video of a locker room attendant disappearing into the bathroom for 90 seconds with 12 balls belonging to the Colts and 12 belonging to the Patriots. Florio said that despite news of the video only reaching the public this week, it was something the Pats had given over early on.
To some, the 90 seconds might not seem like enough time to deflate 11 footballs, but Florio said a head coach from a different NFL team tested it and said that he was able to deflate 12 balls and still have time to go to the bathroom in that time. Florio himself even did a bit of a test on his radio show last week.
“I had a football, had a needle, got it up to the microphone yesterday, and I didn’t know what was going to happen,” he said. “It was 13.5, and I popped that thing in for two seconds, and it’s a violent release of air, especially if it’s inflated to 13.5, it does not take long. And if you, you know the ball bag, it’s the bag that you lay on the ground and you zip it and they’re all right there so it’s just needle in, needle in, needle in, needle in, it doesn’t take a lot of time to do. As they call it, take the top off the ball, that’s all it is taking the top off the ball.”
Whether or not the attendant deflated the balls in the bathroom with or without the knowledge of anyone higher up, though it may be true, might not be of concern to the league. Florio noted that Spygate caused Roger Goodell to tell the owners that they “need to reduce the standard of proof in these types of cases,” that they “don’t need to have a smoking gun.” He also added that even if the attendant says he was just relieving himself, the NFL doesn’t have to accept his explanation.
“In the NFL’s perspective, the balls were underinflated,” he said. “The Colts’ weren’t, and we have this gap, this window in the chain of custody where the balls are taken behind closed doors for 90 seconds and the end result is the balls are underinflated, and we don’t care if you deny it. We’re willing to find under the low standard more likely than not, given the outcome, and I know from people I’ve spoken to in the league office, they believe the balls were underinflated and that’s all that matters, and that’s going to be a tough one to overcome regardless of whether or not anyone confesses to putting a needle in the balls and letting air out.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.
On whether this creates an ‘us against the world’ mentality for Patriots: “Absolutely, because all week long you say to the players, ‘No one thinks we can win without cheating, no one thinks we deserve to be here, everybody thinks that everything we’ve accomplished is tainted,’ and if you truly can get the players to forget about this and to remove any doubt from their own minds, and I think you can, between what Mr. Kraft said, between what coach Belichick said, I think you can, then it does create a huge advantage. Remember that, was it San Diego Week 2 of 2007, a Sunday night game after Spygate, and they just came out and obliterated the Chargers? I think there’s a chance it happens, now, there’s a big difference between the Chargers in a regular-season game and the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl, this is a good team to come out and try to blow the doors off, but I think we’re going to see a level of aggression in play calling, in the way the players conduct themselves. I think the Patriots are going to try to bring the storm early. Something occurred to me yesterday. The Russell Wilson magical comeback late in the Green Bay game, that’s a Tim Tebow outcome, and the way Belichick deals with Tim Tebow, you get up by 30 points by halftime so he doesn’t have a chance to pull the rabbit out of his hat in the fourth quarter.”
On the Packers providing the Patriots with a blueprint for Sunday: “Look at what the Packers were able to do to them. We always talk about the blueprint, where’s the blueprint? Well the Packers have given the Patriots a blueprint, and I’d say the Patriots are at least as good as the Packers at pretty much every position so you take what the Packers did,and you finish the job. You get fourth-and-goal on the 1, you don’t kick a field goal, you score the touchdown, you go for the jugular, that was what kept the Packers from winning, they were trying not to lose.”