I have a hard time believing what I am hearing, considering the franchise, who owns it, who coaches it, what they have experienced in the past and what could happen now..
It is Day 3-of the NFL probe into “Deflate-Gate”, the investigation into whether the New England Patriots used under inflated balls in Sunday’s AFC-championship game bashing of the Indianapolis Colts.
Reports are at least 11of the 12-balls seized at the end of the game, from the Patriots ball bag, were under-inflated by 2-pounds or more. CBS-referee turned analyst Mike Carey admitted, he was surprised at the delays in the game at the line of scrimmage when ball exchanges took place.
Colts LB-DaQuell Jackson picked off a pass late in the second quarter, and notices the ball had soft spots, was not rock hard, as he came to the sidelines. He gave it to an assistant coach, who noticed the same thing, and then relayed the message to Coach Chuck Pagano.
The info travelled upstairs to Ryan Grigson, the Colts GM, who then went to NFL game exec Mike Kensil. From there, the probe began.
Yes, NFL footballs can lose air in very cold weather, but 52-degrees and rain is not the the cause of this.
NFL officials examined 12 balls from each team before the game, for inflation numbers and weight. They retain the balls till kickoff, when they are put into a ‘ball bag’ on each sideline, under the jurisdcition of a ball boy, who exchanged balls with the officials during the game. Those ball boys were employed by the Patriots.
The Colts use their ‘approved balls’ when Andrew Luck is at the line of scrimmage. The Patriots feed their approved balls to Tom Brady.
Now we know that virtually all the Patriots balls were under weight; none of the Colts balls were tampered with. The NFL officials crew said all 24-ballts they examined before the game, were the proper size when they turned them over to the respective teams.
It is hard to believe, with what was at stake, not a Patriots win, but the credability of the outcome of the game, that anyone would tamper with this.
But then again, these are the the Patriots, the ones involved in lots of intrigue and espionage.
History books write about Bill Parcells, and his coaching era with the Jets-Giants-Pats. History retells the tampering story involving Bill Belicheck bolting New York after taking the Jets job to go to New England and the draft pick compensation New England had to pay..
The history annals remember ‘Spygate’ the illegal Patriots video taping of opponents workouts. That led to a half million dollar fine of the coach, a quarter of a million dollar fine of the organization, and loss of draft picks.
Two weeks ago, allegations of illegal formations in a playoff game that led to mismatches in blown coverages, all triggered by the Patriots.
One has a hard time putting your arms around a great leader like Robert Kraft ever allowing this to happen. But on his ownership watch, those other things happened.
One has a hard time imagining Belicheck would loiter in the shadow of anything unethical, but his name is splattered around the history book for misdeeds too.
Here is the question of the day. Did New England cheat again?
And the bigger question of the day, speaking of balls. If they did, would the NFL dare suspend Bill Belicheck from coaching in the Super Bowl, as a repeat rules offender. Before you say no, think Sean Payton, New Orleans, the “Bounty Club”.
The NFL says there will be a decision in the next day or so.
Is “Deflate-Gate” going to have its own page in the NFL history book?