The NFL reportedly discovered on Tuesday that 11 of the 12 footballs used by the New England Patriots in their 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game weren't fully inflated.
ESPN insider Chris Mortensen had the details:
The surreptitious Spygate swindle will raise suspicions about the Patriots' role in the latest rule-breaking controversy the franchise is engulfed in.
Twitter's reaction to Tuesday's news reflects the enduring New England dynamic: those who dislike the Pats and label them cheaters, and those who don't buy the nefarious theories and laud their tradition of excellence.
Bleacher Report's Adam Lefkoe and Shalise Manza Young of The Boston Globe discuss reaction to Deflategate in the video below:
NBC News' Luke Russert is on the former side of the fence in his criticism of head coach Bill Belichick:
Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner provided his take on the allegations, (via Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News):
Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner weighed in as well:
Bob Kravitz of WTHR.com in Indiana believes Belichick's brilliance is tainted by the multiple allegations of bending or breaking the rules:
Fox Sports Ohio's Joe Reedy wondered whether Belichick would face any discipline from the league for the deflated-football fiasco:
ESPN's J.A. Adande offered a lighter take on the situation:
The same was true for Colts punter Pat McAfee, who ran through an interesting hypothetical scenario in the unlikely event the Pats' purported tactics disqualify them from Super Bowl XLIX:
Colts tight end Dwayne Allen didn't blame the improperly inflated balls for the team's loss:
Former NFL quarterback-turned analyst Tim Hasselbeck noted that quarterbacks are meticulous about the footballs they use:
Former quarterback Mark Brunell confirmed Hasselbeck's statement, and noted that it was possible that Belichick wouldn't know about the tampering:
Following Tom Brady's Thursday press conference, in which he denied any wrongdoing or knowledge of any wrongdoing in the matter, Bleacher Report NFL analyst Chris Simms shared his reaction to Brady's comments:
For another player's perspective, Carolina Panthers kicker Graham Gano described how he addressed a similar matter in his team's home playoff game this year against the Arizona Cardinals, via CBSSports.com's Will Brinson:
Giants offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz compared deflating footballs to doctoring baseballs:
NBC Charlotte chief meteorologist Brad Panovich used the catchy hashtag in addition to offering his expert opinion on how the weather impacts ball pressure:
Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman noted he was hearing calls for Belichick to be suspended:
Chris Simms of Bleacher Report weighed in on a potential punishment for the Patriots:
The Nation's Dave Zirin was in the minority in opting to defend the Patriots:
Rotoworld's Patrick Daugherty was in the same boat to a degree:
Sports tax expert Robert Raiola alluded to the silver lining this issue has created amid what would often otherwise be a week without much NFL news:
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski poked a bit of fun at the notion of deflated footballs on Sunday. Perhaps there was a more literal meaning behind Gronkowski's explanation, based on this observation from John Breech of CBSSports.com:
Showtime host Jim Rome addressed the current upheaval, using Spygate as context:
If the current investigation reported by ESPN.com confirms the footballs were under-inflated, it could still be impossible to know whether New England intentionally deflated them or not. In that event, however, it may have resulted in a tactical advantage in the matchup with the Colts.
As Simms explained in the prior video, it is easier to spin a football in the type of weather the AFC Championship Game fostered.
Andrew Luck carried Indianapolis' offense all season long, losing any semblance of a running game when Ahmad Bradshaw went down with a season-ending injury. If Tom Brady had to throw the same ball Luck did, perhaps he wouldn't have been far more effective and accurate than Luck in the conference title romp.
This deflated-balls investigation won't win over any new Patriots fans, but it threatens to diminish their credibility in the eyes of those who do root for them. The one way to silence critics who claim New England racks up wins year in and year out by dubious means is to defeat Seattle in the Super Bowl on Feb. 1.
Absent any rules controversy therein, knocking off the reigning champions after overcoming this "#DeflateGate" distraction would fall right in line with the Patriot Way philosophy.
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