Twitter Reacts to Report of NFL Finding 11 AFC Championship Balls Under-Inflated

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIJanuary 21, 2015

USA Today

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:

Luke Russert @LukeRussert

So Belichick has spied on his opponent, deflated game balls to his advantage & allegedly told his murder suspect TE to rent a safe house.

Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner provided his take on the allegations, (via Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News): 

Brandon Browner @bbrowner27

For my 2cents Blount scored 3 rushing touchdowns. He could've carried a beach ball. Also doesn't hurt we only gave up 7 points #inflatethis

Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner weighed in as well: 

Ebenezer Samuel @ebenezersamuel

Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner on state of the Super Bowl footballs: "I don't care. They can be deflated. They can be pumped up."

Bob Kravitz of WTHR.com in Indiana believes Belichick's brilliance is tainted by the multiple allegations of bending or breaking the rules:

Bob Kravitz @bkravitz

Pats fans: give up the fantasy. Your brilliant head coach is also a cheat. 11 of 12 balls deflated. Must be the ball boys fault right?

Fox Sports Ohio's Joe Reedy wondered whether Belichick would face any discipline from the league for the deflated-football fiasco:

Joe Reedy @joereedy

If Sean Peyton got one year for Bountygate, how much does Belichick get for now two incidents of cheating?

ESPN's J.A. Adande offered a lighter take on the situation:

J.A. Adande @jadande

Sports Illustrated needs to bring back this cover http://t.co/Lz0GQcuiLW

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:

Pat McAfee @PatMcAfeeShow

If New England was to be DQ'd.. We'd be their replacements right??... I should probably lay off these strawberry margs

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:

tim hasselbeck @tthasselbeck

QB's are picky about fb's and could tell you everything about their game balls. broken in to their liking. how it works. period.

tim hasselbeck @tthasselbeck

coaches, refs, average fan wouldn't be able to tell the difference by holding them.

Former quarterback Mark Brunell confirmed Hasselbeck's statement, and noted that it was possible that Belichick wouldn't know about the tampering: 

Mark Brunell @M_Brunell8

“@PriscoCBS: What if Brady had the equipment guys do it and Belichick didn't know? Possible?”VERY

Mark Brunell @M_Brunell8

“@PriscoCBS: @M_Brunell8 did you do it?” No. I just wanted footballs rubbed down. Inflation didn't matter as much to me.

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:

Will Brinson @WillBrinson

Interesting group of tweets from @GrahamGano here about PSI in footballs. http://t.co/T6h6xbPAyw

Giants offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz compared deflating footballs to doctoring baseballs:

Geoff Schwartz @geoffschwartz

So looks like deflating footballs is the equivalent of a pitcher doctoring a baseball. Only gets called out when ppl get pissed

NBC Charlotte chief meteorologist Brad Panovich used the catchy hashtag in addition to offering his expert opinion on how the weather impacts ball pressure:

Brad Panovich @wxbrad

Every 10° drop in temperature means about 1 psi drop in inflation. It was 52° at game time. Temperature not the issue. #DeflateGate

Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman noted he was hearing calls for Belichick to be suspended:

mike freeman @mikefreemanNFL

I'm hearing from numerous players on the Patriots. I have players saying Belichick should be suspended for the Super Bowl.

mike freeman @mikefreemanNFL

My bad…didn't mean players on the team. Meant heard from players around the league.

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:

Dave Zirin @EdgeofSports

I can't square "Bill Belichick evil genius" with "Bill Belichick loses two Super Bowls to 2x game MVP Eli Manning." #DeflateGate

Rotoworld's Patrick Daugherty was in the same boat to a degree:

Patrick Daugherty @RotoPat

12 days for everyone in the league to unearth their Patriots lunch money stories. Better or worse than last year's Richard Sherman talk?

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:

Robert Raiola, CPA @SportsTaxMan

So much for the theory that not much happens in the first week of the two week gap for #SuperBowl. #DeflateGate

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:

John Breech @johnbreech

This Tom Brady quote from 2011 is now slightly more interesting. #DeflateGate #Patriots http://t.co/uwlsZLib7N http://t.co/hVJFGGaOwO

Showtime host Jim Rome addressed the current upheaval, using Spygate as context:

Jim Rome @jimrome

Have to love the NFL saying they'll wrap up #DeflateGate in a few days. Because that will make it go away. Spygate still hasn't gone away.

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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