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Time for Patriots to Embrace Deflategate, Hate

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Patriots QB Brady holds up an underinflated football after the AFC title game. The Patriots won by a mere 38 points.Photo/USA Today Sports Images


What to do about Deflategate?

Simple.

It's time to own it.

Celebrate the hate.

Embrace the envy.

Confess to everything.

Debategate. Spygate. Trickery. Deceit. Deception. Controlling the schedule. Manipulating the grade of the playing field. Spiking the Gatorade. Sharpening the spikes. Drones over Rex Ryan's house. Dark arts. Remote-controlled footballs.

Cop to all of it.

The first casualty of war, and Debategate, is innocence.

Turns out, Tom Brady likes deflated footballs.

“When Gronk scores . . . he spikes the ball and he deflates the ball. I love that, because I like the deflated ball. But I feel bad for that football, because he puts everything he can into those spikes,” Brady told WEEI back in 2011.

My world is coming apart.

First, no Tooth Fairy. Then, no Santa Claus. [Kids, you did not hear that from me.] Now, we've got Brady saying three years ago he likes deflated footballs.

This lies in direct conflict, so it would seem, to what he said during his weekly appearance on WEEI's "Dennis and Callahan" Monday. Brady laughed out loud when asked about the allegations surrounding Deflategate, calling them "ridiculous."

"I think I've heard it all at this point," he said. "That's the last of my worries. I don't even respond to stuff like this," he added.

We've now learned Tommy spoke in 2011 on the same station with cheer about and reverence about how much he liked the deflated balls following all those Gronk spikes.

The duplicity of it all. For shame, Tommy. For shame.

That's all the evidence I need.

Not only should the Patriots be barred from the Super Bowl, they should be forced to play all their games on the road using over-inflated balls until the Jets win the AFC East. Or 2086. Whichever comes first.

The actual alleged details surrounding Deflategate quickly came into focus on Tuesday. We learned, reportedly, that the ball in question from Sunday's 45-7 victory lap was intercepted by Colts linebacker D'Qwell Jackson in the second quarter Sunday.

The ball then went to "a member of the Colts' equipment staff, who noticed the ball seemed underinflated and the notified" coach Chuck Pagano. The team GM was notified. He contacted NFL director of football operations Mike Kensil, who then communicated the information to the officials on the field at halftime.

So we have at least two members of the Colts' organization, or three if Pagano checked out the ball, who had their hands on the alleged deflated evidence in question. Unless that entire chain of possession was caught somewhere on tape, how are we to know that someone on the Colts did not deflate the ball themselves and then make the accusation?

Sounds crazy. Sure. About as loony has having a team owner driving through Carmel, Ind., while intoxicated, with $29,000 in cash, and prescription drugs in his car.

That break in chain of possession of the football/evidence, as Twitter follower Bryan Sergeant so brilliantly pointed out, is enough to raise reasonable doubt in court, if not enough to get the evidence at hand tossed.

[UPDATE: The NFL on Tuesday night announced that 11 of 12 balls measured were underinflated. Either there was a lot of handling going on, or someone has some serious explaining to do.]

Any semblance of objectivity surrounding judgment on the Patriots in this case was obliterated once Eric Mangini was hired by the Jets. None other than ESPN's Michael Wilbon, not sure why anyone give's a rat's ass or gets worked up over his opinion on this matter, said the Patriots should "forfeit" their Super Bowl spot if the Debategate are allegations are proven true.

Wilbon's thoughts are not unique. The Spygate Truthers have seen their effort, energy, and ranks swell 10 fold in the past 36 hours. The Spygate argument was on the verge of collapse with a potential Patriots Super Bowl XLIX victory. The NFL tin-foil hat crowd has been now gifted Deflategate to dwell upon for the next 500 years. Or until the Jets win the Super Bowl. Whichever comes first.

Time for a few facts and some common sense before we return to the stupidity. The so-called deflated ball thrown by Brady ended up being intercepted on a badly underthrown pass. Brady's pick in the second quarter Sunday needed more air on it, as it was underthrown to Rob Gronkowski at the goal line.

After the pick, and the removal of the allegedly-deflated ball from the game, the Patriots outscored the Colts 28-0. Much of New England's offense damage came courtesy of LeGarrette Blount, who steamrolled the Colts for 148 yards and three touchdowns. Blount could have done that carrying a bowling ball against Indianapolis' impotent defense.

[UPDATE: The fact that 11 of 12 balls tested were underinflated doesn't alter this fact, although that is going to mean little in the fallout of Wednesday's news. Bottom line, their balls were deflated Sunday. Today, the rest of New England's balls are deflated.]

The Patriots are presumed guilty until the end of time because they will never be proven innocent. [UPDATE: Or, in this case, because they were.] There's just enough fact in that narrative to make any and all ridiculous accusation or statement against them elevated to truth.

The latest blast of wacky grievances blasted across Sports Illustrated's website was brilliantly deconstructed by Boston.com's Eric Wilbur.

The SI story included one sentence about that zany "four-offensive lineman" set that soundly debunked its own premise.

"Technically, what Belichick suggested is legal."

It's only a matter of time, folks.

Why fight it? Neither Belichick nor Brady, in their media appearances since this story broke, have flat-out denied doing this. Brady literally laughed it off. Belichick grumbled about cooperating with the league before returning to his lair in the Death Star beneath Gillette Stadium.

The allegations, despite those non-denial denials, still remain dubious at best. Since Monday, we've all gotten advanced degrees in NFL rules about handling one's balls. And I haven't heard this much talk about "expanded gases" since I was in the eighth grade. Unless there's unedited CBS tape of Belichick drilling the ball on the sideline with a DeWalt - DCD780B, this issue will never be 100 percent settled.

[UPDATE: The NFL still doesn't know for sure how this happened, just that it did. My money is on Urban Meyer. Or perhaps, it wasthe weather.]

This is not necessarily a bad thing. Any doubt [UPDATE: In this case, guilt] is good for the Patriots, even if it's presumed they deflated game balls Sunday. Belichick has been provided with more than enough octane to fuel his team's requisite "us against the world" story line entering the Super Bowl.

The betting line on this game continues to hover around a pick-em. So-called neutral fans have softened in the belief that New England has no shot against Seattle. But in terms of being the "bad guys" in the lead-up to Super Bowl XLIX, the Patriots have that role locked down tighter than Darrelle Revis on T.Y. Hilton.

Millions will despise the Patriors to a greater degree than Michael Moore hates Chris Kyle, sit-ups, and vegetables.

The old axiom was "everyone loves a winner."

Now, at least when it comes to successful NFL teams or any American who makes $1 more than you do, the truism is "everyone is full of envy and jealousy when it comes to winners." Compound that shift in cultural sentiment with the fine from Spygate, Belichick's enigmatic personality, accusations ranging from forcing players to drink mystery Polynesian tea to employing an alleged murderer, Brady's beauty and brilliance, three Super Bowl trophies, six Super Bowl appearances, and nine AFC title games.

You will get some crazy, bats--t, hate.

Belichick pushes the limits and letter of the law often. He cheats for real. He also cheats, if you believe being smarter than the other guy is cheating. If he and the Patriots under-inflated the balls on Sunday, penalize them according to whatever the rules decree. If the punishment is too lenient, change the rules. It is incomprehensible to think that deflated balls, drones, or sneak-peeks at the giant outdoor TV at One Patriot Place, had anything to do with Sunday's 45-7 annihilation of the Colts.

Anyone who does has less credibility than this moron on Twitter:

[UPDATE: Looks like that moron was right.]

The John Harbaughs and Michael Rosenbergs of the world inhabit a universe where every rule must be followed - to their one-dimensional interpretation of it.

ESPN's Wilbon says the Patriots get no quarter due to their scurrilous past. Good luck trying to find anything on line in which Wilbon deems confessed criminal and current ESPN NFL analyst Ray Lewis beyond redemption. In 2013, Wilbon called allegations against Lewis using deer-antler extract a "lesser deal," if Lewis was allowed to play in the Super Bowl.

There must be a statute of limitation when it comes to character, standards, and consistency. Given enough time, you can find inconsistencies in the work of any media type ready to convict the Patriots of "ball deflation," and destroying the integrity of the NFL, based solely on the accusation.

Frankly, it's time to say "enough is enough" when it comes to bitching and moaning about this team and how it has "cheated" to earn its 14-year record of success.

When the Patriots have been caught cheating, they've been penalized according to the ever-evolving rules. If they haven't been caught, they haven't been cheating. Just like every other team that hasn't been caught.

If you can prove to me that video taping the Jets in 2007 helped Adam Vinatieri kick those field goals in the snow during the "Tuck Rule Game" in 2002, I will change my Twitter avatar to a photo of A-Rod.

Pardon the interruption, but the "Tuck Rule" call was correct and proper, as well.

With that in mind, it's time to stop worrying about the perceptions and prejudices of others. No one who has formed an opinion on Beli-cheat and the Patriots is going to be changing their mind soon.

Celebrate the hate. Embrace the envy. Hell, over-inflate your tires [but only if you're driving a heavy load in cold weather].

In case you haven't heard, the Patriots are on to Seattle. More accurately, they're on to Glendale. There's a Super Bowl on their schedule a week from Sunday. Their preparation, undoubtedly, is well underway.

And it has nothing to do with football inflation.

[UPDATE: That still hasn't changed, at least for the Patriots. The rest of us, not so much.]


The OBF column is written by award-winning journalist and Bay State native Bill Speros. Bill has reported for ESPN, CBSSports.Com, and was a sports/deputy sports editor at the Orlando Sentinel, Denver Post, and several other newspapers. Reach Bill on the OBF Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or at his
OBF email Address
. Thanks always for reading.

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