As you've surely heard by now, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady answered questions from a rabid media throng Thursday about the never-ending saga embedded in our mouths and minds, a.k.a. Deflategate.
Brady said he had "no knowledge of anything" to do with the footballs that the NFL may have found to be under-inflated during the AFC Championship game against the Colts.
It was as complete a denial as his coach offered up just hours earlier.
Oh, but the nation outside of New England isn't buying it. Not. One. Bit.
Who believes Belichick and Brady? New England. That's it. pic.twitter.com/Mp3mtpN5zz— SportsNation (@SportsNation) January 23, 2015
Brady has been getting bashed early and often, from coast to coast, by fans, media, entertainers, pundits, and a surprising list of former players.
Shortly after Brady wrapped up his extended Q&A session at Gillette, millions of TV viewers around the world saw former Jets and Jags QB and current ESPN analyst Mark Brunelle's near-tearful no-love review of the Brady's performance at the podium.
"I did not believe what Tom had to say,” Brunell said with his voice cracking slightly on ESPN. "Those balls were deflated. Someone had to do it and I don’t believe there’s an equipment manager in the NFL that would on his own initiative deflate a ball without the starting quarterback’s approval. I just didn't believe what Tom Brady had to say. That was a tough one to swallow."
Former Dallas Cowboy Troy Aikman -- who like Brady quarterbacked his team to three Super Bowl victories -- squarely pointed a finger at the Patriots QB in the Deflategate blame game.
"It's obvious that Tom Brady had something to do with this," Aikman said on sports radio 1310 AM in Dallas. "I know going back to when I played, they've loosened up the rules in terms of what each team is able to do with the footballs coming into the game. Used to, the home team provided all the balls. And now, each team brings their footballs the way they like them and break 'em in. Used to you couldn't break them in. So for the balls to be deflated, that doesn't happen unless the quarterback wants that to happen, I can assure you of that. Now the question becomes did Bill Belichick know about it?"
Aikman went on to say the Patriots penalty should be harsher than Bountygate, where Saints coach Sean Payton was suspended for a year.
"Now twice, under Bill Belichick and possibly a third time, they've cheated and given themselves an advantage," Aikman said. "To me, the punishment for the Patriots and/or Bill Belichick has to be more severe than what the punishment was for the New Orleans Saints."
Former New Orleans QB Bobby Hebert thinks Brady was telling "a half truth."
"I don’t think Tom Brady told the ball boys what to do with the balls that day, but he’s been there so long, they know how he likes them," Hebert said. "... I don’t know who’s going to fall on the sword, but whoever handles those balls knows exactly how Brady likes those balls."
A couple of Steelers that Brady has beaten like rented mules over the past decade chimed in.
Former Pittsburgh running back and ESPN analyst Jerome Bettis took his best shot at Brady after the presser.
"I’m so disappointed because I thought this was a perfect opportunity for Tom Brady to go and say, ‘You know what? I made a mistake. I blew it. It’s on me. I’ll take the blame here, and this will go away.’ He didn't do that," Bettis said. "I’m disappointed in you Tom Brady."
Former Giants QB Jesse Palmer, of "The Bachelor" fame isn't believing Brady.
"I wouldn't believe that," Palmer said on Good Morning America on Brady not noticing the balls fell below the 12.5 required minimum PSI. "Quarterbacks, again, they're so particular about the footballs they throw in these football games. It's kind of like your Starbucks order. Some quarterbacks like footballs that are worn in. Some like them inflated. Some like them deflated."
And add Phil Simms -- and his son Chris -- to the list of players who don't buy Brady's story.
In addition to making a too-late claim that the Patriots spied on the Steelers offense back in the day, former Pittsburgh wide receiver Hines Ward told NBC's Late Night with Seth Meyers on Thursday night that Brady & Co. cheated.
"No matter how you want to spin it, cheating is cheating," Hines told Meyers. "And for the Patriots, they got caught. Splashback they call it right [laughing]."
On Wednesday's Today Show, Ward suggested that the only people who probably knew about the under-inflated footballs were "Tom Brady and the ball boy."
Brady likes his footballs at 12.5. How does it get below 13.5? Which is what NFL specs are.hmmmmmmm— shannon sharpe (@ShannonSharpe) January 22, 2015
And the Patriots weren't getting any sympathy from the Ravens -- who were defeated by the Pats in Foxborough during the playoffs and reportedly may have tipped off the Colts on the ball deflation.
Baltimore defensive end Chris Canty thinks this is just the Patriots being the Patriots.
"The Patriots are habitual line-steppers," Canty said on NBCSN. "If the allegations are true, then you are talking about attacking the integrity of our game and I have an issue with that.
"What I’m going to say about the deflating of the balls, to me there is no difference than performance-enhancing drugs. You are cheating at that point. You are getting a competitive advantage outside of the rule book and there has to be some sort of consequences for that."
Former Eagles safety and ESPN analyst Brian Dawkins mocked the scandal and added his own theory.
"I guess Casper did it," Dawkins said on ESPN's NFL Live Thursday.
And a couple of old-time football greats are lining up to take down Tom as well.
"I’m a great fan of Tom Brady, but let me say this, when I played, I controlled the ball before the game," Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton told Fox News Channel's Your World with Neil Cavuto. "The equipment guy would rub the ball down, I would say, 'You need to rub the ball down more that’s not enough.' We didn't do anything about the pressure of the ball, but today the quarterback looks at the pressure of the ball, grips the ball, he’s in control of the ball.
"Tom Brady knows exactly what was done to the ball or what wasn't done with the ball as every other quarterback in the National Football League is. I thought in the press conference he was very uncomfortable because he knows that he knows. And is it a stupid rule? I don’t know if it’s a stupid rule. It’s a rule and he should follow the rules, but they broke the rules."
Former Oakland Raider's Hall of Fame coach John Madden said the quarterback is the logical person behind any changes in football air pressure.
"That would have to be driven by the quarterback," Madden told The Sports Xchange. "That's something that wouldn't be driven by a coach or just the equipment guy. Nobody, not even the head coach, would do anything to the football unilaterally, such as adjust the amount of pressure in a ball, without the quarterback not knowing. It would have to be the quarterback's idea."
As you might expect, many in the New York media expressed disbelief in Brady's denial of any wrongdoing as evidenced by the tabloid covers posted earler.
Steve Serby of the New York Post kicks things off with "Don't believe pretty boy Brady: Someone is lying."
The piling on continued.
"But if the league finds evidence that Brady didn't tell the truth here, and that he did cut a corner even Belichick wouldn't cut, Goodell needs to make Jimmy Garoppolo a starting quarterback a week from Sunday," said Ian O'Connor, ESPNNewYork.com columnist.
"Tom Brady talking fair play after what happened in Super Bowls he played in, is a little ridiculous," Mike Francesa said on his radio show Thursday. "... Not one time did either Brady or Belichick say, 'You know what, this casts us in a bad light, our organization needs to find out what happened, we’re going to get to the bottom of this.' … not one time did you hear them saying anything about that."
Famed New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica puts his two cents in with: "Tom Brady's brass balls: They might be 'perfect,' but is his story?" and "Did Patriots' glamour-boy quarterback Tom Brady go rogue to spark DeflateGate?"
Even The New Yorker got into the act but they put up a beautifully written and thoughtful piece entitled The Humiliation of Tom Brady, that doesn't take a cheap whack at No. 12.5.
Oh, and the Twitterstagrams kept a comin', firing around the Internets and having their way with the embattled Brady:
Tom Brady's Press Conference pic.twitter.com/KNetZLYXwq— NFL Memes (@NFL_Memes) January 22, 2015
"Tom, I think what we're trying to say is we don't believe you but we still like you and think you're handsome"— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) January 22, 2015
Tom Brady really went ISIS? "Go ahead and cheat, fellas. As long as no one loses a head, we're good."— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) January 22, 2015
Tom Brady steps up to the podium with pine tar all over his neck.— Brett Anderson (@BAnderson_30) January 22, 2015
The equipment guy is either gonna get fired or drive a new land rover.— Bob Kravitz (@bkravitz) January 22, 2015
How can Brady say he likes the ball at 12.5 if he also says he can't tell the difference?— trey wingo (@wingoz) January 22, 2015
We're about 2 days away from a Patriots ballboy taking the fall -- and suddenly dating one of Giselle's model friends.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) January 22, 2015
And possibly the unkindest cut of all:
Did Tom Brady pull his clothes out of a trash can on the way into this press conference?— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) January 22, 2015
OK, enough of this nonsense. Let's grab a goddamn snack: