After spending four days in Mobile, Ala., for the Senior Bowl, I’m a bit cranky, kind of like an old man.
Seriously, folks, my belated reaction to all the hype is probably not going to endear myself to some. But let’s just keep it real here.
The Colts look like crybabies about this. I say that because former colleague Bob Kravitz broke the story after the game and cited NFL sources, but why would the NFL want this story to be public, especially before the Super Bowl? It doesn’t take a genius to figure out somebody from the Colts gave the story to Bob. I spent about 15 years on the road with him as a colleague. After midnight, with his story filed, he’s headed to the hotel bar or bed.
My first reaction in the Gillette Stadium press box? I believed it, based on the Patriots’ past SpyGate transgression. But the next reaction was it can’t explain how the visitors weren’t remotely competitive in such an important game.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen later reported 11 of the Patriots’ 12 footballs were under inflated, which gave them an advantage in the cold and rain. OK, punish them and take steps to ensure this can never happen again in any game. End of story. But, no, it drags on.
I’m glad at least one player, Colts tight end Dwayne Allen, reminded what the reality was for his team: The Patriots would have beaten the Colts with “soap for balls,” as he tweeted.
That gets lost in this, as Colts Nation has been abuzz on social media all week about the Patriots being cheaters and that they should be punished severely. I agree, punish the Patriots, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that the Colts lost by 38 points.
It would have been smarter to handle this directly with the league and not leak it out to the media. This is coming from a reporter who understands how much scoops make us look good. But seriously, if you’re the Colts, either owner Jim Irsay or general manager Ryan Grigson, wouldn’t you count on the integrity of the league to investigate and handle it properly? Then it’s linked more to the transgression, right?
And if the NFL ignores it, then you go public, well sort of, with a leak.
Instead, it came across like sour grapes from the team that got embarrassed. And now everybody is bad-mouthing the Patriots, which the Colts and other Patriots-haters get a kick out of, but it’s not really going to impact coach Bill Belichick’s team.
The Patriots are playing for an NFL championship on Feb. 1 at Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Ariz. And if they beat the defending champion Seattle Seahawks, they will lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy, be rewarded with gaudy rings, critics will mention DeflateGate as a negative, but the team will celebrate the accomplishment much to the disgust of many and anything else won’t matter to the victors.
You know what they say about the victors. To them go the spoils.
Do I believe Belichick saying he didn’t know anything? No. Do I buy quarterback Tom Brady basically saying the same thing? No.
That doesn’t matter, either. A rule was broken, regardless of who was responsible. The team should know better and can’t plead ignorance. Most in New England will believe Mr. Bill and Brady. Everybody else will snicker and scoff.
Fine them or take away a draft pick or whatever is just punishment. Fix the problem so the balls will be monitored differently in the future, and let’s get on with it.
The NFL released a statement while I was typing this that an independent DeflateGate investigation has been conducted, and is ongoing. Great. Let’s keep dragging this out. The footballs used in the first half were under inflated, the league said in a statement. The Patriots led 17-7 at halftime. The footballs used in the second half were up to specification. The Patriots outscored the Colts 28-0 in the second half.
So we’ll wait longer on the league to hand out some form of punishment.
Meanwhile back in Indianapolis, the Colts should set their minds to fixing their problems. They should be thinking more about getting players who will be tougher in these big games.
Tough teams don’t get blown out in AFC Championship Games. They might lose, but they do so putting up a fight.
We didn’t see that. And that’s what sticks with most of us as we move on from this debacle.
It seems like the only way the Colts annoyed the Patriots was with DeflateGate. If that makes someone happy somewhere, to stick it to those guys, so be it. Enjoy.
But wouldn’t it be better, and mean more, to beat those guys on the field? And not just any field but on their home field?
Maybe some day that will happen. They can meet again in Foxborough, Mass., all the footballs will be the legal weight, and the Colts will show how far they’ve come by matching the Patriots’ toughness and take them down.
Whether or not that happens, we’ll unfortunately remember DeflateGate, because of the public circus it has created for the media. Many will remember it more than how the Colts played, which should be more deflating for Colts fans than how much any football weighed.
OK, I’m done weighing in on this. We can only hope the NFL will do the same as soon as possible.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.