Hugh Millen Drops A Bomb. No One Reacts.

On the Dennis and Callahan show this morning they had former Patriots quarterback Hugh Millen on as a guest to talk about the Super Bowl matchup, as Millen is working in the Seattle as an analyst of the Seahawks and Washington Huskies.

While they were discussing the inflation of the footballs, Millen dropped that he played for a coach with two Super Bowl wins who put together a huge scheme to install speakers inside the helmets of the offensive linemen so they could be given instructions remotely. He said they had it in place and working.

I played for a team, the coach has two Super Bowl wins, and there was an elaborate scheme to put speakers into the offensive lineman’s ears, and they had these custom made speakers, it was a covert operation, they would install it in a back room in the locker room on the road and what have you, and they did that week after week and presumably in the Super Bowl.

He also said the same team had offensive linemen who were caught with a substance on their jerseys and that the coach just shrugged when they were caught.

Millen declined to actually name the coach, but he played for Mike Shanahan in Denver in 1995. Three of Shanahan’s linemen were caught with Vaseline on their jerseys during a 1998 playoff game against the Chiefs.

Millen did also have a brief stint with the Jimmy Johnson-coached Cowboys, (the Patriots traded him there following the 1993 season) so it’s possible, he was referring to Johnson, but Gerry Callahan made a “beedy eyes” reference to Shanahan and it seemed like Millen went along with it.

We know that the Broncos were also caught cheating the salary cap those Super Bowl seasons. So here are two confirmed and one alleged (very serious) cheating incidents that the media and public will never pay attention to.

Can you imagine the uproar if any of these incidents happened with the Patriots? We’re on week two of the world going insane over allegations that the footballs the Patriots used were a tick under regulation inflation.

WEEI Audio – Former Patriot Hugh Millen on deflating footballs and the Seahawks 1-29-15

Sports Media Musings: The NFL Is Insane; 3 Best Deflategate Pieces To Date

I woke up to a flat tire this morning, which was just great! So, I walked over to the local Dunkin’ Donuts (because I can’t afford to drop four dollars on Starbucks), and thought about a few things as I combed through my daily reads on my phone. Chief among these thoughts was whether or not Roger Goodell enacted the some form of the Patriot Act without anyone noticing? Was there a press release? Or, in reality, is the inconsistent way in which he operates just omnipotence masked by hilarious levels of incompetence?

If you’re on the fence about the idea, just see below:

The league was monitoring Marshawn Lynch’s responsibility to play nice with the media, I guess, because #MediaDay is an important event for the NFL (and its integrity, of course, because integrity is like the bloodline of professional American sports and stuff!). And Marshawn Lynch is not bigger than #MediaDay; despite the fact that, in actuality, he kind of is, because #MediaDay is horrible and mostly stupid.

I mean, the whole point of #MediaDay is so the wacky, fish-out-of-the-water media can interact with players. These idiots serve as tiny vessels that, through slap-stick comedy akin to “Dumb and Dumber To” (not a compliment), display the human side of robots like Kam Chancelor and Bill Belichick.

The end game works out well for nearly every party involved. The league gets stupid Buzzfeed articles (THE 27 CRAZIEST QUESTIONS ASKED AT #MEDIADAY!!!) that purportedly help build up excitement for the average non-football fan who watches the Super Bowl; the players get to field questions that don’t start with “Talk about” (e.g. instead of “Talk about that play where” … the wonky media outlets ask Jonas Gray about his favorite Power Ranger growing up or something); and the media gets what it covets most – content!! – all while the Jimmy Olsens out there still maintain their PROFESSIONALISM while cackling at the idea of Rob Gronkowski singing Katy Perry songs, like the rest of us.

All very serious stuff.

So, yeah, MONITORING. Totally necessary here. Fucking insane.

***

In other (non) news, Deflategate – finally, almost mercifully — took a day off yesterday. Like most, I’ve consumed way too much coverage of this ongoing topic. And despite the overblown hysteria that has surrounded each and every development, without question, it has been an interesting story from several vantage points.

So, with no clear advances in the story on the horizon, I picked out what I felt have been the three best pieces from this entire fiasco thus far. These columns don’t necessarily outline any resolution, but in a vacuum, they offer commentary about the story and the current state of sports (and the media who covers it):

“The Worst Question in Sports: What We Talk About When We Say ‘Talk About’” by Bryan Curtis

Ever wonder why reporters ask the same benign questions? Yeah, me too. And Curtis, who is excellent, writes a phenomenal piece about an oldie but a goodie: the “Talk About” question (that’s not really a question).

Pull Quote:

“This is perhaps the only defensible Talk About: The one that puts the athlete or coach at ease by showing him you’re interested in what he has to say.”

 “Bill Belichick doubles down on Patriots’ innocence in deflate-gate, dares NFL to prove him wrong” by Dan Wetzel

For my money, Wetzel paints a setting better than anyone else in sports journalism. This piece, published hours after Bill Belichick’s defiant press conference last Saturday, does exactly that:

Pull Quote:

“Whether or not that’s enough to explain deflate-gate away for you, at least try to appreciate the situation:

This was straight Original Gangster stuff by Belichick, a full-on punch to the face of the league office he has long despised and believes turns nearly every molehill into a mountain either because of general football incompetence or to drive television ratings.”

“Deflategate: Some Perspective, Please?” by Don Banks

Every time this story jumps the shark – and I’ve counted at least four separate occasions that this has happened – go back and read this piece on SI from Banks. It was published just hours before Bill Belichick went AP Physics on us.

Pull Quote:

“I find it deflating that the NFL rule book has grown so complex and obtuse that it makes the U.S. tax code look like light summer reading.

Remember when the league’s biggest problem was mainly that the Super Bowl was overhyped and always sucked? Ah, the good old days.”

***

That’s that. As always, thanks for reading. More to come. @Hadfield__.

Sports Media Musings: Bob Kraft Lectured the Media, NFL For Faulty Reporting; Prompts More Hawt Sports Takes

There was a moment, Monday afternoon, when the media collectively shrugged.

“I don’t know what to believe anymore,” conceded Michael Felger, host of the popular afternoon sports radio program “Felger & Mazz.” Ben Volin, who has penned stories with screeching headlines like “Bill Belichick throws Tom Brady under the bus” for the Boston Globe, sat alongside Felger, with co-host Tony Massarotti and update guy Marc Bertrand, and admitted that he didn’t even trust his own previous stories/sources.

(Glad he’s here!)

Never has the take “No One Knows Anything” seemed so genius.

This was all after the Jay Glazer story changed the Deflategate narrative, yet again, with news that the NFL had identified a “person of interest” and that it had obtained some sort of corresponding video evidence. By now, you know how the rest of this debacle unfolds: Robert Kraft, the suddenly embattled Patriots owner who the collective media demanded speak – that guy? – yeah, he spoke.

Kraft lit the NFL and the media who covers it on fire. 700 foot flames of glory. It was the HAWT SPORTS TAKE that the likes of whom he lectured wish they could concoct themselves. And we, the fans, the onlookers, the ones who DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW THIS ALL WORKS!, gathered around and enjoyed delicious smores.

“…In direct contrast to the public discourse which has been driven by media leaks, as opposed to actual data and facts. Because of this, many jump to conclusions and made strong accusations against our coach, quarterback and staff, questioning the integrity of all involved.

If the Wells investigation is not able to definitively determine that our organization tampered with the air pressure in the footballs, I would expect and hope that the league would apologize to our entire team, and in particular Coach Belichick and Tom Brady for what they’€™ve had to endure this past week.

I’m disappointed in the way this entire matter has been handled, and reported upon. We expect hard facts, as opposed to circumstantial leaked evidence to draw the conclusion of this investigation.”

Shortly after, more reports leaked; this time, revealing that the aforementioned video evidence was of an equipment manager taking the game balls into a bathroom … for all of 90 seconds.

That’s where we are. But, of course, Kraft’s lecture only prompted more awful hawt sport takes.

Let’s start where this whole mess began, with Bob Kravitz:

“He wants an apology. That’s right, Patriots owner Robert Kraft wants an apology if the NFL’s investigation turns up nothing untoward in what has become to be known internationally as Deflategate. That’s precious. Truly, it is.”

I love when sports scribes write like they’re talking to infants. WHO’S A SILLY LITTLE OWNER, YOU ARE. YESSS, YOU ARE.

Let me say this: Whatever happens at the end of this investigation, nobody owes the Patriots or Kraft or the ball boys an apology. The league simply is doing what it’s supposed to do, investigating claims that the Patriots doctored their footballs in a way that circumvented league rules.

Yes, the league completely handled this the right way, protecting the INTEGRITY of the GAME. So what if they leaked reports that helped shape a pre-disposed outcome on the eve of the Super Bowl? No matter! No crying over spilled integrity.

Personally, I have no skin in the game.

Except for a few more TV and radio appearances; maybe a book.

When you get into journalism, you give up your fan card.

How tone-deaf are you, Bob? Really, we’re going over the pillars of sports journalism right now? Because this has been a banner week for modern-day journalism, ethics, and due process. Tool.

Speaking of aimless conjecture, drivel, and nonsense, we already discussed Dan Shaughnessy’s beautiful disaster yesterday, in which he claimed the Patriots “already lost the game that matters,” But Dan doubled down in today’s edition of the Globe.

If the Patriots are champions and did everything by the book, they have been unfairly targeted and characterized.

Characterized by whom? The lack of self-accountability here is astonishing. But go on ….

Sorry, Patriots fans, but what was true Thursday is true today. Locally, this could wind up being the favorite Patriot team of all time, but nationally their legacy is tarnished

So, the Belichick press conference on Saturday and Robert Kraft diatribe changed nothing? Really? OK. While we’re here, since the media loves to play the “IF-THEN” game, let’s play too: Presuming Kraft wouldn’t double down last night without some certainty that the NFL doesn’t have enough to overcome the burden of proof, then the media’s legacy is forever tarnished.

(To reiterate from yesterday: Shank telling us what the Patriots future legacy will hold is incredible. How will we remember Deflategate tomorrow is uncertain, never mind in 2022.)

But there’s more! Tony Massarotti, writing for CBS Sports, TAKE IT AWAY:

Let’s be honest, folks: a year from now, maybe two, maybe four … there will be another accusation. With Belichick, there always is.

Is there? Or is this the “The Scarlet Letter” and some twisted, hybrid version of Sports McCarthyism?

***

Let me pose the question to you guys, the readers: When it’s all said and done, do you think that Deflategate will have a lasting impact on the Patriots legacy or in the way in which the contemporary media covers sports?

More to come. @Hadfield__.

Sports Media Musings: Dan Shaughnessy’s Beautiful Disaster Arrived Last Week, And It’s Glorious

Oh, hey there. So, it has been a while since I’ve written in this space, hasn’t it? Did I miss anything? Deflated balls, you say? OK. Well, then, I suppose now is as good as time as ever to BLOG IT UP on all things media and sports and the DID YOU ORDER THE CODE RED????? hysteria that has consumed the Super Bowl coverage up until this point.

Programming alert: Wait a minute, no one wants to read any more coverage of this wildly overblown scandal?

OK, fair. Instead, let’s have some fun with it. Where should we look? (THINKING) How about Dan Shaughnessy? Has he weighed in yet? Oh, he wrote a column that can only be described as glorious for longtime readers of BSMW.? This should be fun.

But before we start, it should be stated that Shaughnessy is hardly the only “damage is already done” guy in town. Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti, among others, have already managed to cast aspersions on Bill Belichick and the entire Patriots organization, proclaiming “IT’S OVER!”

Amazing. This is all happening, despite the fact that nothing’s officially been charged. Of course, when the Globe’s appointed “voice of the fan” puts down the tomato cans for a minute to make such denouncements, then we might as well start planning the funeral.

RIP Legacy. I’ll always wonder what could’ve been. Take it away, Shank:

“We haven’t even gotten to Arizona yet and the mission is already lost.”

Oh?

… Well, then: EVACUATE.

“Mike Wilbon of ESPN is calling for the Patriots to vacate the Super Bowl, Calipari-style.”

Which, given that the NFL has still yet to officially charge the Patriots with any wrongdoing, seemed like a totally reasonable Hawt Sports Take that was criticized by absolutely no one, right?

“… the most important thing — the Patriot legacy — is lost.”

A few things here: First, and this is a common theme, is that (again) no charges have been made. Nothing. No matter. BURN THE LEGACY.

Secondly, this may be the most prosperous statement ever written in the history of print publication. A legacy is a hackneyed term that refers to an “enduring image” of an entity. Naturally, this forms over time; yet, amazingly, Shank is letting you know how we’re going to discuss the Patriots in 2022 today. Moreover, that Deflategate, an ongoing story with no clear resolution, will DOMINATE any talks of championships and GLORY and happiness in the future. He is definitive. Which is so incredible.

Go on, how will this impact us, the fans, Dan?

“The Patriots and their fans will never win the “best ever” argument.”

Awwww! We’ll never win a completely subjective argument now??? Sad face ;-(

“Everything is tainted.”

Yet, nothing has been charged? So, how could this be?! I must know.

“Footballs (reportedly) have been doctored …”

Parenthetical salient point! (Dually noted!)

“… headlines have been written, and opinions have been formed.”

This is coming from the same guy who made a name for himself writing about a fictional curse. Methinks, since curses aren’t real, that most of his work around the subject was, you know, OPINION. And once the “curse” was broken, those OPINIONS changed.

In short, “opinions have been formed” is never a good argument. Never mind that lesson, though; because, if the Patriots are exonerated, the comedic mileage out of this entire column could have a longer-lasting legacy than Deflategate itself.

… And, suddenly, this piece is hilarious. Regardless, tell me more (about your opinions!).

 “Locally, the Patriots are revered. Nationally, they are loathed and branded as cheaters, and once again they have handed the hammer to their legion of enemies.”

Translation: You love the Patriots, people of New England, because of your insular, small-minded viewpoints. But, oh boy, lemme just tell you something! If you could just see what kind of talk is going on Out There, you’d change your tune. Mark Brunell’s spilled TEARS OF ANGER over this. And Wilbon??? It’s worth repeating that he wants to kick you out of the big game all together!

“We still don’t know where “Deflategate” lands. The NFL has yet to disclose its findings and announce penalties (if any) against the Patriots.”

This just feels like it should be mentioned before the fifth paragraph of this missive. Moving along.

“But the ballgame that matters is over.”

It is?

“And the Patriots have lost.”

NOOOOOOOOOOO.

Quick aside: we managed to find exclusive deleted prose from this Pulitzer shoe-in, straight from the cutting room floor over in the Globe offices. Be excited:

“You may think Wilbon, or Brunell, or Ray Lewis, or Troy Aikman are being unreasonable. Maybe you feel their suggested punishments are far too extreme. But do me a favor, will ya? Listen to “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica on repeat until the Super Bowl.

I’m serious. Listen to it when you wake up, and then as you’re falling asleep. Listen to the classic hit in the shower, as you brush your teeth, and during your commute. Don’t talk during dinner, instead listen to the song again while eating (that is, if you can hold your dinner down).

And when you think you’ve had enough … then listen some more.

As you start to understand, let James Hetfield’s words take affect: Never cared for what they say/ Never cared for games they play/ Never cared for what they do/ Never cared for what they know.

Feel the hopelessness. Let it sink in. Then think about what the Patriots (reportedly!) have done. Now look in the mirror. Face yourself, your inner demons. Watch your face morph into sad despair (AGAIN). Why is this happening?

It’s simple: Because you can’t rig the real game – no, peasants, not that whole Super Bowl thing — the game of sports debates about legacies. That’s truth.

And nothing else matters. Fin.

 “At this hour, even if the Patriots are cleared of wrongdoing, they are the modern-day sports equivalent of Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Labor, Ray Donovan, who asked, “Where do I go to get my reputation back?’’ after he was declared not guilty in a corruption case.”

It’s exactly like that!

“There doesn’t seem to be much dispute that footballs used by the Patriots in Sunday’s AFC Championship were doctored. By somebody.”

Except for the Bill Belichick press conference that took place a day after you published this column. But that doesn’t count, because this came first, and it had an OPINION and a HEADLINE. Both of which were formed. Too little, too late.

“The Patriots could beat the Colts in a game played with Wiffle Balls, bowling balls, or medicine balls.”

You know what? I’ve heard this point made before, and you’re completely right, so what’s the big deal?

“If you walk into your local 7-Eleven and see the back page of the New York Post screaming, “CHEATERS,’’ you cannot make it all go away by claiming jealousy.”

OH NO, THE HEADLINES again! I almost forgot. And the opinions too – shit, Dan! — THEY HAVE FORMED.

To be completely fair, I know that whenever I need research to debate who the greatest of all time is, I immediately run to the New York Post archives for ammunition and insight. Who doesn’t? Fine journos, over there at the NYP!

And hey, on the plus side, at least Shank’s not being condescending about this.

“How does the legion of Patriot toadies defend this?”

Scratch that. VOICE OF THE FAN, everyone!

“Belichick has already said he did not know anything about the deflated balls until he was told about them Monday. Could this possibly be true?”

It’s possible, yes.

“The next 48 hours will be interesting.”

+1,000 for Dan. Nailed this. All the way.

“By any measure, this is a colossal embarrassment for Kraft.”

Are there measurements for embarrassment?

“He loves the journey and the Klieg lights, but now his franchise has been tainted again. It matters greatly to the Patriots’ image-obsessed owner.”

Let’s stop here, because I love this. To review, Shank spends hundreds of words on how important Deflategate is, not just in the here and now, but also in the future. The team’s legacy is destroyed – NOTHING YOU DO FROM NOW ON MATTERS — then takes a pot-shot at Bob Kraft for caring about the situation and his organization’s image. Like Oh, THE AUDACITY. He cares what the entire world thinks of him. He’s so superficial.

Dan, this whole thing – literally the entire column – is about caring what other people think of the Patriots. And that, as fans, we don’t get the hatred that exists outside our bubble; that the important thing here – one’s LEGACY — is formed on OPINIONS. And then, you wag your finger at Kraft for being “image obsessed.”

***

More to come. Happy Super Bowl week everyone.

@Hadfield__.

Media’s Legacy Is Forever Tarnished

Doesn’t anyone want to talk football? – Bill Parcells.

Apparently not this week, Bill. Most people would seemingly rather speculate on a topic in which not one single confirmable fact has been released.

They’d rather use unconfirmed and unsubstantiated reports as a means to declare the reign of the greatest head coach and quarterback combination of all time a total sham.

They’d rather rush to judgment, declaring the parties GUILTY without having any idea what really happened.

They’d rather mock the efforts of actual explanation instead of trying to understand the possibilities.

When they get any pushback, they hide behind the “covering the story” explanation.

Have you ever seen a more condescending Tweet than that? “Covering it?” I had to respond.

I’m blown away by the idea that these people think that what is going on right now is simply the media “covering” a story.

Consider. In a column published last Thursday, which was entitled Arrogance demands consequences, Jackie MacMullan used the following phrases to describe Bill Belichick.

  • “arrogance.”
  • “incredibly audacious, stupid and paranoid”
  • “ludicrous”
  • “forever forfeited the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his own integrity”
  • [NFL] “should lay the hammer down.”
  • “he should be suspended for the Super Bowl.”
  • “about the integrity of the sport and the arrogance of a football coach who, if guilty, will have once again shown that he thinks he is bigger than the game”
  • “the win will be declared a tainted one by many. The noise will continue, and the chants of “Beli-cheat” will endure.”
  • “not just his legacy that will be stained”

Keep in mind, at this point, the only thing that had surfaced was rumors, a report from Chris Mortensen which had still not been confirmed by anyone, and is in fact being countered in some circles.

As many times as MacMullan stated “if” in the column, it was also clear that not for a second did she doubt that Belichick was guilty.

On the national level you get articles like from Mike Freeman – Is the NFL Going to Let Brady and Belichick Play It for a Fool? written the same day as the MacMullan column.

Here are some clips from that:

  • No one believes any of this except Patriots fans. No one. It’s a joke. It’s worse. It smells like a cover-up. 
  • This was a chance for Brady to come clean. Instead, he pulled a Lance Armstrong.
  • Not a single, objective soul believes them.
  • The Patriots just aren’t believable, and for that reason they deserve the same type of suspension the New Orleans Saints received post-Bountygate. Because if you believe the Patriots, the footballs deflated themselves or some poor ball boy or equipment person did this on their own. Both things are total science fiction.
  • What the Patriots did was sleazy. No, it doesn’t compare to football players abusing women or other malfeasance, but it does compare to one of the league’s most infamous cases, Bountygate.  For that reason, the NFL needs to suspend Belichick for a season, the way Sean Payton was, and Brady for half a season.
  • Those spy cameras didn’t turn on themselves, and the footballs didn’t deflate themselves.
  • The punishment needs to be harsh and swift because there’s a lot at stake here. There is plenty of evidence for the NFL to act now. Those suspensions should begin immediately. Yes, for the Super Bowl.

Is there any going back from a piece like that?

No. This whole thing has been disgusting from the get-go. We still don’t have any facts that have been confirmed, but the scientific analysis of what could’ve happened, as well as the whisper mill have turned the situation much more into the Patriots favor over the last couple days.

Jets connection appearing in Deflategate probe – Tom E Curran

Did NFL run sting operation on Patriots to trigger deflate-gate? – Dan Wetzel

Mike Tanier’s Monday Morning Hangover: Caught Up, Pumped Up for Super Bowl XLIX

There’s more, here and there, while we still can’t say what actually happened, what we can say is that once again, the media completely embarrassed themselves in trying to rush to judgment.

College All-Stars From A Pats Perspective

We’ll have more on the media coverage of the Patriots a bit later, but for now, a quick detour onto some actual football talk.

By Chris Warner.

After checking out three college All-Star games over the past three weekends, we’re reviewing some players who may fit in at Foxboro. Because what else is there to write about this week?

Except basic physics, I mean. (Hat-tip to Matt Chatham – @chatham58 )

One reminder about our at-times-disheveled notes below: Kentucky pass-rusher Za’Darius Smith and Auburn tight end C. J. Uzomah both made the Senior Bowl, but they are written up below for their previous appearances.

[Read more…]

Understanding Belichick (Or Not, Really)

So, at what point did you start believing this deflated football controversy? Were you home from an early Monday morning walk, expecting an easy MLK Day full of NFL highlights and entertaining Internet memes featuring various Patriots beating dead horses in Colts uniforms? Did you see the telltale question mark on the sports ticker, something like, “Pats Under Investigation?” when you first felt the elation of their AFC conquest sag a bit?

Did you not want to believe it? Do you yet?

Coach Bill Belichick’s subsequent meeting with the press offered no reassurance. He bookended answers with “We’ll do whatever the league asks us to do,” giving two separate “The first I heard of it was this morning,” responses. Nary a straightforward denial among them.

He did it. Of course he did. Because Bill Belichick – like most NFL coaches, to an extreme – is different from you and me.

Some with only a cursory understanding of these topics would say that Belichick ignores the rules. On the contrary, he obsesses over them. Think about his most consistent teacher over the years, his father. The man played professional football in 1941. Can you imagine the stories he could tell? Can you imagine what was thought of as “legal” for the 1940s Detroit Lions? Back then, considering the lack of protection, “helmet-to-helmet” resembled a head butt. Water breaks were for the weak. Just a completely different mindset of what was considered fair.

The younger Belichick knows the rules so well that he ensured quarterback/living B.C. statue Doug Flutie’s final play was a history-making drop kick for an extra point back in January 2006. At the time, very few knew whether a drop kick was still legal. Hell, not a lot of people knew what a drop kick was. Flutie became the first player to score a point by that method since Scooter McLean kicked for the Bears’ championship win in – surprise – 1941. (A fact Belichick knew, by the way: just read his post-game interview here.)

Imagine an SAT-type test involving NFL rules. Some multiple choice, some true/false, a couple of essays (haven’t taken the SAT in about 30 years, so apologies if it’s completely different now). He’d come out doing pretty well, right? Now imagine Roger Goodell taking the same test. Unless there’s a section on what cocktails to serve while sitting at the club waiting for the staff to service an owner’s yacht, hard to say ol’ Rog nails it.

That’s Belichick. He knows more than you. He knows he knows more than you. It seems he wants people to just leave him alone and let him do what he has been groomed to do since he watched game film with his dad as boy: to try to understand and prepare that much better than his opponent. And, in a sense, the rules makers and enforcers have become his opponents, too.

I mean, press conferences must feel like agony for this guy. The same questions, over and over, to people who don’t understand or have failed to put in the work to understand the game on the same level. At times, especially with the out-of-town media who show up week-to-week, it’s got to seem like he’s trying to explain Memento to someone who started watching near the end. It’s why, when he gets a question with specific historical context, he puts on his metaphorical suspenders and lectures about the history of the great game of football. It’s why, except at outdoor practices, he rarely sees sunlight during the season.

He wouldn’t have it any other way. His work is his fun. He’s not like you and me.

Make no mistake; these don’t qualify as excuses, just potential reasons. Belichick cheated. He knew the proper inflation for footballs, and – after watching his team put the ball on the ground three times the week before – he decided to soften the spheroids to make them easier to hold during a driving rainstorm.

“But you don’t know that,” you are saying. “You weren’t there. Maybe he knew nothing about it.” Do you actually believe Bill Belichick knew nothing about 11 footballs inflated two pounds less than required? Come on. You have to give him more credit than that.

So now fans must either turn a blind eye or, as WEEI.com’s Jerry Thornton does well in this piece regarding Eli Manning’s ball ritual (yup, sticking with that phrase), start playing the “everyone does it” card. It’s a strong card to play here: more and more examples have arisen of doctoring footballs, including a jocular on-air exchange between announcers Phil Simms and Jim Nantz regarding Aaron Rodgers’ preference for overinflated footballs and a piece on Super Bowl winner Brad Johnson having footballs doctored before the big game vs. Oakland.

(On that last one: Raiders fans get all up in arms over the Tuck Rule – an actual, albeit silly, rule – but they don’t go totally bat-guano over this? Pick your battles, Oakland fans!)

I can’t argue against the accusations of rampant hypocrisy in the NFL. Linebacker Ray Lewis used a banned substance to help him recover from a triceps injury during Baltimore’s championship run. The Seahawks had several players suspended due to PED use leading up to last year’s Super Bowl season. Were they cheating? Sure seems like it. Do we care? Not much, apparently.

Why should we? Goodell didn’t seem to care about taping defensive signals until he heard numerous complaints. He didn’t seem to care about brain injuries until it became a money issue via lawsuit. He didn’t seem to care about domestic abuse until video of a violent assault made its way onto the Internet for all to see. He made up punishments as he went along. Now he’ll have to do the same.

I’ll skip the joke about inflating the balls of NFL owners and head straight for the obvious: this was not an issue Goodell expected to deal with this week. That’s part of what gets Belichick into trouble: his understanding of the rules and his efforts at circumventing them make Goodell and the league higher-ups look bad. After all, what is the punishment? There’s mention of a minimum $25,000 fine. Goodell will increase that, because he’ll want to send a message. But by how much, and why? More work for him. More to hammer out and nail down before the Super holiday.

In any case, it doesn’t seem like Belichick will get the message Goodell wants to send. The coach will go back to the rule book, studying, deconstructing, looking for language that could potentially give him an advantage. The coach does this as well as anyone else in the league. It’s a fan’s choice whether to embrace this line of thinking or not. We know he didn’t need to tinker with air pressure to beat the Colts. We know he preps his players for on-field situations with awesome meticulousness. We can’t ignore his greatness. We can’t ignore his faults, either.

We know this about Bill Belichick: he has cheated; he will probably figure out a way to cheat again.

And, Heaven help me, I’ll be rooting for him.

Media Hypocrisy, Cowardice, Never Bigger Than When Patriots Are Involved.

Big Bad Bill Belichick.

He really does bring out the absolute worst in the media. Things that would be ignored, or laughed off if they were done by any other team, result in hysterical, hair-on-fire denunciations if the Patriots are involved.

He causes the media to become unable to think for themselves, and become subject to a mob mentality in which they are all sheep, following along with the loudest voices, afraid to produce an original thought.

The NFL, specifically its Commissioner, is a laughingstock in all of this, while pledging a transparent investigation, they instead allow late night leaks of salacious details to good ol’ boy reporters. They pledge to get all the details and facts from Foxboro when they can’t even ascertain whether a video was received by the league office showing a player knocking a woman unconscious. They want us to trust their investigation when they hire a former associate to investigate (and exonerate) themselves over said video incident.

As usual Roger Goodell has lost control of the situation, and will be in full reactionary mode once he decides to take action.

For Goodell, he can get himself into the good graces with the media by inflicting the harshest possible punishment upon Bill Belichick and the Patriots. This satisfies the bloodlust of the media and the public outside of New England, and gets Goodell back into the good graces of the media after his PR fiascos earlier in the season.

What I’m saying is be prepared for the worst possible outcome from this.

Belichick suspended for Super Bowl? Entirely possible. Suspended for next season? Entirely possible. Multiple first round draft picks taken away? Entirely possible.

If, after all of that Robert Kraft kowtows to Goodell and tells us all what a great job he’s doing one more time, I’m going to be gravely disappointed in him and what he stands for.

All of this for making the football a bit softer so the QB could grip them better. (and that’s even speculation, we don’t actually know the facts here yet, just that the balls were under regulation by 2 PSI.)

It doesn’t matter that the best quarterback in the NFL told CBS earlier this season about liking to overinflate balls and pushing the limits and seeing if they can fool the officials, all so he can grip them better.

It doesn’t matter that a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback insists on his footballs being doctored for months before he will use them in a game because he wants to be comfortable gripping them.

It doesn’t matter that a Super Bowl winning quarterback has admitted to paying $7500 to have the 100 footballs used in the Super Bowl he played in altered  so that he could grip them better.

It doesn’t matter that the Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers were using heaters to warm up footballs on the sidelines this season. (which would impact the hardness/grip of the football, by the way)

Nothing matters other than the fact that the Colts were getting their butts kicked and wanted to find a way to try and get in the Patriots heads. They didn’t actually anticipate it going this far, very similar to the Jets when they reported the Patriots for taping in an incorrect spot.

Nothing matters other than the fact the owner of the Colts, coming off a season in which he was suspended for six games, gave a crony columnist a middle of the night tip, which initially the columnist thought to ignore, but instead realized that since it was the Patriots, he’d get a lot of play out of it, and ran with it, and now says Belichick should be suspended for the Super Bowl and for that is a national star.

Nothing matters other than the fact that Belichick isn’t cuddly with the media, and most out there would like nothing more than to see him fired and disgraced, so they’re put aside any objectivity they may (unlikely) have possessed and have gone all-in on the idea that this is a huge cheat masterminded by Bill Belichick who personally oversaw the deflation of the footballs. (also unlikely) That’s the true endgame here.

The national media, in addition to the piling on of Belichick also goes after the fans who make the points above. They call it excuse making, and saying that those incidents don’t matter because the rules were broken here, and the Patriots were caught. OK. That’s legit. Punish them according to the severity of the alleged crime. But why can’t the hypocrisy be pointed out at least? We’re supposed to take this incident seriously – to the point of huge suspensions/punishments – but it’s OK to completely ignore the other incidents that have taken place?

 sometimes you can get lucky and put an extra half a pound of air in there to help Aaron Rodgers out.

Hypocrites. Cowards. Frauds.

*******

Related: The Ballghazi Takes Are Here, And They Are F****** Insane

#DeflateGate is over. This Is The Smoking Gun.

So messing around with the inflation of the ball is something only cheating Bill Belicheat and the Cheatriots would do, right?

This is from the Packers/Patriots game earlier this season. (h/t to @pedroiar for the link)

Nantz: We talked to Rodgers about ‘How do you like your football?’ because you know, you can rub them up before the game, this is something you really kind of created this for everyone else in the league.

Simms: I don’t know if I did, because the quarterbacks got tired of complaining. But he said something that was unique. ‘I like to push the limits to how much air we can put in the football – even go over what they allow you to do. See if the officials take air out of it,’ because he thinks its easier for him to grip, he likes them tight of course he has very big hands and you can tell that by watching him play.

- Play call -

Nantz: …You’ve never heard of a guy really desiring the football to be fat and overinflated, correct?

Simms: Everybody wants it smaller and soft so they can dig their fingers into it. (More on Rodgers’ hands)

Nantz talks more about Rodgers’ hands

Simms: You know, the officials do check those footballs, and sometimes you can get lucky and put an extra half a pound of air in there to help Aaron Rodgers out.

Let’s just move on and talk about what should be an awesome Super Bowl, shall we?

Send In The Clowns. Wait, They’re Already Here.

“Shame” isn’t a word in the vocabulary of the seek-attention-at-any-cost segment of the Boston sports media.

They don’t care how bad or dumb they look, as long as you look.

Whether it is Dan Shaughnessy or Gary Tanguay or whomever, they’re going to do what it takes to get your attention, no matter how idiotic or stupid it makes them look.

Great way to make a living. I’m pretty sure if these guys had lived in the era before TV, Radio and the Internet, they would’ve been circus clowns. (Hey, doesn’t Shaughnessy….never mind.)

For the latest well documented examples:

The Boston and Indianapolis media are both going certifiably insane – Matt Yoder on Awful Announcing looks at the just…embarrassing antics going on this week.

People around the country hate Boston sports fans, and in many ways it’s because of the quasi-media types in that link.

Others who aren’t embarrassing themselves in that manner, aren’t really too interested in the AFC Championship Game taking place this Sunday at Gillette. Evidence of “meh” attitude manifested itself as I was in the car this morning, and each time I turned to one of the stations, there was talk of other things, notably, the Rt 93 protesters and the Academy Awards nominations. While I’m sure there was plenty of football talk, I didn’t hear it.

Andy Gresh is on the way out at The Sports Hub – Chad Finn confirms my suspicions of yesterday. He also reports that Gary Tanguay will also be out on the Patriots pre and post game broadcasts.

I can hardly wait to see what crew Jonathan Kraft trots out on the shows for next season.

Links.

New England Prepares for New Indianapolis – It’s easy to declare that since the Patriots dominated the Colts in recent matchups, not much is going to change, Matt Chatham explains why that is definitely not the case inside Gillette Stadium.

LaFell’s rise crucial to Pats’ success – Jackie MacMullan has a feature on the Patriots receiver, who last spring thought he would be playing in the AFC Championship this week. For Denver. Against the Patriots.

Once a forgotten man, Danny Amendola has risen to occasion for New England Patriots – Kevin Duffy with a piece on the oft-maligned receiver, and looks at his history with Julian Edelman and LaFell, which predates their time with the Patriots by years.

The Belichick-Brady Legacy Is Defined by Wins, Not Tapes or Tucks – Mike Freeman with a great column on the duo, and has some nice Spygate debunking.

Are the Colts 22 points better now? Here’s what the stats say – Alex Speier looks at whether the Colts can beat the Patriots simply by playing at the level that they’ve improved to in recent weeks.

Get everything else at PatriotsLinks.com.