Stall, lie, cheat — it’s Patriots’ way, and perfectly timed (updated)

New England coach Bill Belichick throws himself on the mercy of the court. OK, not really. (AP photo)

New England coach Bill Belichick throws himself on the mercy of the court. OK, not really. (AP photo)

(Updated with Tom Brady comments.)

Bill Belichick says he doesn’t know anything about deflated footballs.

“I have no explanation for what happened,” he said.

Of course not. Because I’m sure there are a number of things that go on within the New England Patriots’ organization that Belichick doesn’t know about.

(Lightning strikes me.)

Here’s another beauty: “When I came in Monday morning, I was shocked to learn of the news reports about the footballs. I had no knowledge whatsoever of this situation until Monday morning.”

I’m hearing the voice of “Louis” from Casablanca in my head.

New England plays a Super Bowl next week. That’s all Belichick cares about. That’s all the NFL cares about. The longest shot on the board isn’t Belichick admitting culpability in “DeflateGate,” it’s NFL commissioner Roger Goodell saying or doing anything that’s going to upset the league’s centerpiece event.

If anything happens to the Patriots — and yes, I do believe they will be fined and/or lose draft picks as a result of the discovery that 11 of their offense’s 12 footballs in last week’s AFC title win over Indianapolis were found to be deflated — it will be long after the Super Bowl.

Belichick is not going to be suspended, as much as so many are pushing for that. The only conversation  he’ll be having with Goodell next Sunday will possibly take place on a stage after the Super Bowl in Arizona when the commissioner is handing him the Lombardi Trophy.

Is Goodell upset? Of course. The only thing he hates more than being made to look like a liar and a goof in the Ray Rice, domestic violence, I-never-saw-that-elevator-video saga is being fooled or lied to twice.

Roger Goodell will be channeling these three guys Super Bowl week. (via Chez Gigi)

Roger Goodell will be channeling these three guys Super Bowl week. (via Chez Gigi)

One reason the NFL came down so hard on former Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was Vick lied to Goodell’s face when asked directly about allegations that he was funding and participating in a dog fighting enterprise. (Vick also learned lying to the Feds would prove to be a bigger mistake than the crime itself.) Goodell already came down on the Patriots for “Spygate” and the organization constantly walks the line — or crosses the line — in other areas, including compliance with injury report guidelines. In short, the Patriots can be a pain for the NFL to deal with.

Once more, with feeling: New England defeated Indianapolis 45-7, so deflated footballs were not going to be factor in the outcome. But you can’t have teams, coaches or players — because Tom Brady is as at least complicit as Belichick in this case, if not more — doctoring equipment. It’s cheating. Period.

Belichick knows the best course of action here is to stall. Or lie. Or both. Nothing is going to happen until well after his team plays for a championship. That’s all that matters in his bubble. It’s not as if the NFL would vacate a Super Bowl win based on deflated footballs in the AFC championship game.

Patriots+Deflated+Footballs

Tom Brady read from the same, “I know nothing,” script as his head coach. (AP photo)

Brady is following the same script as his head coach. He denied bleeding air out of the footballs or asking anybody to do so, denied even realizing he was throwing a deflated football, even though he has picked up a football exactly … how many times?

So, in summary, two of the most dedicated, obsessed and detail-oriented individuals in the history of professional football never noticed that footballs had been deflated. Completely believable.

Selections from his news conference:

• “Everyone’s trying to figure out what happened. I was as surprised as anybody when I heard Monday morning (on his radio show) what was happening. … I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I don’t know what happened.”

• “I didn’t alter the ball in any way. … I would never do anything outside the rules of play. I would never have somebody do something that I thought was outside the rules.”

• (Three days after laughing about the topic on the radio.) “This is a very serious topic. The integrity of the sport is very important. … I feel like I have always played within the rules. I would never break the rules.”

• “We’re going to be fine. This isn’t Isis. No one is dying.”

Good to know.

Actually, the most illuminating thing from Brady’s media session was the NFL hasn’t spoken to him yet. Yes, it appears the league’s crack investigative team is right on top of this.

Goodell hates how this week is unfolding and he’s going to hate it even more next week when the subject is debated daily and he’s asked about it in his annual state-of-the-NFL address. But he’s not going to take action against New England now because that would inflame the situation even more during Super Bowl week.

And Belichick and Brady know that.

A recent writer’s dozen from the digital jukebox
— AJC: DeflateGate: It’s time for NFL to forfeit games for cheaters
— MyAJC: Walsh-Montana still top Belichick-Brady on coach-QB mountain
— AJC: Seattle’s Super Bowl only delays Falcons’ hiring of Dan Quinn
— AJC: Oddsmaker says Braves’ win total will be ‘low 70s’ (with reader poll)
— MyAJC: Braves’ moves carry Coppolella’s fingerprints
— AJC: There goes Evan Gattis as Braves take another big hit
— AJC: Quinn was tabbed as ‘Next Great Coach’ but can Falcons get him?
— AJC: UPDATE: Bowles goes to Jets but if Falcons get Quinn it won’t matter
— AJC: Falcons should talk to John Fox before making decision on Quinn, Bowles
— AJC: Rex Ryan going to Buffalo — and that’s not bad news for Falcons
— AJC: Nick Saban, the mercenary, takes on ex-Bulldog Jonathan Taylor
— MyAJC: Falcons’ backdrop not comforting for coaching search
— AJC: Falcons’ changes: Pioli’s role increases, so what does this mean for Dimitroff?
— AJC: How’s this scenario: Falcons vs. Giants and Mike Smith’s defense in 2015?
— MyAJC: Smoltz just wanted to survive, but he did so much more
— AJC John Smoltz, a Hall of Famer on many levels, gets the call

 

Reader Comments 0

106 comments
Mery Eva
Mery Eva

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Mark Singer
Mark Singer

Belichick – “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…”

If you choose to buy the nonsense Belichick is spewing, you immediately run into a problem.It doesn’t fit the facts or reality.It doesn’t explain why none of the Colts balls were similarly affected.Why were all the Colts balls legal and 11 of 12 Patriots balls not.All of his smokescreen about temperature blah blah blah doesn’t fit reality.His entire press conference boils down to an attempted reprimand of the press and attempted instruction to the press to shut up and stop talking about this embarrassment exposing Patriot cheating.He has the audacity to site past years of integrity as an example, when we all know he has cheated in the past.Belichick gets frustrated when the press and fans don’t shut up and do what he says (like when he is in the locker room with his players).Wake up Bill.We are not buying it.

DrPhill
DrPhill

Bellicheat doesn't care, but this issue will follow Brady in HOF discussions.

new observer
new observer

Lance Armstrong was a champion cheater for years.  He and thousands of others defended his integrity and forked out big bucks to him and his causes.  Big lies were told for big money.  Is Tom Brady just another Lance Armstrong in a football uniform?

Don in DC
Don in DC

It may be worth remembering that Matt Leinart played at USC, which has a rap sheet for putting under inflated footballs in play.

RealKat
RealKat

Offer a reward for anyone (maintenance man, equipment manager, etc) who can provide evidence of the deflation. Money always brings out the truth...and the cheats. Offer an underling who's tired to Brady sticking his nose in the air a cool sum of cash and the mouths will start blabbing.

sliderule
sliderule

Everyone seems to be ignoring the Ravens 31-35 loss.  I am assuming the Pats have been cheating with under-inflated balls for a period of time.  A throw made more accurate or a catch made easier could have made a complete difference in that game.  Ditto every other game.

jwh
jwh

This is too funny. Someone is offended at cheating in sports? Cheating has become part of the game from trapping the ball in baseball and trying to sell it to the umpire to use of steroids. Cheating in football is more than obvious as many of the penalty flags are thrown for such (interference, holding, etc.). Deflating a football is just a more sophisticated or original way of cheating like the snowplow incident with the Pats or the Minnesota Twins maintenance crew who turned the air conditioners on and off during the 1991 Braves World Series. There are only imaginary morals in sports. May the best cheater win.

georgiabuckmaster
georgiabuckmaster

Check Brady's stats from the first half vs the second half? People can't figure out how the Patriots  constantly win and altering the football isn't what makes this team good. I'm not a Patriots fan but this story has gone way too far.

Dawggie
Dawggie

This post is so good, I'm gonna re-post it.


Alberta 5ptsFeatured
19 hours ago

Each team provides 12 game balls to some referee before the game starts.  At that point the ref has control of the balls and is responsible for them, included checking to ensure that the balls meet specs, etc.  If the balls were underinflated it would be the controlling ref's responsiblity to address the situation BEFORE THE GAME STARTS?

Tell me again how this is the Patriots' fault?

It's interesting how Jeff's argument omits this information.

Baghead
Baghead

@Dawggie I don't think anyone is saying it's not their fault.  If anything, the NFL and Goodell are guilty as well.  They've obviously known this was going on for years.  The Colts complained about it a long time ago.  Either way, your argument is stupid.  The Patriots are at fault because they are the ones that did it.  The purposely did it and now they are lying because they know it's getting blown up and it won't end.  

Rob Billeaud
Rob Billeaud

I've said it before and I'll say it again, to find the explanation for anything in the NFL, all you have to do is follow the money. Goodell suspended Sean Payton a couple of years ago for "bountygate" and he had no problem doing so because New Orleans, a small market team, being successful was actually a drag on profits. When a small market team does well, merchandising for officially licensed gear for that team goes up, but there is a corresponding - and often much greater - loss in merchandising revenue for large market teams. Economically, small market teams are a problem for the NFL. New England, on the other hand, is a large market team (they have Boston and the entire upper East Coast). The NFL would be shooting itself in the foot if New England were to fall from prominence, so while Belicheck may deserve to be suspended, he won't be.

Baghead
Baghead

@Rob Billeaud And Kraft and Goodell are buddy buddy.  I believe Kraft singlehandedly saved Goodell from being voted out last year.  It was his comments that got all the owners to hold still.  Goodell is a piece of garbage just like Bellichik.  He should be ousted yesterday.

Don Vanderpool
Don Vanderpool

Cheats and liars, they should be banned from the NFL.

GT71
GT71

The Patriots punishment?

Make them all subscribe to and only use the AJC for sports news.

Excruciating pain, constant link-jumps, pop-all-over ads,wasted time, etc.  Yeah, that should do it.

If this isn't the worst online news site in America, I'd like to see worse.

Philo_Farnsworth
Philo_Farnsworth

That would be cruel and unusual punishment, clearly unconstitutional...

tyger
tyger

HBCU Classic Sports - 2015 Draftboard (1-20)


1.Lynden Trail 6’7, 265 LB/DE Norfolk St. - Senior Bowl
2.Robert Myers 6’5, 305 OL Tenn St Senior Bowl
3.Daniel Fitzpatrick 6’2, 215 S Tenn St - OVC DPOY
4. Anthony Bass 6’2, 230 DE/LB Tenn St - OVC DPOY
5.Leron Furr 6’3, 235 ILB FVSU 2x SIAC DPOY
6.Greg McGhee 6’2, 210 QB Howard MEAC OPOY
7.Jerome Howard 6’2, 230 LB Prairie View - SWAC DPOY
8.Matthew Reece 6’5, 300 OL Tuskegee - 3x All-SIAC 
9.LeBrandon Richardson 6’1, 255 DE/LB Bethune - MEAC DPOY
10.Donald Mattocks 5’8, 178 CB NC A&T - NCAA INT leader (7)
11.De'Ante Saunders, 5'10,190 S Tenn. St. - All-OVC, Florida transfer
12.Milton Williams III, 6'3, 200 WR Del. St. - 2x All-MEAC
13.Nick Thrasher, 6'2, 240 LB Tenn. St. - 2x All-OVC
14.Phillip Sims, 6'3, 220 QB WSSU - All-CIAA, Alabama/UVA transfer
15.Ronald Canty 6'0, 277 C NC A&T - All-MEAC, 225/25x, 430 bench
16.Mo Henderson, 5'9,190 RB Linc.(Mo.)- 2x All-MIAA, 20TDs 1,813yds.
17.Duvontae Cunningham, 6'3, 285 DL WSSU - CIAA DPOY
18.Keenan Lambert 6'1, 215 S Norfolk - All-MEAC, Medal Honor Bowl 
19.Domanic Wilson, 6'5, 300 OL SCSU - All-MEAC, FCS Bowl 
20.Malcolm Cyrus, 5'10, 185 RB Ala. St - 2x All-SWAC, FCS Bowl


www.hbcuclassics.com (subject to change)

JONBONBON
JONBONBON

Goodell is going to get Beli-chick in an elevator and do the nasty as his "form of punishment"

Whiznot
Whiznot

The deflated balls story is the biggest non-story ever told. Every Quarterback should be able to inflate to his own preference. I've never been sicker of any sports story. Get over it nation there are real problems to be addressed.

GT71
GT71

@Whiznot  Yep.  Pablum for the masses and ad sales ops for corporate sponsors during the hiatus between gladiatorial thugs.

Don Vanderpool
Don Vanderpool

@Whiznot  Agreed, they should have let Indy and Baltimore manipulate their footballs as well. But since they didn't the Patriots CHEATED. Seems like a story to me.

fred smyt
fred smyt

I love how the ref couldn't feel it, the linebacker for the colts couldn't feel the difference, but Brady must have felt it.  The difference between 12.5 and 11.5 is very small.  Even the guy from mike and mike was given two balls to check out and he said that unless you were looking for it, you would not be able to tell the difference. Love how everyone wants there to be some kind of guilt.  I am really surprised how much people hate New England and I'm a vikes fan.  The game has lacked integrity all along and to see all the cheating on the field every game get overlooked only to have you moralists now crying about the integrity of the game is just disingenuous at best. 

EScottD
EScottD

As a Steeler's and now Panther's fan I have no love for the Patriot's.  I do not think they cheated. 


Here's what I would have done if I knew Brady liked "soft balls".  I would store them overnight in the dry sauna and deflate them to a PSI of 12.6 or so and count on the natural cooling of the gas.  The balls would pass inspection (legally presented to officials) then keep them outside.  after inspection.


The only logical explanation for them to be uniformly underinflated.  Perfectly legal though.

gfw
gfw

For Brady to deny that he could tell the ball was under-inflated is the howler of the year.  This guy could probably tell if a ball was 1-2 oz. of pressure low, much less 2 pounds.  For God's sake, it's a finger-tip thing.  Don't know how he could keep a straight face.  I personally hope Goodell throws the Patriots out of the Super Bowl.  Don't know what, short of that, plus a $10  million fine, could possibly be sufficient punishment for Belichick.

4HGJDK
4HGJDK

@gfw you realize that 2 PSI is equivalent to less the weight of a small piece of paper. I doubt anyone can tell the difference

gfw
gfw

@4HGJDK @gfw  A deflation of 2 PSI is a 15.38% deflation of a standard 13 PSI NFL football.  15.38% is actually quite significant, which is why there is currently this huge NFL investigation. 

Don Vanderpool
Don Vanderpool

@4HGJDK @gfw  Have you ever tried to palm a basketball? I doubt you have ever even attempted to throw a fully inflated regulation NFL football.

MikeS777
MikeS777

Good column, Jeff.  Fact is, until they do something like what you suggested in forfeiting games, we will keep seeing this circus act.

CNN has a good several videos on it.  In one video, they are doing a round table discussion which includes a female journalist who happens to be a Patriots fan.  Everyone thought that suspensions/draft picks were in order except for her, and she really makes a good point.  To her, forfeiting the game is the only way to drive this home.  If you cheat, you forfeit the win, and the Colts should move on to the Super Bowl.  She said fines and draft picks won't do anything, and she's right.

A fine to a player or coach that makes millions of dollars per year is just not going to have any lasting effect.  Neither is taking draft picks away.  It clearly didn't drive any message home after Spygate.

On top of that, NE still gets to play the Super Bowl.  If they win it, I guarantee we will listen to ESPN, Fox, and CBS talk about what a legend Belichick and Brady are.  We are hearing it anyway as if Spygate never happened.

It's honestly enough to make you puke.

gfw
gfw

@MikeS777 Agree totally.  Forfeiture is the only honorable option for Goodell.  But I'm pretty sure Goodell isn't being paid $40+ million a year to do the honorable thing here.  The owners will say: unlike situations in which a player does wrong, in this kind of situation, where an entire team stands in the dock, the harsher the penalty, the more it will tarnish the brand.  But I hope I'm wrong, and that Goodell buries them.

58Supersports
58Supersports

When did everyone become so concerned about the rules?  Obama can break the rules, law, Constitution and no one says  a word but a football game an everyone goes crazy.

Jeff of all people calling someone a lie, cheat, and Patriots way... just like a liberal calling someone else names. Bet you wouldn't tell them to their face.

Yes, something happen to the balls but lets prove what happen before we hang the guys. Just my opinion

gfw
gfw

@58Supersports Sorry, but bringing the President into this, whatever your politics, is moronic.

Schmedrick McSchmedrick
Schmedrick McSchmedrick

@58Supersports Yes, no one ever criticizes Obama.  I mean I flip through Fox News, and CNN and Limbaugh and Hannity and you hardly hear his name mentioned.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@58Supersports: "Obama can break the rules, law, Constitution and no one says a word but a football game an everyone goes crazy."

________________________

That's because football is clearly more important than politics.

LeftisnotRight
LeftisnotRight

Did the refs really check those balls?............

new observer
new observer

Life lesson 501: The name of the game in pro football, "Never bet on the point spread".

OH_IO
OH_IO

" I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewisnski.."


Slick Willy

Mr Peabody
Mr Peabody

Well in the screwed up mess at least "German Court Upholds Tenant's Right to Pee Standing Up"...

earthworx
earthworx

If you intentionally cheated you forfeit the game. Why is that such a difficult concept to comprehend? That's the remedy for cheating in plenty of sports. And if you forfeit the Patriots, chances are about 100% no one will cheat again.

DanJohn
DanJohn

The cover-up has begun or has it?  I wonder how many people watched  Brady's and Belichick's press conference trying to read their body language?  

JAS0N
JAS0N

"you can’t have teams, coaches or players...doctoring equipment. It’s cheating. Period."


If you are not allowed to doctor the footballs, then why are they provided to each team before the game.


If you are not allowed to doctor the footballs, then why are they provided to each team before the game.

oledawg
oledawg

Whine....whine....whine.  That is what our current society does best.  Let's see, maybe if those Colts DB's would have actually put their hands on a few more Brady passes then they would have known about the 2 lb psi difference.  Excuses, excuses, excuses!!!  If I were the Colts I would be ashamed that this discussion was even taking place.

GTBob
GTBob

@oledawg I don't think a single Colts player or coach has even commented on it. Where is the supposed whining coming from?

candlin14
candlin14

Whats sad is the fact that ESPN has spent more time in the last 48 hours talking about deflated footballs then they have covering the Atlanta Hawks, a first place Eastern Conference team. The NBA season has been going on for three months!!!! ESPN BLOWS!!!!

OH_IO
OH_IO

@candlin14


The NBA does not pull ratings unless it's Kobe and LeBron or until the playoffs start. 


Money Honey

CoronaGT
CoronaGT

@FineousMcDirtyBird @candlin14  No, what's sad is that you have to make a crappy comment like this about the only real positive sports story we have in Atlanta right now.  If you don't like the Hawks, don't watch them or go to their games.  Personally, I am not a big fan of the NBA, but I love watching this unselfish TEAM play.