PHOENIX — The New England Patriots are scheduled to arrive in Arizona later today and hold their first media session of Super Bowl week tonight (8 p.m.), during which there figures to be more questions about deflated footballs.
I’ll update this blog later with comments from the Seattle Seahawks’ late afternoon news conference, then write a full column later for MyAJC.com on whether “DeflateGate,” combined with “SpyGate” and the Patriots’ reputation for coloring outside the lines with the rulebook, tarnishes their legacy.
Former Georgia and New England tight end Jermaine Wiggins spoke at a rally for the Patriots Monday at Boston City Hall, telling the crowd, “They hate us because they ain’t us.”
There’s some truth to that. Fans in most NFL cities — Atlanta included — would love to call the Patriots their team. They win. But to suggest that’s the ONLY reason New England has come under criticism would be disingenuous.
Along those lines, it was amusing to hear quarterback Tom Brady’s comments on his weekly Monday morning radio show on Boston’s WEEI.
“I personalized a lot of things and thought this was all about me and my feelings got hurt, and then I moved past it because it’s not serving me. … I think what’s serving me is to try to prepare for the game ahead, and I’ll deal with whatever happens later. I’ll have my opportunity to try to figure out what happened and figure out a theory like everyone else is trying to do. But this isn’t the time for that…”
His feelings were hurt? That’s almost as funny as Bill Belichick’s attempt to scientifically explain how air could have seeped out of the ball:
“So the atmospheric conditions, as well as the true equilibrium of the ball, is critical to the measurement.”
I’ll get into this more later, but it’s laughable that Brady still denies even realizing that the New England offense was using deflated footballs in the AFC championship game against Indianapolis, let alone who orchestrated the deflating.
I know Patriot fans are attacking media members for making an issue to this story, but several NFL legends are saying the same thing. Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman, a three-time Super Bowl winner and Hall of Famer, told a Dallas radio station, “It’s obvious that Tom Brady had something to do with this. … That doesn’t happen unless the quarterback wants that to happen, I can assure you of that.”
None of this means the Patriots aren’t a great team and wouldn’t have won the AFC title game anyway. But how far back does New England’s cheating go?
Meanwhile, if you missed it, Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman weighed in on the subject Sunday night, speculating that nothing would happen to New England because of the long-standing friendship between team owner Robert Kraft and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Sherman: “Will they be punished? Probably not. Not as long as Robert Kraft and Roger Goodell are still taking pictures at their respective homes. … You talk about conflict of interest. As long as that happens, it won’t affect them at all. Nothing will stop them.”
Here’s the photo Sherman was referring to. It was Tweeted by New England’s official account on Jan. 17, the eve of the AFC championship game.
• A recent writer’s dozen from the digital jukebox
— MyAJC: Hawks are closest team to rare Atlanta sports title — AJC: Matt Ryan doesn’t believe deflating footballs is the norm — MyAJC: Al Horford finally past injuries and frustration with Hawks — AJC: Stall, lie, cheat — it’s the Patriots’ way, and perfectly timed — 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?