At first, the situation sounded so Little League.
Turns out, it’s simply bush league.
And DeflateGate now seems like LiarsGate.
No, not Lions Gate, as in the entertainment company – although this is certainly getting entertaining.
In fact, the New England Patriots’ apparent coverup is looking like a sitcom.
One with skyrocketing ratings.
Tom Brady, the guy with leading-man looks, is the star of the show.
Bill Belichick, a guy who has played villainous roles more than a few times, is the top supporting actor.
We haven’t heard much from Pats’ owner Robert Kraft. Seems he should be asking – and answering – plenty of questions himself.
His role is to be determined in the series, “Three Mystic Apes.”
Look, my reaction to DeflateGate was probably much the same as most folks on Sunday night.
“Come on. Really? Move on, Indy – you got worked.”
The New England Patriots’ alleged intentional use of deflated footballs in their 45-7 AFC Championship romp of Indianapolis sounded like politicians complaining about losing an election or Little League parents protesting the result of a game.
This ordeal, however, has taken a life of its own. And not just because we’re just more than a week from Super Sunday.
Thursday’s news conferences, in which both Belichick and Brady did their best Sergeant Schultz impersonations – “I know nothing. I see nothing. I hear nothing” – has taken this to the brink of the absurd.
Belichick, already fined $500,000 for a previous cheating issue, threw Brady under the bus on Thursday morning. The coach said he knew nothing about it and Brady was the only one who could answer questions about deflated balls.
Brady, after all, is Mr. NFL America. His image could take a minor hit, right?
And Brady didn’t even have to come clean. All he had to do was admit something along the lines of, “The balls did seem a little underinflated. I can see why there are so many questions.”
Heck, it’s not like Gisele is going to leave him for that.
But Brady gave us a bunch of hooey about how carefully he inspects footballs, and all equipment before the game, but doesn’t think about them again during the game.
Hey Tom, how many hundreds of thousands of footballs have you thrown in your life? And you couldn’t tell these felt different?
And you couldn’t tell they felt different from when you carefully inspected them a few hours earlier?
It seemed like Indy linebacker D’Qwell Jackson noticed the difference when he intercepted one of your mush balls late in the second quarter. If you check the replay slow-mo of Jackson’s pick, he looks at the ball with sort-of a confused dog tilt of the head.
And Jackson reportedly said something on the Colts sidelines about the ball being deflated on Sunday. On Thursday, however, Jackson said, “The deal about me saying that I noticed anything about it, that’s totally false.”
If nobody bothered to interview Jackson about it until Thursday, then we have two topics – soft balls and softball media.
What was impact?
Did deflated footballs make a difference in the game? Guess we’ll never know for sure.
Yes, it was a blowout. But we’ve all seen a game change so quickly on one play, on one turn of momentum.
Ask Green Bay.
If Indy’s Andrew Luck was throwing mushballs to running back Boom Herron, would Herron have dropped those two passes? Again, who knows?
What I do know, is that it all sounded like a ridiculous subject – until I heard Brady’s Steve Alford-esque response to a question about DeflateGate to a Boston radio station on Monday.
Brady’s dismissive phony belly-laugh was familiar locally, and raised eyebrows nationally. It gave the impression there was something to it.
Three-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Troy Aikman told Fox, “I can’t imagine Tom Brady did not know. … My guess is that it was his request.”
Former quarterback Mark Brunell on ESPN: “I did not believe what Tom Brady had to say.”
“Somebody got to somebody and took a couple of pounds out of the ball,” said Mike Pereira, the NFL’s former vice president of officiating, on Fox. “This is cheating and something the league will deal with harshly.”
Legendary local high school coach Bill Gentry told me that he used to make sure the footballs his teams used were at their lowest legal inflation, “They’re easier for the quarterbacks to throw, receivers to catch and running backs to carry.”
Yet Brady didn’t notice the change? And Belichick didn’t know about it?
Possible penalties and sanctions are being bantered about; fines, loss of draft picks and the like.
How about even harsher?
And no, you can’t keep the Pats from playing Feb. 1.
But if evidence shows Brady and Belichick played a role in this charade, the NFL should keep them off the sideline in Glendale, Ariz., that day.