If you've been paying attention to the NFL world over the past 24 hours, you've no doubt heard of "deflategate," the NFL's latest investigation into the New England Patriots' organization for cheating.
WTHR's Bob Kravitz first reported yesterday that the NFL was looking into the issue of the Patriots possibly deflating their footballs in order to make them easier to throw and catch in the less than ideal weather conditions of Foxborough on Sunday night. The NFL has requirements that footballs be inflated between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds, so anything outside of that range is against the rules. Allegedly, the Patriots had deflated some of their footballs to make them easier to play with.
According to a person familiar with the background of the matter, the Colts first noticed something unusual after an interception by Colts linebacker D'Qwell Jackson in the second quarter. Jackson gave the ball to a member of the Colts' equipment staff, who noticed the ball seemed underinflated and then notified coach Chuck Pagano.
General manager Ryan Grigson was notified in the press box, and he contacted Mike Kensil, NFL director of football operations. Kensil then told the on-field officials at halftime, when the Patriots led 17-7. The Patriots erupted for 21 points in the third quarter, although it is not known if any of the balls were improperly inflated after halftime.
So basically, the Colts first noticed the deflated footballs when D'Qwell Jackson made a fantastic interception at the goal line of quarterback Tom Brady (the Colts' best play of the night, might I add). Of course, intercepting Tom Brady in the AFC Championship game is quite an accomplishment, especially for someone playing in his first postseason, so Jackson naturally wanted to hang on to the football. So he gave it to an equipment guy, as is the normal routine, and the equipment guy noticed that the football was deflated. That equipment guy notified head coach Chuck Pagano, and in turn general manager Ryan Grigson was made aware of the situation too. According to the Indianapolis Star's Stephen Holder, Grigson was sitting behind him in the press box and received a phone call that seemed to "trouble" the general manager and that caused him to leave "abruptly." This makes perfect sense in light of Glauber's report. Grigson told the director of football operations, Mike Kensil, and then Kensil told the referees.
Head coach Chuck Pagano, to his credit, didn't talk much about the issue during his Monday press conference. "Did not notice, and that's something for the league to handle," Pagano answered when asked about it. "It's not my place to comment on it." This was the smart answer from Pagano, seeing as his team had lost 45-7 the night before. And one thing is very clear: the deflated footballs had nothing to do with the result of the game. Would the Patriots have had as much success as they did? I have no idea. But the Patriots still would have won, and they still would have won convincingly. The Colts' offense was playing with normal footballs and they only scored seven points. The deflated footballs don't make as much of a difference in the run game as they do in the pass, but the Colts couldn't stop either. Again, the reason for the Colts loss had nothing to do with "deflategate."
In most cases, this wouldn't even be much of a story. But the Patriots can't really complain about the fact that it is, because the main reason for that is due to their history. Simply put, the Patriots have a history of cheating. So when any allegations of cheating come up, even if they seem minor like this one, it will receive a lot more attention. Just as a kid caught cheating in school can't complain that there's extra scrutiny on him moving forward, the Patriots can't complain that people are paying attention to this, seeing as they've been caught cheating before.
But ultimately, even if the Patriots lose draft picks, they're still in the Super Bowl and the Colts are still at home, their season over. And that had nothing at all to do with deflated footballs.