The deflategate saga surrounding the New England Patriots and possibly deflating footballs in the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis has really taken some crazy turns recently, and by this time nobody really knows anything about what actually happened. We have the NFL and this horrible investigation to thank for that.
Today, during his press conference at the NFL Scouting Combine, however, Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson dropped a nugget of information that we didn't have before: the Colts had concerns prior to the AFC Championship game.
"Earlier in that week, prior to the AFC Championship game, we notified the league about our concerns," Grigson told the media today. "We went into the game, we had some issues, but we're going to do what we can, and that's participate the league in the investigation and wait until the Wells Report comes out. We really have no other recourse but to wait until that investigation comes about."
Grigson added that he was "just doing my job" in alerting the league about the concerns the team had. "Like I said, we had concerns," he repeated after further questions. "Just like I think any general manager would do, wants their team to play on a level playing field and we took the proper steps to try to ensure that and it's up to the league to make sure that that happens. So again, if rules were broken, we'll see. If not, that's what the investigation is for. But again we're just doing our jobs and trying to ensure we give our teams the best chance to win on a level playing field."
Of course, there are more questions that this brings up. Firstly, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said that he found out about the concerns the day after the game just like everybody else when the news broke. Yet his team's GM said that the Colts alerted the NFL the week before. Did Grigson find out about the concerns, notify the league, and not tell his head coach about it? Are either Grigson or Pagano not telling the truth? If it's the first one, it would fit right into this mess of a situation. And if it's the second one, well, it would fit right into this mess of a situation.
Perhaps the bigger question this brings up, however, is that it shifts the scrutiny to the NFL. If what Grigson said is true (and I'd be more inclined to believe Grigson than some anonymous source), then what the heck was the NFL doing? Were they running a sting operation on the Patriots trying to catch them in the act of cheating? Because it sounds unlikely that the Patriots knew about this entering the game, but if the Colts (and maybe even other teams) had concerns about the Patriots entering the AFC Championship game, wouldn't it have made sense to let the Patriots know about that? Instead, this whole deflategate situation happened. If what Grigson said is true, it puts the questions on the NFL, as it gives more credence to the opinion some have held that the league set the Patriots up to try to catch them cheating.
Ultimately, we have no idea about what actually happened with this situation, and both Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano deferred to the Wells Report for information. Hopefully when that comes out we'll know more, but right now, this is just a crazy, confusing mess that has taken up way too much attention.