On Friday, ESPN's Sal Paolantonio told a San Diego radio station that two of the owners who would be upset if Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's suspension is reduced are Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti and Colts owner Jim Irsay.
On Sunday, Bisciotti denied the report, issuing a statement saying that, "I have not and will not put any pressure on the Commissioner or anyone representing the NFL office to take action in what everyone is calling 'Deflategate.' The story circulating that I have put pressure on Roger (Goodell) is 100% wrong. The reports are unfair to Robert Kraft, who is an honorable person, and to his franchise. Let's talk about football and the start of training camps. F ans and people like me want the issue resolved now."
Today, the other owner who Paolantonio named also denied the report. Jim Irsay spoke with the Indianapolis Star and said, "that's not true at all. I haven't talked to Roger Goodell about DeflateGate since late January. Not true. That's not the way things work involving someone else's business and someone else's team. It's not something I've ever seen, and I've been around ownership (in the NFL) for half a century."
Then Sal Paolantonio, the reporter who started the report, went on a Baltimore radio station today and backtracked on what he had previously said. "I was wrong to say what I said because clearly it sounds like Steve Bisciotti doesn't care," Paolantonio said, according to the Ravens' website. "And what I was able to find out pretty clearly, is that the owners are not pressuring Roger Goodell, at all. So I never should have reported that. And the other thing too, is that it wasn't a report. It was just me talking on a radio station. It was my opinion and it was speculation."
Sorry, Sal, but when an ESPN reporter goes on a radio station and doesn't give any indication that it's his own opinion but rather says that some owners will be upset and that, "I know who they are and I'm gonna name them right now," it certainly sounds like you're reporting something concrete rather than an opinion. And then he said that owners are not pressuring Roger Goodell to make a decision "at all" and that he never should have reported that. Yeah, I'd say so, Sal.
Ultimately, his report simply said that Bisciotti and Irsay would be upset if Tom Brady's four-game suspension for his role in deflategate is reduced, and that makes perfect sense. As we looked at a few days ago, it is perfectly reasonable for the two owners who are most connected to deflategate (other than Robert Kraft) to have a more vested interest in the outcome. And it wouldn't surprise me (note: this is my own opinion, as I'm making it clear) if both Irsay and Bisciotti are indeed wanting Brady's suspension to be upheld. There's nothing at all wrong with that.
But where some of the criticism came in was when people thought that Bisciotti and Irsay were actually pressuring the Commissioner to uphold Brady's suspension, but that turns out not to be the case at all. Both Steve Bisciotti and Jim Irsay have denied pressuring Roger Goodell at all, and Sal Paolantonio has also backed off of his report and denied that the owners are pressuring Goodell. So I guess that we can now safely conclude that, while it makes sense for owners to have personal opinions about what the outcome of Roger Goodell's ruling should be, they are not pressuring the Commissioner to make a decision one way or the other.