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Patriots Suspected Of Deflating Balls in AFC Championship

This isn’t going to do much to squash the perception of the New England Patriots as the same shady team implicated in Spygate back in 2007. On Monday NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed to the Associated Press that the league is looking into allegations that the Pats deflated balls in the AFC Championship against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

Citing an unnamed source, WTHR Indiana’s Bob Kravitz was the first to report that at one point during the game an official, suspecting something was off, took a ball out of play and weighed it. No additional information has become available, but Patriots coach Bill Belichick said the team would cooperate fully with any resulting investigation.

Quarterback Tom Brady was less diplomatic, dismissing the charge as “ridiculous,” adding, “I think I’ve heard it all at this point. That’s the last of my worries. I don’t even respond to stuff like this.” Probably a good policy, as the Patriots seem to find themselves embroiled in semi-scandals on a fairly regular basis.

In fact, just one week ago after defeating the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round, coach John Harbaugh sounded off publicly about some unorthodox formations the Patriots used in the game. Although there is nothing in the rules preventing them, Harbaugh stopped just short of referring to Belichick as “Belicheat” while calling the tactics deceptive and suggesting the NFL will take action during the offseason.

“Deflategate,” because of course it’s already been given a “gate,” would have more staying power if the game wasn’t such a lopsided affair. A partially deflated ball would be easier to throw and catch in inclement weather such as that experienced in Foxborough on Sunday, but there’s nothing that could have been done to the football to account for the Colts losing 45-7 in a game that was already out of hand in the first quarter.

Should the league find that the Patriots did, in fact, intentionally alter one or all of the 12 balls on their sideline, “the head coach or other club personnel will be subject to discipline including but not limited to, a fine of $25,000.” That per the league’s game operations manual notes. They could also be forced to forfeit draft picks.

No matter what happens in the investigation, the Patriots have already been tried and convicted in the court of public opinion. They haven’t been afforded the benefit of the doubt in a very long time, which could muddy the Seattle Seahawks’ “us against the world” waters ahead of Super Bowl XLIX—the Patriots wrote the book on manufactured underdog drama.

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