By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Senior Staff Writer
For the love of Pete Rozelle, make it stop.
Just when it looked like we could all enjoy the spring season with little or no mention of PSI levels in footballs, two federal judges had to go and ruin it for everyone. Never in the history of professional sports has a dead horse been beaten any harder than the fallen filly named Deflategate has.
Do I think that the Patriots tampered with the pressure in the footballs? Yes, the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming, in my opinion.
Do I think that Tom Brady was aware of what was going on with the game balls at Foxboro on a regular basis? Hell ya, I do.
Do I think that the most micro managing head coach in the history of the NFL was aware of what his quarterback was telling the ball boys to do with the footballs prior to every game? Yup, you betcha.
Do I think that the Patriots – and TB12, in particular – are getting a major screwing over for such a minor infraction? There is no doubt in my mind.
To the irate Pats fans who most likely would like to pummel me with under-inflated footballs right now, I say this – you have one man to blame for the brutal beating your franchise is taking for what is the equivalent of jaywalking in Boston.
Since he has come to New England, Belichick has given the league the double barreled bird every time the opportunity has presented itself. Whether it was not being willing to pose for the head coaches’ picture at league meetings, or silly things like listing Brady on the injury report for umpteen weeks straight as probable with a right shoulder ailment, Bill has said FU to the league at every turn possible.
Where do you think the sweatshirt with the cutoff sleeves came from? The league mandated that all the head coaches wear NFL apparel on the sidelines, so Bill fired back by making his own custom alterations.
It was cute at the time, and to this day, Patriot fans love it when their snarling, sideline prowling, pompous ass pokes at the league as only he can. However, here’s the rub. It blew up in his face when he defied a league memo about filming opposing teams’ signals at the field level in game against a guy who was in on the gig. To stick it up his former boss’ behind – who was so butt-hurt that one of his assistant coaches would actually take the head coaching job for the Jets, he wouldn’t even mention his name leading up to the game – Eric Mangini blew the whistle, and Spygate forever sullied Belichick’s name across the league.
Because of his tight relationship with Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft – the guy most responsible for getting him his job – at the time, the Pats were given the equivalent of a slap on the wrist by Roger Goodell, and going the extra mile to cement their friendship; the Commissioner destroyed the tapes before anyone else across the league could see them.
Since then, the Patriots have been a target of the rest of the owners in the NFL who felt they got off easy – especially Belichick – and they wanted their pound of flesh. The manipulation of the footballs – not unlike San Diego applying stickum with towels, or Minnesota using a heater to warm balls for better grip, both of which resulted in fines only – provided the perfect opportunity for Goodell to get back into the other owners’ good graces after he totally botched the Ray Rice suspension earlier that season.
So when word leaked out after the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts at Foxboro in January 2015 that the league had found footballs that were under-inflated at halftime, Bill went into full defense mode. He threw his quarterback under the bus, and he removed himself from the situation, because he knew if he were implicated in yet another scandal, the next sideline he would be allowed to coach on would be at Wesleyan for the men’s lacrosse team.
■ Brady also received an interesting e-mail a few hours before his Jan. 22 news conference from his close friend Will McDonough (no relation to the former Globe NFL writer), warning him that Patriots coach Bill Belichick had put the spotlight squarely on Brady.
McDonough forwarded Brady a report prepared by a Boston behavioral assessment company that explained how Brady’s answers on a radio show the morning after the game gave the impression that he had something to hide.
“You should read this prior to any interviews you do about this,” McDonough warned. “Belichick has really dropped this in your lap just now. Don’t take this lightly.”
McDonough was right, Brady has taken the brunt of the heat and blame for something that is simply sportsmanship. Now he will have to sit out the start of the season, and continue to be labeled a “cheat” because his head coach is a dink with a capital “D.”
Spit and swear all you want Pats’ fans; you can complain until the blue paint falls off of your face, but nothing is going to change. Brady will be suspended, and you have Bill to thank for it.