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Browns LT Joe Thomas calls out Roger Goodell for leaving stage ‘like a rat’ during Patriots trophy presentation 02.09.17 at 10:17 am ET
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Goodell handed the Lombardi trophy to Kraft Sunday. (Photo by Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Roger Goodell handed the Lombardi trophy to Robert Kraft Sunday. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Browns left tackle Joe Thomas is unimpressed with the way Roger Goodell carried himself during the Lombardi trophy presentation Sunday.

Moments after the Patriots completed their historic 25-point comeback win over the Falcons in Super Bowl LI, Goodell took the microphone and was greeted with an onslaught of boos. The commissioner then handed the trophy over to Patriots owner Robert Kraft and quickly exited the stage. Thomas says that was cowardly.

“I especially enjoyed how over-eager Roger was to smile at all the Patriots and give them a big handshake, but then as soon as he gave them the trophy he scurried off the stage like a rat,” he told Pro Football Talk. “It was awesome.”

Thomas, who’s made the Pro Bowl in all 10 seasons of his career and has never missed a snap, was one of the Patriots’ staunchest defenders during the Deflategate saga. The left tackle called it a “witch hunt” and also expressed disappointment last summer that Tom Brady didn’t continue his legal fight. Prior to Super Bowl LI, Thomas said he was rooting for the Patriots, because he wanted Goodell to receive some comeuppance.

During the Super Bowl MVP press conference Monday, Goodell was seated next to Bill Belichick while Brady gave his acceptance speech. When Belichick took the podium, however, Brady didn’t take his place next to commissioner. Instead, he left.

Goodell may have acted cordially towards the Patriots this weekend, but it’s apparent the stench of Deflategate still lingers over him.

Read More: Deflategate, joe thomas, New England Patriots, Roger Goodell
Deflategate is now one big joke 02.07.17 at 5:04 pm ET
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“Yankees suck!” chants still ring throughout Fenway Park, but the passion is largely gone. After going 13 years between playoff series, the rivalry is on life support. Right now, hating the Yankees is just a part of Red Sox lore –– like the Curse of the Bambino or eating a Fenway Frank.

Deflategate is heading in that direction.

Andrew Belsky (left) says the Patriots parade was "one last hurrah" of Goodell hate. (Photo by WEEI.com)

Andrew Belsky (left) says the Patriots parade was “one last hurrah” of Goodell hate. (Photo by WEEI.com)

At the Patriots parade Tuesday, an estimated 1 million people took to the streets of Boston on a frigid and damp day, cheering on the five-time Super Bowl champions. It seemed like most of them came with anti-Roger Goodell paraphernalia, from shirts that say the commissioner sits when he pees to signs that depict him with an enlarged, Pinochio-like nose. A group of kids from Needham even took the day off from school to stand on Boylston Street and hurl epithets towards him.

“F*** Goodell!,” they screamed, while their chaperon looked on proudly.

In February 2017, more than two years after the start of the Deflategate saga, hating Goodell is a rite of passage for Patriots fans. It’s unlikely the high schoolers who stormed the city wearing timberland boots, sweatpants and Tom Brady jerseys –– an apparent fashion staple of Patriots Nation –– have read one page of Ted Wells’ report. But they know Brady got hosed, and that’s good enough for them.

In the lead-up to Super Bowl LI, a lot of attention was paid to how the Patriots would receive Goodell during the Lombardi Trophy presentation. But following a historic 25-point comeback, the ceremony became an afterthought. Goodell was booed mercilessly while he handed Robert Kraft the trophy, but the Patriots owner bit his tongue –– mostly.

“Two years ago, we won our fourth Super Bowl down in Arizona,” he said. “I told our fans that was the sweetest one of all. But a lot has transpired during the last two years. I don’t think that needs any explanation.”

At the Super Bowl MVP ceremony Monday, Goodell praised Brady, calling him “maybe one of the greatest players of all-time.” The two took a picture together and then Brady fielded questions. There wasn’t any palpable tension, or even a hint of animosity.

That doesn’t mean the Patriots haven’t taken part in some good old fashioned trolling over the last couple of days. Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia wore a Goodell clown shirt when he walked off the team plane in Boston Monday and Danny Amendola sported a “Fire Goodell” hat at the parade. There’s also Brady’s Shields MRI commercial, which concludes with him telling a nurse “Roger that” after she says she’s going to find a locker to accommodate his five Super Bowl rings.

But on the whole, the barbs seem more playful than malicious. When you win, it’s a lot easier to laugh.

Josh Quackenbush praised Brady and took a shot at Goodell in the same sign. (Photo by WEEI.com)

Josh Quackenbush praised Brady and took a shot at Goodell in the same sign. (Photo by WEEI.com)

“Yeah, I’m sick of hearing about it,” said Brandon McCullock, whose friend was brandishing a Brady GOAT sign with the words, “Roger that,” below it. “I think winning was a good enough f— you to the league. I’m tired of talking about it.”

Boston Marathon bombing hero Carlos Arredondo also said he is ready to turn the page on deflated footballs.

“Ready to move on. It’s time for the next season,” he said.

The spirit of Deflategate may never die. “Fire Goodell” merchandise will likely be omnipresent around Gillette Stadium next season and fans will probably look to deride the commissioner whenever they can. It’s fun to root against a villain.

But the venom is gone. Much like when the Red Sox came back from a 3-0 deficit and bested the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, the Patriots have vanquished their antagonist. Goodell is no longer a threat. He’s a caricature.

“It’s over. Tomorrow is a new day,” said Andrew Belsky, while standing next to his homemade sign that shows Goodell with an outstretched nose. “This is one last hurrah.”

Read More: Deflategate, New England Patriots,
A Deflategate movie is coming out –– and it has nothing to do with deflated footballs 02.03.17 at 3:46 pm ET
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There’s a documentary coming out about Deflategate. It has nothing to do with deflated footballs.

Director Julie Marron is nearing completion of the film, “Four Games in Fall: The Genius Marking of Deflategate.” The documentary takes a look at some of the larger themes of the scandal, including how the NFL manipulated the media to spread false information, such as ESPN’s report about 11 of 12 Patriots footballs being 2 PSI below the legal limit.

Tom Brady served his Deflategate suspension this season, almost two years after the alleged violation.

Tom Brady served his Deflategate suspension this season, almost two years after the alleged violation. (Screenshot via Lemon Martini Productions)

“We’re exploring three things in this film: manipulation of the media, misrepresentation of science, and abuse and perversion of the legal system,” Marron said. “Those are the things we’re really looking at. On the surface you have a very trivial event that just involves an equipment violation, and yet, you have this very serious and concerted event that was made on the part of one of the parties to really manipulate the media, to cement public opinion by leaking misinformation and not allowing correct information to get out there, and then kind of switching it up and focusing on other types of things where they can kind of craft the story in a way that’s to their advantage. So to me, this is a really fascinating story.”

Deflategate first caught Marron’s eye when the NFL announced it was hiring attorney Ted Wells and the research firm Exponent to investigate the matter. An executive in corporate strategy, Marron is well aware of Exponent’s practices. The company once published tobacco industry-backed studies that deny the existence of second-hand smoke.

“I’m very familiar with the kind of work they do in terms of product liability and industry-sponsored clients,” she said. “So for me, that was a real eye-opener. I thought it was really intriguing that they had been brought in to examine allegations of deflated footballs. That, to me, seemed preposterous –– and intriguing.”

Using Exponent’s expertise, Wells concluded it was “more probable than not” that Tom Brady was aware of the Patriots’ illegally deflated footballs in the 2015 AFC championship game. But that finding goes against scientific consensus. A litany of independent scientists, including MIT’s Dr. John Leonhard, who Marron interviewed for the film, don’t believe there was any wrongdoing. The footballs, they say, naturally lost air pressure in the cold weather –– much like tires.

In addition to Dr. Leonhard, Marron speaks Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann, Barstool Sports’ Jerry Thornton and a litany of others who closely followed the Deflategate saga. Even though the scandal is two years old, it was still one of the top storylines during Super Bowl week in Houston. Marron says the NFL is fortunate for that.

“Obviously, it’s been a really useful tool for the NFL in terms of deflecting attention away from more important issues facing the league,” she said. “The thing about the concussion is, this is an existential threat to the organization. The fact that the NFL supported faulty research and lied to the public about the facts of concussions –– that’s scientific misconduct. They have these dubious research findings that are now out in the public. That, to me, is phenomenal. Certainly Deflategate has been a really useful tool to deflect attention away from serious issues facing the league and facing human beings.”

Read More: Deflategate,
Jonathan Kraft on Kirk & Callahan: I have no respect for the way Deflategate was handled at 9:06 am ET
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Patriots president Jonathan Kraft says he supports Roger Goodell as commissioner of the NFL, but it’s apparent he’s still bitter over the way Deflategate unfolded.

In an interview with Kirk & Callahan Friday, Kraft lambasted the way the league conducted the investigation.

“I and our organization have been pretty clear that the whole air pressure situation –– from the night of the AFC championship game through when it finally ended with the appeals court –– it wasn’t well-handled and was poorly executed and was a waste of time, energy and resources,” he said. “I don’t have respect for the way that process was handled.”

Though the Krafts have been vocal about their unhappiness with Deflategate –– Robert Kraft said recently he thinks Goodell received “bad advice” –– some fans have been critical about their seeming cordial relationship with the commissioner. When the Patriots played the Giants at MetLife Stadium last season, for example, Kraft was spotted hugging Goodell on the sidelines. He told K&C the embrace was about a personal matter.

“That weekend was right after the Paris Bombings and we had been talking about –– it becomes a personal story. That wasn’t a salutation. That had to do with something different. I’ll leave it at that,” he said.

Two of the unanswered questions about the Deflategate saga are the statuses of Jim McNally and John Jastremski, the two low-level Patriots employees who were implicated in the scandal. Kraft wouldn’t confirm or deny their employment with the team. Instead, he said he regrets they got dragged into it.

“As I described, people who didn’t want to be in the spotlight were put in the spotlight,” he said. “People that weren’t looking to be in the spotlight, looking to have themselves made public in lots of ways. That was one of the many bad parts of what I believe was a waste of energy, time and resources.”

Though the Patriots made McNally and Jastremski available at the onset of the Deflategate investigation, they didn’t allow the NFL to conduct multiple followup interviews with them. Kraft defended that decision, saying the team viewed it as unnecessary.

“We cooperated with them that first week,” he said. “We made witnesses available to them, we made electronic devices available to them. I think we cooperated. Did we not make people available a fifth time after we got a letter asking to talk to those people? Yeah, because we were sick of the time-drain on our organization.”

Outside of Deflategate, the other big topic surrounding the Patriots this week has been their relationship with Donald Trump. Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the Krafts are all friends with the President, with the Krafts even attending his inauguration two weeks ago. Kraft told K&C he feels indebted to Trump for his friendship over the years.

“He was personally critically [helpful] to my father’s recovery after my mother [passed away]. I’ll be forever grateful for that,” he said. “He’s been a close personal friend for a long time prior. Being loyal in life, I think, is a very important character trait. That’s something that’s important to our family and me personally.”

TO LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE JONATHAN KRAFT INTERVIEW, CLICK HERE

Read More: Deflategate, Donald Trump, jonathan kraft, New England Patriots
Thanks to Deflategate, Roger Goodell gets to ignore NFL’s concussion crisis at Super Bowl 02.02.17 at 8:11 pm ET
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At his annual pre-Super Bowl press conference Wednesday, Roger Goodell was asked five questions about Deflategate, a scandal about footballs that lost air pressure in cold weather. He didn’t receive any queries about the NFL’s concussion crisis, which kills more ex-players each year.

That’s a win for the commissioner.

Roger Goodell wasn't one question about concussions Wednesday.

Roger Goodell wasn’t asked one question about concussions Wednesday. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

Deflategate wasn’t spawned to distract from the issue of brain trauma, but it’s an unintended result of the interminable saga. The more time that’s spent talking about Tom Brady’s deflated footballs, the less time there is to delve into the recent tragic death of former Patriots running back Kevin Turner. CTE withered Turner’s body away to nothing, much like ALS would.

The NFL’s decades-long negligence towards treating head injuries came to the forefront three years ago, when PBS released its Frontline documentary, League of Denial. The film chronicles the work of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the first neurosurgeon who discovered CTE in an NFL player, former Steelers lineman Mike Webster.

As part of its effort to obfuscate concussion research, the NFL pressured Omalu to not go public with his findings. Last year, the New York Times compared the NFL’s attempts to downplay head injuries to that of the tobacco industry. An investigation found the two businesses shared lobbyists, lawyers and consultants.

These days, there’s no downplaying the link between football and brain trauma. Of the 96 deceased former NFL players whose brains have been tested at Boston University, 92 of them had confirmed cases of CTE. But that doesn’t mean Goodell hasn’t tried.

During his pre-Super Bowl presser last year, Goodell said there’s no more risk in playing football than sitting on the couch. The tone-deaf comment came just two days after Hall of Fame quarterback Ken Stabler was posthumously diagnosed with CTE.

Statements like those make it difficult to take the NFL seriously when it comes to combating brain trauma. Yes, the league deserves credit for donating $100 million to concussion research last fall. But given its checkered history, the NFL must always be looked at with suspicion. That’s why the recent report about concussions being down 11.3 percent this season shouldn’t be taken at face value. It’s doubtful that every concussion is being reported. Just three weeks ago, the Dolphins violated protocol when they didn’t remove Matt Moore from their playoff game against the Steelers after he had suffered a vicious hit to the head. It’s likely those kinds of incidents happen on a weekly basis. But unless it’s a quarterback or another skill position player, few viewers notice.

It’s debatable how much football fans care about the concussion epidemic. Participation in youth football is down 14 percent from its high in 2009, but up until this year, NFL ratings continued to soar. And though viewership decreased in 2016, the presidential race and a lack of quality games were probably the main reasons why. Ratings rebounded after the election was over.

The lack of interest in the film Concussion, which flopped at the box office, indicates there’s apathy surrounding the issue of brain trauma and football. Deflategate, meanwhile, unfolded like a celebrity trail. Tom Brady, the most famous football player in the world who plays for the most hated team, was accused of cheating. From a sexiness standpoint, the two stories don’t compare.

That’s why Goodell is still answering Deflategate questions. And he probably doesn’t mind, either. He won in the courts and reaffirmed his unilateral disciplinary power. It likely would’ve made him much more uncomfortable if Boston sportswriters fired off questions about Turner. There’s no dispute about the facts there: Turner died because he played football. Goodell can’t hide behind a court ruling.

The drama of Deflategate adds intrigue to Super Bowl week. Talking about dead football players would ruin the party.

Read More: Concussions, Deflategate, Roger Goodell,
New Jersey sports columnist thinks Patriots fans should get over Deflategate at 12:30 pm ET
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A throng of Boston reporters peppered Roger Goodell with questions about Deflategate at his annual pre-Super Bowl press conference Wednesday. One New Jersey sports columnist wasn’t amused.

In a piece for NJ.com, Steve Politi chastises Boston media members for their fixation on Deflategate. He says it’s time to move on.

“So what is it going to take, Boston? If Roger Goodell agrees not only to visit Foxboro next season, but sit in a dunking booth at the 50-yard line for a couple hours before the season opener, would that do it?,” he writes.

In an ironic twist, Deflategate may actually wind up benefitting the Patriots. It didn’t impede them this season, considering they went 3-1 during Tom Brady’s absence and are back in the Super Bowl. And given how well Jimmy Garoppolo played when he was filling in for Brady, the Patriots could trade him for a bounty of draft picks this offseason. A big haul for Garoppolo would likely replace the first-round pick they lost last year –– and then some.

All of this success, Polito says, should be enough to satisfy Patriots fans.

“I think I’m beginning to understand why a man sitting in the White House but still worried about the crowd size at his inauguration is a loyal Patriots fan,” he writes. “The people who follow this team want to have their cake and eat it too and smash it the smug face of you-know-who.”

From a legal standpoint, Deflategate is a settled matter. But outside of anecdotal evidence such as text messages between low-level Patriots employees, there’s still nothing that proves Brady conspired to illegally deflate footballs. In fact, the scientific community says the balls naturally lost air pressure.

Maybe the greatest quarterback in league history was suspended four games for something he almost certainly didn’t do it. Goodell, the man who smeared Brady’s reputation throughout the nearly 18-month scandal, will be in the building when he plays in the Super Bowl Sunday. The following day, he might even have to hand Brady the Super Bowl MVP trophy. If Polito can’t see the allure of that story, and why sports writers would ask about it, perhaps he should find a different line of work.

Also, Goodell’s two-year absence from Foxboro has only perpetuated the saga. Two of the five Deflategate-related questions he received Wednesday were about that very topic. Until Goodell returns to Gillette Stadium, the final chapter of this interminable story will still be unwritten.

Read More: Deflategate,
Roger Goodell used a kid reporter as a human shield at embarrassing Super Bowl press conference 02.01.17 at 5:29 pm ET
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Roger Goodell used a kid reporter as a human shield at his annual Super Bowl press conference Wednesday. That’s how well the afternoon went for him.

It didn’t take long for the commissioner to start reeling. The third question he received came from the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin, who asked him if he regrets the way Deflategate was handled.

“No,” Goodell said. “We had a violation. We went through a process. We applied the discipline in accordance with our process. It was litigated, as you know, expansively, and validated by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.”

A couple of minutes later, the Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy followed up with a question about Goodell’s two-year absence from Gillette Stadium. The commissioner seemed annoyed, but still managed to answer calmly.

“I would tell you that it’s not awkward at all for me. We have a job to do,” he said. “We do our job. As I said, there was a violation. We applied a process and discipline and we came to the conclusion that was supported by the facts and by the courts.

Then Comcast SportsNet’s Tom E. Curran came with a fact-check. The appeals court, contrary to Goodell’s previous statements, didn’t uphold the NFL’s investigation. Instead, it confirmed his unilateral disciplinary power in the CBA.

Now Goodell appeared to be ticked.

“Tom, if you look at the Second Circuit Court, the decision they said is there were compelling, yet overwhelming facts here. That’s the point I just made,” he said.

Following an exchange about whether Goodell thinks there’s been an erosion of trust in the league –– shockingly, he doesn’t –– the commissioner tapped out. He called on the NFL’s “Play 60 Super Kid,” a seventh-grader named Sophie.

In comparison to previous years, Wednesday’s affair was understated. Goodell appeared lethargic, offering some dry remarks about the Super Bowl at the start of the press conference instead of his usual State of the League address. It was also moved up from its usual Friday afternoon time slot. Without a looming scandal, perhaps Goodell didn’t feel like there was any news he needed to bury.

Thanks to Donald Trump’s chaotic candidacy, and now presidency, the NFL is currently out of the spotlight. The league’s domestic violence crisis has faded to the background, despite Goodell’s disastrous handling of the Josh Brown situation earlier this season. Brown, who admitted to serially abusing his wife in journal entries, was only suspended one game following a domestic violence arrest. The former Giants kicker was placed on paid leave after his journal was publicized.

But since there was no video of Brown assaulting his wife, the story disappeared. Same with the concussion epidemic. Last week, the NFL claimed the number of reported concussions dropped by 11.3 percent in 2016. But there were no questions on that data, even though several teams appeared to violate concussion protocol this season. The most recent example came three weeks ago, when the Dolphins left quarterback Matt Moore in a game against the Steelers after he had suffered a brutal hit in their wild card matchup.

Painkiller abuse also wasn’t a topic, even though recently released emails between members of the Falcons brass from 2010 show they were concerned about players excessively taking opioids. Last summer, a federal judge green-lighted a lawsuit from more than 1,500 ex-players that says NFL coaches and employees recklessly pushed painkillers on them.

The only heat Goodell faced, outside of a couple of inquiries about the Chargers leaving San Diego, came from a throng of Boston reporters still obsessed with Deflategate. Towards the end of the proceedings, a reporter from WPRI Providence ask him if he had spoken to Tom Brady this season. Back on his toes, Goodell refused to comment, saying he doesn’t talk about private conversations with players. Shortly thereafter, the Boston Herald’s Tom Schattuck brought up the edited Patriots transcripts from Media Night, which omitted mentions of Donald Trump and Goodell. The commish pleaded ignorance, much like he did with the Barstool credentials ban.

“I am not aware of anything being deleted from transcripts or anything else,” he said. “I must tell you, that’s one thing I’m not responsible for around here is the transcription.”

Unfortunately for Goodell, Sophie couldn’t offer him another lifeline. Reporters are only granted one question.

Read More: Concussions, Deflategate, Falcons, patriots
Desperate for ratings, Fox Sports 1 hosts are saying crazy things about the Patriots 01.26.17 at 12:39 pm ET
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Fox Sports 1 may not be able to catch ESPN in the ratings, but it can usurp the WorldWide Leader in one category: awful hot takes about the Patriots.

Granted, that’s a difficult task. ESPN is responsible for turning Deflategate into a national scandal, thanks to Chris Mortensen’s false report about 11 of 12 Patriots footballs being deflated by two pounds of air. But Fox Sports 1 hosts who are desperate for ratings and relevancy are giving the folks in Bristol, Conn. a run for their money.

On Wednesday, sportswriter Rob Parker was a guest on Skip Bayless’ Undisputed alongside Eric Mangini and Shannon Sharpe. Previously, Parker’s most asinine statement about the Patriots came on the WEEI airwaves, when he said Tom Brady should’ve been suspended eight games for his alleged role in the Deflategate saga. But that takes a backseat to his latest anti-Brady screed, which included a shot at Bostonians for their apparent ignorance about the Tea Party:

“Up in there in Boston, let’s just be honest: it’s a cult. People up there are drinking the Kool-Aid,” he said. “You can’t get people in Boston to even admit that Native Americans had nothing to do with the Boston Tea Party. They don’t want to hear it. Same thing with Tom Brady. They will not acknowledge, accept no matter what goes down with what the Patriots have done, with what Tom Brady has done. I think that Tom Brady, and I’ve said this before, should be on par with like a Derek Jeter, who is a guy who was a great champion, won, had a great career, no blemishes. Tom Brady’s not in that boat anymore. And I do believe at some point, some disgruntled employee is going to write a tell-all book down the road and we’ll find out … what went on behind the scenes, what Tom Brady knew — Spygate, Deflategate, all of that. And Tom Brady will end up being Lance Armstrong without the bicycle.”

Outside of a bewildered “what?” from Bayless after the Tea Party comment, Parker’s rant was uninterrupted. So let’s examine these claims one-by-one:

Bostonians don’t acknowledge that Native Americans were involved in Tea Party: This is accurate, because Native Americans weren’t involved in the Boston Tea Party. Some demonstrators disguised themselves as Native Americans to hide their identities and send a message to the British. Parker should read a history book, or at least check out Wikipedia.

Tom Brady will end up being Lance Armstrong without the bicycle: In addition to being the ringleader of the most successful doping program in cycling history, Armstrong buried at least dozens of former associates and opponents in his selfish quest to preserve his own reputation. The science says Brady didn’t even play with unusually deflated footballs during the 2015 AFC championship game. Unless Parker knows about scandals that haven’t come to light yet, this is a reach of incredible proportions.

Despite receiving a suffocating amount of promotion during Fox’s NFL telecasts, First Take owns a 4:1 viewership edge over Undisputed. Recently, a rerun of of M*A*SH* from 1973 drew 232,000 more viewers in the same day and time-slot than Bayless’ shout fest.

While those numbers are depressing, Colin Cowherd would kill for an audience like that. Last week, he said Brady was playing for his job in the AFC championship against Pittsburgh.

“If Pittsburgh wins this game and Brady is average, you’re darn right [Robert] Kraft and [Bill] Belichick are having that, ‘Let’s have lunch and talk,’” he said.

If these tirades don’t move the needle, perhaps an FS1 personality will light him or herself on fire in Houston next week. We’re almost at that point.

Read More: Colin Cowherd, Deflategate, New England Patriots, Rob Parker
Atlanta-Journal Constitution published maybe the worst Deflategate article ever 01.25.17 at 1:50 pm ET
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Accuracy is the cardinal rule of journalism, except when it comes to writing about Deflategate. For some reason, when the topic turns to deflated footballs, it’s acceptable to parrot lies and spread misinformation. The disturbing trend continues to this day.

Wednesday, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution answered the question nobody is asking: What should we tell our kids about Deflategate? The ensuing column might be the worst collection of words ever written about the scandal, which is an incredible feat. It includes the greatest hits of Deflategate propaganda, beginning with the implication that the Patriots are the only team in the history of the NFL to have played with under-inflated footballs.

In the first subsection of the article, the author of the piece condenses the backstory of Deflategate to five paragraphs. There’s a lie in the third sentence. It’s highlighted for your convenience:

“New England coach Bill Belichick denied any knowledge of the deflated footballs. He explained that normal use and air conditions during the game may have caused the air leakage (despite it only affecting Patriots footballs).”

Some of the Colts’ footballs, of course, were also under-inflated. According to the halftime measurements, which were published in Ted Wells’ 243-page report, three of the four Colts’ balls were below the 12.5 PSI threshold on one of the two gages. It would be nice to know the air pressure of all the Colts’ footballs, but the Wells report says the testing was stopped due to time constraints.

It’s worth noting the average PSI of the Patriots’ balls is lower than the Colts’, but that’s not useful, because we don’t know what their air pressure level was when the game started. NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino says no readings exist.

Since the mistruth about only the Patriots playing with deflated footballs appears in the third sentence, it’s fair to say the author didn’t even peruse the Wells report. The column only gets worse from there:

For your kid: NFL footballs have to be a certain size. The Patriots won a game (and maybe more) with footballs that weren’t regulation size and that is not fair.”

That’s a nice summarization, except when the Steelers were caught playing with under-inflated footballs this season, the league didn’t pursue an investigation. If deflating footballs is unfair, then it’s laughable the Steelers didn’t even get scrutinized, never mind penalized.

Later on, when the author is recapping the NFL’s findings, he or she makes reference to Patriots fans and their “Deflategate conspiracy theories.” But the truth is, if you believe Tom Brady deflated footballs, you’re the conspiracy theorist. The scientific community says the balls naturally lost air pressure in cold weather. Their conclusions are supported by the Ideal Gas Law. People who argue against those facts point to text messages between low-level Patriots employees, John Jastremski and Jim McNally, in which McNally calls himself the “deflator.” Oh, and McNally went to the bathroom with the footballs for 90 seconds before the game, too. Don’t forget that.

Siding with anecdotal text messages and evidence of a bathroom trip over scientific consensus is insanity, but that’s the conventional wisdom. At the end of the piece, the author reaffirms the Patriots cheated, then hyperlinks to a two-year old article in the Federalist about how Deflategate could’ve been avoided if Brady had just apologized:

“The general conclusion is the team cheated and won, and they can’t escape the label. This is why two years later we’re still talking about Deflategate.

Another is the nearly 18-month legal wrangle could have been avoided:

If either man would have taken responsibility (the fact that they were in violation of league rules isn’t in dispute) or simply said “sorry” this episode would have been put to rest.”

That’s nice, but it discounts one little detail: Brady almost certainly didn’t do it. Why would anybody apologize if they’re in the right?

In recent months, there has been a moratorium on Deflategate-related articles. But with the Patriots returning to the Super Bowl, the trolls will be back in full force. Consider this AJC piece a preview of the madness to come.

Read More: Deflategate, New England Patriots,
Why Roger Goodell doesn’t care if Patriots win Super Bowl 01.23.17 at 4:36 pm ET
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Roger Goodell won't be able to dodge the Patriots in the Super Bowl. (Jason Getz/USA Today Sports)

Roger Goodell won’t be able to dodge the Patriots in the Super Bowl. (Jason Getz/USA Today Sports)

It probably doesn’t make a difference to Roger Goodell whether the Patriots win the Super Bowl. For him, Deflategate is ancient history. He won a long time ago.

When owner Robert Kraft grabbed the microphone Sunday following his team’s blowout victory over the Steelers in the AFC championship game, he seemingly spoke for every aggrieved Patriots fan around the world.

“For a number of reasons, all of you in this stadium understand how big this win was,” Kraft told a rabid crowd in Foxboro.

It wasn’t difficult to connect the dots. Almost two years ago to the date, the NFL caught the Patriots playing with slightly under inflated footballs against the Colts. Over the next year-and-a-half, even when the science said there was no wrongdoing, Goodell smeared Tom Brady’s character and imposed draconian penalties on the team –– including suspending Brady for four games. Now, in two weeks, Goodell may be in the building when Brady is handed the Lombardi Trophy. Talk about sweet revenge.

Once a regular visitor to Gillette Stadium, Goodell has avoided it since Deflategate started. He’s been in Atlanta for the last two weeks closing down the Georgia Dome, one of the most unremarkable venues in professional football.

It’s unclear whose decision it is to keep Goodell in hiding. According to Comcast SportsNet’s Tom E. Curran, Goodell would’ve been at the AFC championship game Sunday if he had gotten his way. So perhaps somebody else in the league office, or the Krafts themselves, are making the call. But then again, it’s hard to believe that Goodell would allow other people to dictate his schedule. After all, this is guy who doesn’t permit his staffers to eat pizza until he gets the first slice.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Deflategate, New England Patriots, Roger Goodell