BOSTON (CBS) –  I’m a big Patriots fan and have been since I was a child, but I do not pray to the altar of Bill Belichick.

I don’t own Patriots footie pajamas, even though I bet they’re really comfortable. And I haven’t drank the Patriots Kool-Aid, even though I bet it tastes delicious.

READ MORE: 11-Year-Old Girl Struck By School Bus, Seriously Injured In Braintree

I’m a (mostly) reasonable fan, and have the ability to look at my team objectively.

And while the matter of pounds per square inch in footballs seems trivial (the only time in my life I’ve cared about pressurized air is for my car tires and my Super Soakers), I’m finding it harder and harder to defend the Patriots on matters like this.

The NFL is investigating the Patriots using for under-inflated footballs in the AFC Championship game against the Colts, a game in which they won 45-7, and so far the league’s early findings aren’t good.

A report late last night states that 11 of the team’s 12 game footballs weren’t up to the required PSI level, indicating it’s certainly no coincidence.

As has been noted by many already, New England could have beaten Indianapolis with 25-pound medicine balls, let alone balls that weren’t the right weight. The Colts got their asses kicked, and there’s no denying which team was better Sunday night — which makes it all the more maddening the Patriots would have to resort to these tactics.

The life of a Patriots fan is not much different from a defense lawyer, or even a politician.

After something bad happens you try to compartmentalize everything and search for the talking points to explain your way out of a bad situation.

But your Honor! My client misinterpreted the rules!

Everyone does it! It’s not a big deal!

READ MORE: Group Raising Money To Send Boy With Leukemia To Disney World

I’m a firm believer that when there’s smoke there’s fire, and the truth always lies somewhere in the middle.

Are the Patriots dirty, rotten scoundrels that owe all of their success to cheating? No.

Do the Patriots sometimes operate in the gray areas and try to squeeze every last nuance and advantage out of the NFL rulebook? Yes.

Should the Patriots have their AFC Championship and spot in the Super Bowl vacated like Mike Wilbon recently suggested on ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption? No.

Does Jerry Rice have a point when he called the Patriots cheaters on Twitter? Yes. Is the Hall of Fame wide receiver a hypocrite for laying that claim when his own team was caught circumventing the salary cap? Absolutely.

Is doctoring footballs a common practice in the NFL? Yes.

Do I feel like the Patriots are being persecuted for DeflateGate simply for the fact that they’re the Patriots? One hundred percent — former NFL supervisor of officials Jim Daopoulos said as much Tuesday afternoon on Felger & Massarotti.

Felger & Mazz have argued for some time that Tom Brady and Bill Belichick need at least one more ring to solidify their legacy and finally put the stink of Spygate behind them.

But the fact of the matter, and I’m realizing this more so now than ever before, is that it won’t matter how many Super Bowls they win, because perception is reality and haters gonna hate.

Patriots fans — I’m sorry — but we’ll never win that barroom argument over which team had the best dynasty. Not anymore. And we have no one to blame but the Patriots themselves.

MORE NEWS: Newton To Keep School Mask Mandate In Effect After October 1

Read more from Andrew Celani by clicking here, or find him on Twitter @CelaniSays