BOSTON (CBS) — On this episode of “As The DeflateGate Turns” …
Yes, Thursday marks Day 32 of the never-ending saga known as “DeflateGate,” and there were some developments. No, they don’t match up to Wednesday’s bananas back-and-forth, ESPN-on-ESPN crime, but they are nevertheless significant (relatively speaking).
The Colts Alerted The NFL In The Days Leading Up To The AFC Championship Game That The Patriots Might Use Underinflated Footballs
Colts general manager Ryan Grigson spoke to the media at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis on Thursday, and he admitted that the Colts had a hunch that the Patriots liked to use underinflated footballs. So, the Colts told the NFL to be on alert for such an infraction during the AFC Championship Game.
The Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe has Grigson’s quote: “Earlier that week prior to the AFC Championship Game, we notified the league about our concern. We went into the game. We had some issues, but we’re going to do what we can and that’s participate with the league in the investigation and wait until the Wells report comes out. We really have no other recourse but to wait until that investigation comes about. … We had concerns just like any general manager would do, wants their team to play on a level playing field. We took the proper steps to try to ensure that. It’s up to the league to make sure that happens. If the rules were broken, we’ll see. If not, that’s what the investigation is for. But again, we’re just doing our jobs and trying to ensure we give our team the best chance to win in a level playing field.”
Grigson responded to all related questions on the matter by deferring to the ongoing investigation by Ted Wells.
Grigson’s admission raises two key questions. First, what made the Colts believe the Patriots used underinflated footballs? Were they tipped off by the Ravens, as some have suggested, or did they first notice it back in their November matchup in Indy, as others have said?
The bigger question, though, is this: What did the NFL do after the Colts alerted them to this concern?
If the NFL did nothing and instead operated on “high alert” during the game, was it a sting operation? Did the league (namely, Mike Kensil) want to catch the Patriots in the midst of some felonious behavior instead of issuing a warning ahead of time? And if it’s the former, wouldn’t the cluster that Adam Schefter reported this week make the NFL look awfully bad in this whole thing?
Which brings us to the second revelation from Thursday.
The Patriots Actually Alerted Officials To Some Suspicious Activity Involving The Footballs During The AFC Championship Game
The leaks continue to spring from the league’s investigation, with this one coming from Pro Football Talk.
The website reported that the NFL employee who got caught stealing balls and selling them for personal profit is named Scott Miller. PFT explained that when it comes time to use a special teams ball, the kickers prefer the “K1” ball, which is really just the kicking ball which they were able to manipulate to their liking the best they could in their limited time with the ball before the game.
So after the Patriots scored the game’s first touchdown — a 1-yard run by LeGarrette Blount — the Patriots noticed that the K1 ball was not brought out for the PAT. So the Patriots asked the officials where the K1 ball went, and they began tracking it down. At that point, Miller realized people were onto him, so he brought the ball back to the field area.
“Video does not exist of Miller giving the football he had taken to [Patriots employee Jim] McNally, but it’s possible to infer that Miller gave the same football to McNally that McNally then tried to give to the game officials,” Mike Florio wrote.
McNally, you’ll remember, is the man who was vilified on Wednesday due to a premature and incomplete Outside The Lines report, only to be saved later in the day by Schefter. Like Florio noted, there’s apparently no video evidence connecting Miller to McNally, but it’s not too difficult to connect A to B in this case.
This bit of news, just like Grigson’s comments, raise questions. Apparently, Miller had been stealing balls to sell for his own personal profit for quite some time. Was the league aware of this? If so, why was he working the AFC Championship Game, when officials were already on high alert due to the Colts’ telling the league about the Patriots?
And if the Patriots had tampered with the footballs, why would they alert the officials to some foul play during the game?
Oh, and one more — how much more DeflateGate can the world take? Based on the past few days and weeks, the soap opera may never end.