The scandal that wouldn't die

Kyle Riviere
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere.

Back in February, I was desperately hoping that this ridiculous Patriots scandal would fade away into oblivion, but my hopes have been deflated.

Over three months have passed, and we're back to staring down "Deflategate," one of the dumbest scandals in sports history.

After the AFC Championship Game, suspicions arose that the Patriots were using footballs that may have been deflated. It was later found that almost all of their game balls were in fact below the league's minimum air requirement.

It gave way to a 24-hour news cycle that centered around footballs. Seriously, hard news organizations were actually spending time taking about footballs.

There were people saying Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick should be suspended for the Super Bowl. Some wanted them suspended for the entire 2015-16 season.

Their press conferences were shown live. You'd swear it was President Kennedy having his emergency announcement to the American people during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The NFL hired investigator Ted Wells to dig into the situation. He evidently did a thorough job because of the three months it took to produce results, but the results weren't exactly thorough.

His report was not definitive. It basically said that Brady and the Patriots most likely knew about the balls being deflated, but we don't know for sure.

That was enough for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to move on because hey, he gutted the Saints back in 2012 for "Bountygate"--even though he had no real evidence implicating them.

Goodell suspended Brady for four games, fined the team $1 million and took away two of their draft picks.

There were many people that were actually saying that the punishment was too light. They wanted Brady to be suspended for at least eight games. Some wanted him gone for the entire season.

Ever since, Brady has appealed the ruling, and there is even talk of him suing the NFL.

I said it when news of this Deflategate nonsense first broke and I'll say it again now, this is such a petty and insignificant scandal. Is it against the rules? Yes. Is it really serious enough to warrant suspensions and the omission of draft picks? No.

Right away, the NFL should have given out some fines and moved on. That's all this is worth, a few fines.

These magical deflated balls had zero impact on the outcome of the AFC Championship Game. What, they helped the Patriots beat the Colts by 38 instead of 28?

What did the deflated balls have to do with the Patriots dominating the line of scrimmage or the Colts' receivers not being able to get open?

ESPN even did their Sports Science segment during the week, and they came to the conclusion that deflated balls are actually harder to throw accurately than regulation balls.

So, seriously, other than being able to grip the balls a little better in the cold, what big advantage did these deflated balls give Brady and the Patriots? Enough of an advantage for a four-game suspension? Please.

I think most of the heat New England has gotten over this has been from habitual Patriot haters.

There are a lot of them throughout the country. I'm not one of them. I'm an unbiased onlooker. And looking at this thing objectionably, I just think all of the public outrage and Goodell's punishment far exceed the crime.

What's even more disturbing to me is that many people are now questioning Brady's legacy. Many have branded him a "cheater" and have said that his first-ballet Hall of Fame career is "tarnished."

I've heard columnist Rob Parker compare Brady to Alex Rodriguez, an admitted steroid user that got busted taking the juice on two different occasions.

I think it's an incredibly asinine notion.

Last time I checked, there weren't any deflated balls in this year's Super Bowl when Brady led the Patriots back from 10 down in the fourth quarter to beat the Seahawks and their top-ranked defense.

We never heard of any complaints or accusations of deflated balls when he won his three other Super Bowls--two of which he led late game-winning drives.

You can go ahead and belittle the career of a man that has won four titles and three Super Bowl MVPs.

You can downplay a man that is a couple of miracle plays away from having six rings. You can downplay a man that won three titles with a bunch of no-name receivers. You can do it all because he was throwing around a slightly-deflated ball in a 45-7 slaughter of the Colts.

Go ahead, but I think it's all a bunch of hot air.