In case you may have forgotten, the Patriots defeated the Ravens in the AFC Divisional Round last year (using a deceptive play that is since been banned), before defeating the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game (using under-inflated footballs), before going on to win the Super Bowl against whoever.
The “Deflategate” controversy led to a fine and loss of draft picks for the Patriots and a four-game suspension for quarterback Tom Brady. It has long been speculated that the Ravens (perhaps sore after succumbing to the Pats’ trick plays) may have warned the Colts about Brady’s soft footballs.
According to an email sent from Colts equipment manager Sean Sullivan to general manager Ryan Grigson ahead of Deflategate, Ravens’ special team coach Jerry Rosburg called the Colts organization with a complaint about game balls, specifically that when Baltimore was kicking, “they were given new footballs instead of the ones that were prepared correctly.”
Sullivan then voiced his concern over the Patriots potentially playing with soft footballs, but didn’t specifically credit Rosburg with the intelligence. In fact, he wrote:
“As far as the gameballs are concerned it is well known around the league that after the Patriots gameballs are checked by the officials and brought out for game usage the ballboys for the patriots will let out some air with a ball needle because their quarterback likes a smaller football so he can grip it better, it would be great if someone would be able to check the air in the game balls as the game goes on so that they don’t get an illegal advantage.”
I’m not sure what’s the more interesting discovery, here. That the Colts were on the lookout for under-inflated footballs ahead of the championship game or that the Patriots’ ball tampering was “well known around the league.”
I mean, if it did confer on the Pats a meaningful advantage, if that kind of thing does destroy the integrity of the sport, then why not try to stop it as soon as you hear about? If it can be “well known around the league” with no one raising a fuss, well then what’s with the delayed outrage?
TL;DR Professional sports are a farce.