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DeflateGate: NFL Did Run a Sting Operation

This is the most ridiculous thing ever.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Alright, some interesting new items on DeflateGate.

Pro Football Talk noted that it was actually the Patriots who notified the league that the K balls were non-standard.

This counters Adam Schefter's morning report that the Colts Adam Vinatieri noticed the K balls were non-standard.

This makes the second "major development" to come out with regards to DeflateGate that wound up flipped on its head and with the Patriots in the right.

Fox Sports stated that the Patriots had a suspicious ball attendant taking the balls into a secret room, only for more information to reveal that 1) the ball attendant was supposed to have the balls; and 2) the room was a bathroom. Oh, and it turns out that New England found the tape and submit it to ensure they were being up front.

Now this story has ESPN saying the Patriots tried to introduce an illegal football into the game, only for more information to show 1) the Patriots were given the ball by an official; and 2) the official was stealing footballs. Oh, and the Patriots reported the suspicious activity themselves.

All of it comes together with Colts general manager Ryan Grigson's conversation with the media this afternoon with further confirmation that this is all a directionless witch hunt.

Grigson said that Indianapolis had notified the league the week before the AFC Championship game that they believed the Patriots were playing with underinflated footballs. His intention was to "level the playing field."

It turns out that deflated footballs are worth -16 points in differential, if you compare the Patriots two games against the Colts this season.

When reviewing this whole ordeal, the Patriots have been the only group to be upfront and honest every step of the way. Back before the Super Bowl, in Bill Belichick's science conference, the Patriots said their football preparation artificially inflates the football by an unintentional 1 PSI. This is the entire story and it should have been resolved back prior to the Super Bowl, but for some reason no outlet feels like using this angle.

Since that point, there has been nothing but misinformation, partial reports, and a complete lack of integrity by the league in their approach.

If the Colts had notified the league that the Patriots were breaking the rules, the league should have notified the Patriots about the complaint. Without that notice, and any evidence of a notice should have surfaced by now, the league appears to have sent their Director of Football Operations, Mike Kensil, on a sting mission to catch the Patriots supposedly breaking the rules.

It should be noted that the NFL's Head of Officiating, Dean Blandino, was not aware of any complaints from the Colts prior to the game. This means that Grigson and whoever he spoke with at the NFL kept this information away from the referees.

This approach puts the integrity of the league and the results of the AFC Championship Game in potential jeopardy; if the Colts and the NFL truly wants to "level the playing field", they would have ensured the footballs were properly inflated prior to the game and kept under better watch during the game.

Instead, the league officials:

1) Didn't have the referees keep track of the pre-game measurements.

2) Had an official steal one of the game balls and give the Patriots an unapproved replacement ball.

3) Let the Patriots play the first half of a game with a potential unfair advantage with the Super Bowl on the line.

4) Kensil inspected the footballs at haltime and had them reinflated, because who needs evidence.

5) Continued to leak partial misinformation to the media in order to push the narrative that the Patriots are a shady organization, in order to avoid a Super Bowl week investigation into domestic violence, child abuse, substance abuse, mental health issues, or any of the myriad social issues stemming from the league.

6) Dug their heads into the sand under the guise of "no comment" when all of this is going on.

This whole situation has developed into a major issue of competitive ethics and it never should have been about the Patriots. This is about the league and how much control they possess in directing the public narrative and discussion.

It would be easy to say the league is incompetent throughout this process, but that's disingenuous. They've been controlling each and every move, every step of the way.