It all started with a rumor; one that reached the Indianapolis Colts’ front office led by general manager Ryan Grigson: The New England Patriots might illegally tamper with the air pressure inside footballs. Just prior to his team’s 2014 AFC Championship showdown with the Patriots, Grigson forwarded this rumor to the NFL front office and the scandal that would eventually become Deflategate was underway.
What followed, of course, is well known (even though the facts behind it too often are not): While the league’s "independent" $5 million investigation was unable to proof that the Patriots did indeed manipulate footballs – because science – NFL commissioner Roger Goodell still harshly punished both the team and quarterback Tom Brady.
However, neither the media circus of Deflategate first becoming a major storyline nor Brady’s four game suspension or any "different" air pressure levels inside New England’s footballs did what Grigson (and others) might have hoped: level the playing field. Since the 2014 AFC title game, which the Patriots won 45-7, New England has won a Super Bowl and gone 29-7 (.806).
Grigson and the Colts, on the other hand, have not been as successful since the dawn of Deflategate. While the team started Grigson’s tenure with the team with a 36-18 (.667) record, it has been 16-16 (.500) since accusing the Patriots of skirting the rules. Indianapolis, thanks in large parts to questionable roster construction by its general manager, failed to build on a promising first three years and was unable to reach the playoffs in both 2015 and 2016.
Colts punt Pat McAfee reacts to Grigson’s firing.
Thank God— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) January 21, 2017
Yesterday, team owner Jim Irsay pulled the plug and decided to fire Grigson. And while the Patriots will play in yet another AFC championship game tonight – their sixth straight, Deflategate be damned – the scandal’s "patient zero" is now out of a job. And it will be hard to find anyone in New England who does not feel a little bit of schadenfreude now.