It took a couple of days, but #DeflateGate is officially a full-blown NFL controversy, inflating ratings and page views throughout the sports media.
Adding to the intrigue is the vague notion that other quarterbacks have doctored footballs. Former Super Bowl-winning quarterback Brad Johnson has admitted paying ball boys to scuff up footballs before the 37th installment of the NFL’s premier event — although he insists he violated no rules. Now, a former Heisman winner who never quite made it at the pro level contends that most quarterbacks do something to the football.
“Every team tampers with the footballs,” Matt Leinart said on Twitter. “Ask any Qb In the league, this is ridiculous!!”
Leinart then carved out one exception: “Actually my guy
@kurt13warner didn’t tamper w the footballs because he wore gloves,” Leinart said. “Used to irritate me..So correction, almost all QBs!”
Kevin Clark of the Wall Street Journal, who’s currently in Mobile, Alabama for the first significant pre-draft event, supports the notion that tampering is commonplace by noting that “NFL head coaches here at Senior Bowl seem downright offended that people think this deflation stuff is a big deal.”
While the rules are the rules (brilliant!), the question of whether the rules regarding ball inflation/deflation are commonly ignored become as relevant to the final analysis of #DeflateGate as does the Patriots’ past transgression from 2007. If, that is, the NFL concludes that 11 of 12 footballs used by New England in the first half of the AFC title game were two pounds per square inch below the minimum due to deliberate misconduct.