As the football-following world waits (and wait . . . and waits) for the Second Annual AFC East Ted Wells Report, there’s an interesting wrinkle regarding the genesis of the allegation that the Patriots were deflating footballs.
Last week, Colts G.M. Ryan Grigson admitted that he alerted the league of the team’s suspicions the week prior to the game, contradicting prior reports and explanations from the league that suggested the issue first came up during the AFC title game. The popular view had been that, unlike his predecessor Bill Polian, Grigson had no specific reason to be suspicious or resentful of the Patriots.
But maybe Grigson did. He arrived in Indy from Philadelphia, where Grigson worked for the Eagles during a Super Bowl XXXIX loss to New England. Three years earlier, Grigson worked for the Rams during a Super Bowl XXXVI loss to the Patriots.
So Grigson quite possibly believes the Patriots previously took a pair of Super Bowl rings from him with methods that may have been beyond the realm of the rules. Though no specific accusations ever were made about Super Bowl XXXIX, the win came during the same window in which former Panthers G.M. Marty Hurney has openly wondered whether a “culture of cheating” existed. As to Super Bowl XXXVI, many still believe that the Patriots videotaped the St. Louis walk-through practice prior to the game, even though the Boston Herald retracted the report with a front-page story not long after the story first emerged.
Throw in the fact that Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk and future Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner continue to have suspicions about that game, and it’s easy to wonder whether Grigson regards the Patriots as a team that took multiple Super Bowl rings from him.
None of that affects whether cheating occurred in this specific case. But it shows that NFL V.P. of game operations (and former Jets employee) Mike Kensil may not have been the only person with a specific bias against the Patriots, and a specific desire to catch them in the act.