The original Deflategate was a black eye for the NFL, so it’s unsurprising that two of the league’s old-guard owners are attempting to kill Deflategate II before it gets off the ground.
Giants owner John Mara and Steelers owner Art Rooney both told reporters at the league meeting today that they don’t think there’s anything to the second round of Deflategate, which began when Jay Glazer reported on Sunday that the Giants informed the league that two footballs used by the Steelers were under-inflated.
“Much ado about nothing,” Mara said.
Asked for his own comment, Rooney answered, “I agree with John.”
But while those comments might seem like they should put the issue to bed, the fact remains that the Giants believed the Steelers were using under-inflated footballs. When the Colts believed that the Patriots were using under-inflated footballs, the NFL spent months of time and millions of dollars to investigate the matter, and eventually concluded that the Patriots should be stripped of draft picks and Tom Brady should be suspended for four games. Why should it be swept under the rug this time when it was treated as a major scandal last time?
The answer to that is likely that Mara and Rooney, two NFL lifers whose families have been close for generations, don’t want to create another controversy. That, however, isn’t a good enough reason: If the NFL has to thoroughly investigate any hint of cheating, as Roger Goodell claimed during the first Deflategate, then the NFL has to thoroughly investigate whether the Steelers’ footballs were under-inflated. And if under-inflated footballs are either not a big enough deal to investigate or simply a byproduct of playing football on a chilly day, then the NFL shouldn’t have harshly disciplined the Patriots and Brady.
So while Mara and Rooney are free to try to sweep this under the rug, the rest of us remain free to question why the reaction to the second Deflategate is so different from the reaction to the first Deflategate.