More than 30 years later, a Top Gun sequel is coming. The #Deflategate sequel likely will take a little longer.
As evidenced by the two occasions on which irregularities were found in footballs used by the Steelers since the first air-pressure controversy resulted in a four-game suspension for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, the removal of a first-round and fourth-round draft pick, and a $1 million fine for the team, the league has no interest in further spelunking as to the inner workings of a football.
The league will never admit this, but it knows that #Deflategate I never should have happened. The fumes of Spygate collided with the reckless allegations of teams that resent the Patriots’ success, making league officials predisposed to assume the worst when measurements taken at halftime of an outdoor game played in mid-January. And so they didn’t bother to consider that the balls may have lost some air pressure due to the elements, not skullduggery.
Caught between underlings who insisted that the PSI readings were proof of foul play and overlords who thought the Patriots got off too easy when last caught cheating, the Commissioner let nature take its course, resulting in an unnatural, square-peg/round-hole effort by Ted Wells to give the league what it wanted: A conclusion that cheating had occurred, even if the evidence was inconclusive.
Since then, it’s no mistake that the league has guarded the random pressure measurements more zealously than any/every other piece of confidential information entrusted to the employees of 345 Park Avenue. If those numbers ever were disclosed (especially numbers taken during games played in cold weather), it would become immediately obvious that the Keystone Cops-meets-kangaroo court realities of the NFL investigative process fueled the Patriots’ punishments.
A second #Deflategate could do the same thing, which is the main reason why the NFL (like Balboa and Creed at the end of Rocky) wants no rematch. Of course, if the Patriots are ever again suspected of taking the top off a football or two, the Enforcer could be goaded out of retirement.
Until that unlikely eventuality, don’t expect the league to ever rev up the investigative engine no matter whether the footballs used by any of the other 31 teams seem like marshmallows, beach balls, or old balloons.