At one point in time, I thought my greatest fear was that we’d have to talk about Deflategate every day for the rest of my life.
But that’s no longer the case, thanks to the NFL’s response to another deflated football controversy. Though, when I say “controversy,” at this point, the only thing controversial is the NFL’s response. Which is why my new greatest fear is a world in which deflated footballs are now a “nothing to see here” issue.
Let me tell you what happened. FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer — who’s tapped in to the league pretty well — reported on Sunday afternoon that the New York Giants were suspicious of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ footballs during their Week 13 game in Pittsburgh. After two turnovers, according to Glazer, the Giants tested the PSI of the footballs, and found both footballs to be under the 12.5 PSI minimum.
“[The Giants] sent them into the National Football League, and they’re still waiting for a response from the NFL,” said Glazer during Sunday’s “NFL on FOX” pregame show.
Later on Sunday night, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported that the two balls the Giants “alerted the league” about were measured at 11.4 and 11.8 PSI.
Then, after throwing no touchdowns and three interceptions in a 27-20 win over the Buffalo Bills, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger responded to the report by saying, “We used Nerf balls.”
Now, I can’t lie. When this first came out, I rolled my eyes. I hoped and prayed that we wouldn’t have “Deflategate 2” on our hands.
Then I saw the statement on twitter from NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, just an hour after Glazer’s initial report. It read, “The officiating game ball procedures were followed and there were no chain of command issues. All footballs were in compliance and no formal complaint was filed by the Giants with our office.”
That was easy. A little too easy. After all, isn’t commissioner Roger Goodell willing to do everything he can in order to protect the integrity of the game?
I mean, was there even an investigation? If there was, the Steelers didn’t know about it.
Buried at the bottom of an ESPN.com story posted Monday morning at 4:45 a.m.:“The Steelers were not notified of any tips or inquiries throughout the week and first heard about it via Sunday’s report, a team source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.”
Fowler covers the Steelers. That’s what his twitter bio says. Reading some of his other stories, it seems like he’s pretty tapped into the team. So, safe to say there was no investigation. But the NFL’s statement implies that perhaps they don’t believe this warranted an investigation. Spokesman McCarthy points out that “no formal complaint” was filed by the Giants.
Call me stupid, but I’d like to believe that when a team sends PSI information into the league — like Glazer said the Giants did — that constitutes as a complaint that’s formal enough to be taken seriously, given how the NFL reacted to PSI levels of the Patriots’ footballs during the AFC Championship game two years ago.
To me, it all comes back to that. It all comes back to the league’s reaction that resulted in the original “Deflategate.”
A member of the Indianapolis Colts’ equipment staff took a football that D’Qwell Jackson intercepted, and told head coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson that it seemed underinflated. Grigson then alerted NFL director of football operations Mike Kensil.
The Colts “alerted” the league. Same way the Giants also reportedly “alerted” the league.
Two years ago, an alert was good enough for an all-out investigation, and ultimately, a four-game suspension for Tom Brady, the loss of a first and a fourth round draft pick, and a team fine of $1 million.
Now, an alert isn’t formal enough to be worthy of an investigation. And no investigation apparently means that Mark Brunell and Jerome Bettis won’t be on ESPN’s “NFL Live” taking shots at Roethlisberger.
Can you imagine if Brady responded to Deflategate accusations by saying he used Nerf balls? Wolf Blitzer would have been going live from Patriot Place later that night.
Look, nobody wanted a Deflategate sequel. I get it. But seeing how quickly the NFL has moved on from this latest accusation -- after putting the full-court press on Brady and Patriots two years ago -- I need something, anything.
How about an investigation? Or at least an “Outside the Lines” report on ESPN? Unfortunately, none of that is coming. PSI accusations are no longer a serious issue.
We’re living in a Bizarro Deflategate World, and it’s officially my worst nightmare.