IF YOU WATCHED the Patriots-Colts AFC divisional playoff game back in January, you know improperly deflated balls weren't why the Patriots won. The real reason they won had more to do with their defense wreaking havoc on an anemic Colts' offense.
But Ted Wells' report today released by the NFL did nothing to squelch the story, instead giving it more life when it was on its last breath. (I know -- enough with the air metaphors.) Patriots' owner Robert Kraft has already come up and said how "disappointed" he was with the report.
Now, the real thing to watch will be the NFL's action to this report. Will the Patriots' lose a draft pick? Get fined? Nothing?
Any reasonably-minded person will see the small inflation difference had little to do with the outcome of the game. However, the NFL set a precedence that must be followed earlier this year when it fined and stripped a draft pick from the Atlanta Falcons, who were cited for piping in crowd noise. Amped up crowd noise from a PA system is also benign (For proof, see the Falcons' record in 2014). Yet commissioner Roger Goodell's heavy hand resulted in what seemed like another case of the punishment not fitting the crime.
While these NFL "crimes" must be punished (if not, what's the point in having rules and guidelines), they must also be punished equally.
Though a few months ago I would've thought it absurd to suggest that the Patriots would a draft pick over this ordeal, Goodell's hands are tied and he must administer his justice equally or risk demonstrating the favoritism so many fans of smaller market teams believe the league has for its media darlings. It's no coincidence that this report wasn't released earlier so that he could maintain NFL discussion in the public around the spectacle that has become the NFL Draft Day (err, Weekend). It's what any smart CEO running a company would do.
But this week it's time for him to step up to the podium and deliver a different kind of announcement: the kind that should have Patriots' haters giddy and their supporters reminding everyone how jealous they are of their franchise.
Either way, it should be fun theater ... especially the comments section of every article once the decision is announced ... whatever way the wind blows Goodell.