ESPN – At best, it was a relatively minor rules violation that no rational person would link to the Patriots’ victory two weeks later in Super Bowl XLIX. At worst, Deflategate was a retroactive framing of the league’s most successful franchise and a future Hall of Fame quarterback, a clumsy and forgettable endeavor and an unfortunate reminder that the NFL’s standard for discipline demands only that an event was “more probable than not” to have occurred. …
Yet when it was all over, no one could say for sure if Deflategate actually happened. A reasonable person could be left thinking that the investigation itself was the true scandal.
The Wells Report was based largely on a series of text messages from an equipment assistant who referred to himself as “The Deflator,” and the unexplained pregame detour of a locker room attendant who brought the game balls into a bathroom with him before the game. There was no direct evidence that the equipment assistant removed air from the footballs, or that Brady asked him to do it. And the halftime inflation measurement was a rushed and haphazard effort, one that would never pass scientific scrutiny to confirm accuracy. …
In the end, it is nothing more than an opinion to suggest that it was ‘more probable than not’ that Deflategate happened. …
The shaky connections and the preposterous conclusions of Deflategate have allowed it to slip quietly from the NFL consciousness.
Wow. I wish I’d said these things. Oh, wait. I have. From minute one of this preposterous witch hunt, and for five years since.
So at long last, welcome to the club, ESPN.
The only questions at this point are: Where have you been all this time? And how do you write all these things and not mention your own company’s direct role in creating this whole ridiculous clusterfudge?
Do they need to be reminded that it all started with that Chris Mortensen Tweet above? And that the “11 of 12” and “2 lbs” numbers he mentioned were egregiously wrong? So that when Brady was being bombarded with the worst questions in the history of pressers, (“This has raised a lot of uncomfortable conversations for people around this country who view you as their idol.
The question they’re asking themselves is, ‘What’s up with our hero?’ Can you answer right now, is Tom Brady a cheater?”) everyone was operating on grossly false assumptions. A fact the NFL and ESPN were well aware of.
Yet, the Tweet stayed up for the better part of a year, because Mort claimed he didn’t understand how to take a Tweet down or correct it. And long after it did come down, the false data sat on their website like they were settled science.
That, however, was just the beginning. Throughout the whole episode, the Wells Report smear job, the litigation and the appeals, ESPN acted as Fuhrer Goodell’s Ministry of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment.
The NFL knew that whatever false narrative they wanted to put out there to win the PR war, their willing accomplices in Bristol would air without question.
So, we got Mark Brunell’s tears. Comments about how the Pats “taped the Rams Super Bowl walk through” on SportsCenter in prime time, and a subsequent retraction at 1 a.m.
Also, Kelly Naqi reporting the Patriots tried to slip an unapproved kicking ball into the AFC championship game, and having to be corrected by Adam Schefter that the real balls had been stolen by an NFL employee, and he slipped in the dummy balls to hide his tracks.
Again, Stephen A. Smith reporting that Brady “destroyed” (more commonly referred to as “upgraded”) his phone, the one that the NFL was never entitled to because it’s private property and they can go f*** themselves.
I could go on, but you get the point. It’s nice to have ESPN to the party finally, but they’re about 60 months too late. And trying to correct the record now without mentioning their own role in it is worse than disingenuous; it’s flat out hypocritical.
It’s like if, instead of Clint Eastwood making “Richard Jewell,” it was directed by Jay Leno and he left out scenes where he was blaming Jewell for the Olympic bombing and calling him “The Una-Doofus” every night for months.
Still, better late than never, I guess. Maybe now, ESPN can give as much coverage to getting those draft picks and Brady’s reputation back as they did to destroy them.
EDITED FROM: barstoolsports.com