Former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Boomer Esiason, responding to reports that the NFL discovered one significantly deflated footballs rather than eleven in the AFC Championship Game, believes teams other than the one accused may be responsible for the controversy.
Esiason posits that the closeness between Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh and Colts coach Chuck Pagano, Harbaugh’s former defensive coordinator, led to the brouhaha. He thinks that Brady’s retort that Harbaugh should learn the rulebook after the Ravens coach decried a Patriots formation as unfair resulted in an attempt to gain revenge–and show Brady that he’s the one who should learn the rulebook.
Harbaugh bitterly denounced the receiver-ineligible formation as a “trick” and “illegal” after his team’s loss to the Patriots in the playoffs. A bemused Brady responded, “Maybe those guys gotta study the rulebook and figure it out.”
Though news that one ball–the only one in possession of the Colts–showed significant under-inflation–has sparked charges that the Patriots’s rival let the air out of the prolate spheroid, Esiason stayed away from directly making that accusation.
“This is what I believe happened: they all wanted to embarrass Tom Brady, and they wanted to put him on the spit if you will,” the former NFL MVP maintains. “They wanted to make him answer questions about said rulebook.”
The former Bengals, Cardinals, and Jets quarterback laid out the conspiracy theory on Boston’s WEEI sports-radio station.
“You can say whatever you want about Deflate-gate, and who said what,” Esiason offered, “but to me this is about how the NFL operates: it’s back stabbing, it’s insecure and it’s childish. ‘You want to call me out? I’m going to call you out. You want to embarrass me? Guess what I’m going to embarrass you.’ I’m telling you, this is the way the NFL works.
“At the end of the day,” Esiason noted. “Tom Brady is the one who’s got the last laugh. He’s got his third Super Bowl MVP trophy and his fourth Super Bowl.”