Ravens D-End: Patriots ‘Habitual Line-Steppers’

NFL investigating whether Patriots used under-inflated balls against Colts

Appearing on NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk, Baltimore Ravens defensive end Chris Canty called the New England Patriots “habitual line-steppers” and should be punished.

Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reports that the Ravens, still smarting from their defeat to the Patriots in this year’s playoffs, tipped off the Indianapolis Colts to New England’s use of under-pressurized balls. After his playoff loss, Baltimore coach John Harbaugh had bitterly accused New England head coach Bill Belichick of using an “illegal” and “clearly deceptive” formations that the NFL later affirmed as legal. Harbaugh called the under-inflated balls an “unfair advantage” on Thursday.

“The Patriots are habitual line-steppers,” Canty averred. “If the allegations are true, then you are talking about attacking the integrity of our game and I have an issue with that. . . . [W]hat I’m going to say about the deflating of the balls, to me there is no difference than performance-enhancing drugs. You are cheating at that point. You are getting a competitive advantage outside of the rule book and there has to be some sort of consequences for that.”

Questions over the matter have cast a pall over the Patriots’ AFC Championship win after NFL officials reported that fully 11 of the 12 game balls supplied by the team were found to be under-inflated. The report immediately led to questions as to whether or not the team let air out of game balls on purpose.

The player went on to say that the incident, if it was deliberate, reflects on the integrity of the NFL.

“To me, the integrity of the game is the most important thing,” he said. “You want to be successful as a player but you want to think that you are doing things that are within the rules and that you are out there competing and it’s not, whether it is performance-enhancing drugs or deflated footballs that is out there aiding in your performance.”

As for the Patriots, on Thursday Patriots head coach Bill Belichick expressed “shock” over revelations that his team’s game balls were under-inflated.

“In my entire coaching career,” Belichick explained, “I have never talked to any player or staff member about football air pressure.”

Many insist that the only person who can answer questions about under-inflated game balls is Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Even coach Belichick seemed to be directing questions toward Brady. On Thursday he said, “Tom’s personal preferences on his footballs are something that he can talk about in much better detail and information than I could possibly provide. I have no explanation for what happened.”

“I have no knowledge of anything,” Brady explained at his Thursday afternoon press conference. “I have no knowledge of any wrongdoing.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com