10 Quarterbacks on Deflategate

Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady
The Associated Press

Deflate-gate divides football fans—and players.

An ESPN SportsNation poll highlights the divide: 51 percent of respondents fall into the “not a big deal” camp; 49 percent say it taints the success of the Patriots. Just as the percentages speak to the divide, the vote total demonstrates the intense interest in the issue. Whereas a few hundred thousand people vote in other such SportsNation polls, 1.2 million took sides here.

NFL quarterbacks, past and present, are no different. Many weigh in, and with intense feelings. Breitbart Sports surfed the web to sample reactions from notable retired quarterbacks to Deflate-gate.

Joe Theismann

“I knew I’d be asked a lot of questions, start to do a lot of interviews. And instead of pre-supposing what something might feel like or what it may do, I decided to go out to Redskins Park and see what a ball felt like at 13 PSI, versus 11…. You really have to push it to feel the difference in it. It’s negligible, as far as I’m concerned…. A rules violation, yes, but not that big a deal.”

Fran Tarkenton

“Tom Brady knows exactly what was done to the ball or what wasn’t done with the ball as every other quarterback in the National Football League does. I thought in the press conference he was very uncomfortable because he knows that he knows. And is it a stupid rule? I don’t know if it’s a stupid rule. It’s a rule and he should follow the rules, but they broke the rules. Nobody is going to touch the ball in that locker room but Tom Brady.”

Shaun King

“This entire thing is a complete witch hunt, and I support and back Bill Belichick 100 percent. The ball selection is between the quarterback and the head equipment trainer.”

Troy Aikman

“It’s obvious that Tom Brady had something to do with this. I know going back to when I played, they’ve loosened up the rules in terms of what each team is able to do with the footballs coming into the game. Used to, the home team provided all the balls. And now, each team brings their footballs the way they like them and break ’em in. Used to you couldn’t break them in. So for the balls to be deflated, that doesn’t happen unless the quarterback wants that to happen, I can assure you of that. Now the question becomes did Bill Belichick know about it.”

Boomer Esiason

“It really does seem totally ridiculous that this story has been blown so far out of proportion. If you look at the footballs that the quarterbacks are playing with and throwing for the last six or seven years, just realize that everybody is doing the same thing.”

Rich Gannon

“Ask any quarterback, and this is a non-issue. Everybody does something to them. It’s like a pitcher, he wants the ball a certain way. Take Tiger Woods, you wouldn’t tell him after he’s been hitting a 10.5 degree loft all week with a certain ball that, ‘Hey, now we’re going to switch your ball out.’ That’s his thing, and it’s that specific feel that you want. That football is how we make our living and it sounds crazy, but it’s a sacred thing. It’s got to be a certain way.”

Steve Young

“I would say throwing a deflated football is of no advantage. Personally, I wouldn’t want to throw a deflated football. But there’s no advantage for me. If you look at a quarterback’s performance, I struggle to see how underinflated footballs are changing the way you play…. The issue fundamentally is that there’s a rule — officials check the footballs. And somebody had to go in after the league did their checks and nefariously take some air out of those footballs. It begs the question, ‘Why would you?’ And who would go in afterwards and do it? And with the Patriots Spygate history, they needed to be perfect.”

Jim Miller

“Every team doctors the football, every quarterback around the league is scuffing the balls up to make sure they’re broken in…. I would hate a deflated football or an overinflated football. It’s like the three bears from Goldilocks and the porridge. As a quarterback, you want your football inflated just right. This is more about ‘Oh, here goes Bill Belichick and the Patriots again.’ It is about conspiracy theories. People perceive Belichick is just thumbing his nose at the league again.”

Mark Brunell

“I did not believe what Tom [Brady] had to say. Those balls were deflated. Somebody had to do it and I don’t believe there’s an equipment manager in the NFL that would on his own initiative deflate a ball without the starting quarterback’s approval. I just didn’t believe what Tom Brady had to say.”

Drew Bledsoe

“Tommy and I are friends. When he took my job, it was tough. I didn’t like that. But it never had anything to do with Tom. He always conducted himself with class. When I see people come out and accuse him of being a cheater and a liar, I’ve got to stand up and say something. It’s just not true. It’s not who he is. It’s not what he’s about. To see a guy who has impeccable integrity being accused of being a liar and a cheater, I finally had to stand up and say something. It started to make me mad…. Mark Brunell is a friend of mine. And Troy Aikman is a friend of mine. And I like these guys and respect them. But I think it was really irresponsible of both of them to go make accusations that Tom’s lying without the facts. Put it this way, if I thought Tom was cheating, or lying, I simply wouldn’t say anything until I knew all the facts. But for guys to stand up and say that he cheated and that he’s lying about it without having all the facts in hand, I think that’s pretty irresponsible. I really do.”