*Editor’s note: Eagle Tribune sports columnist Bill Burt and George Bremer, sports editor of the Herald Bulletin in Anderson, Indiana, provide different perspectives on the recent controversy surrounding the New England Patriots and their footballs in Sunday’s AFC Championship game. Follow the North Boston Media Group’s covering leading up to the Super Bowl online.
Water is wet. The sky is blue. Bill Belichick cheated. What else is new?
OK, that’s admittedly a bit flippant. But the latest accusation against the New England Patriots — that 11 of the 12 footballs used by the Patriots during Sunday’s AFC Championship Game were under-inflated by 2 pounds per square inch — shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Belichick is a control freak and a megalomaniac who will look for an advantage anywhere he can find it.
Did the Patriots need that edge to beat the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 at Gillette Stadium? Of course not.
But that’s what makes this situation all the more perplexing.
Belichick — a noted student of NFL history who is rightfully proud of his place in those annals — had already watched his legacy dragged through the mud after the Patriots were caught videotaping the New York Jets defensive staff’s signals from the sideline during a game in September 2007.
Why risk something like that again?
It’s theoretically possible the head coach had no knowledge that the footballs used by the Patriots in Sunday’s Colts-Patriots game had been tampered with, and perhaps the league investigation will discover as much.
It’s also theoretically possible unicorns are currently roaming the field inside Lucas Oil Stadium.
In the aftermath of the 2007 “Spygate” incident with the Jets, the NFL fined Belichick $500,000, docked New England an additional $250,000 and forced the Patriots to forfeit a first-round draft pick.
A similar punishment is likely here, though I’d settle for the Colts getting the rights to Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork and call it even.
In all seriousness, from the Indianapolis perspective, it’s hard to get too worked up over this.
It would be just another colorful chapter in the Colts-Patriots rivalry if Indianapolis were still holding up its end of the bargain.
The Colts had lost their past three games against New England by an average of 26 points heading into Sunday’s championship showdown. That’s the deflation that should concern Indianapolis.
Before the Patriots drubbed the Colts on Sunday, safety Sergio Brown had made national headlines with his post-game victory celebrations designed as a tribute to professional wrestler Ric Flair.
“The Nature Boy” was a 16-time world heavyweight champion who wasn’t above bending a few rules of his own.
Flair’s famous “Woooo” exclamation was the centerpiece of Brown’s routine. But it’s another Flair expression that holds relevance here.
“To be the man, you’ve gotta beat the man.”
Even if he knows every dirty trick in the book.
George Bemer is sports editor and covers the Indianapolis Colts for The Herald Bulletin in Anderson, Ind., home of the Colts’ summer training camp. Follow him on Twitter @gmbremer.