It didn’t take long for the Deflategate scandal involving the New England Patriots to blow up at the first press conference for Super Bowl XLIX.
The Seattle Seahawks were bombarded with questions about the deflated footballs used by the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, and cornerback Richard Sherman ignited a firestorm Sunday by saying the Patriots won’t be penalized because of the cozy relationship between NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and New England owner Robert Kraft.
“Will they be punished? Probably not,” Sherman theorized. “Not as long as Robert Kraft and Roger Goodell are still taking pictures at their respective homes. … You talk about a conflict of interest.”
Sherman may have forgotten that in 2008, Goodell fined coach Bill Belichick the league maximum $500,000 and fined the Patriots $250,000 and stripped them of a first-round draft pick for illegally videotaping New York Jets defensive signals in what became known as Spygate. Goodell also later had those tapes destroyed.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said he, like Belichick, has familiarized himself with the specs for inflating a football since the controversy began.
“I’m much better versed today than I was a week or so ago,” Carroll said. “Things come up and we have to face things sometimes for the first time. …But I never checked on the whole process of how our footballs were handled until this week. I can empathize with coach Belichick in that same way. It’s something that is part of the equipment standards that are carried out by our people in the organization. This one has not been looked at maybe as intently as it is now.
“But I know every step of it now. My awareness is up, and I’m sure theirs is, and everybody else is around our game … will never be the same because of what just happened.”
A year ago. Sherman was in the Super Bowl crosshairs after his nationally televised rant following the NFC Championship Game win over San Francisco. So he’s enjoying watching Belichick and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady cast as the villains.
“Yes it is ironic, that I was a villain last year," Sherman said, “seeing as I didn't break any rules or do anything despicable. I just play the game. To be painted a villain, you have to do something, I guess evil … something heinous, and I don't know if I fit that description.”
Sherman, Thomas available
Carroll said both Sherman, who suffered an elbow injury, and safety Earl Thomas, who injured a shoulder in the NFC Championship Game, should be available for the Super Bowl.
“Richard practiced in all the practices (last week),” Carroll said. “He looks to be fine. He still has an elbow to take care of. Earl got the last day of practice in and looked fine. Both are scheduled to play and should be okay.”