“DeflateGate” isn’t sitting well with Stephen A. Smith.
Smith, who isn’t shy about sharing his opinion on ESPN’s “First Take,” appeared on WEEI’s “Middays with MFB” on Wednesday to discuss the New England Patriots’ alleged involvement in the NFL’s latest controversy. He couldn’t help but question the situation in the wake of a report stating that 11 of the 12 footballs supplied by the Patriots for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts were under-inflated.
“I’m not going to lie to you. It devastated me,” Smith said. “Anybody that knows me, first of all I’m a native New Yorker. I am no Patriots fan, per se, in terms of being a team from Boston. I’m a New Yorker. I root for the Yankees. I root for the Giants. People like that. I love the Steelers, too. But not the Patriots. I just have such profound respect for the organization, for the leadership of (owner) Robert Kraft, the greatness of (head coach) Bill Belichick, and, of course, the greatness of (quarterback) Tom Brady, and their consistent success over the years.”
Opinions certainly vary on the topic. While some suggest the league needs to come down hard on the Patriots, who are set to face the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX after destroying the Colts 45-7, others are a bit more skeptical about the severity of the alleged crime. However, there’s no denying the Patriots’ reputation — Spygate, specifically — isn’t helping their cause.
“I thought that it’s utterly ridiculous to look at Spygate and what transpired years ago and then try and say, ‘Well, you know what, it delegitimizes everything that they’ve accomplished over the years.’ I thought that was utterly ridiculous,” Smith said. “But you make those arguments, you think about the haterism — for lack of a better phrase — that’s thrown out there toward them, and then you wake up this morning and see that 11 of 12 balls were deflated to some degree.
“Clearly, there appears to be intent to that, which brings into question fair play and the Patriots’ willingness to engage in it, which all of a sudden brings all that old stuff back to the forefront, combined with questioning who they are and what they stand for now. And I find that to be incredibly unfortunate.”
Smith also said he believes Belichick should be suspended a full season — just like New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton was for his involvement in “Bountygate” — if found to be directly involved with “DeflateGate,” though he still questions whether the Patriots head coach really is guilty of any wrongdoing. Regardless, it’s obviously not a good situation for New England.
“I believe that the Patriots’ legacy may very well be on the line,” Smith said of a potential loss to Seattle. “Because if you lose this Super Bowl, that makes you 0-3 in Super Bowls since Spygate.”
Thumbnail photo via Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports Images