The league meetings in San Francisco earlier this week provided a brief rest from the still relentless searing hot takes heaved through your television and computer screen. But prepare for the onslaught once more, and this latest perspective comes from a star cornerback who cares little about potentially torching bridges with his former team.
Darrelle Revis spoke with Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. He signed with the New York Jets as a free agent, chasing sweet cash once again shortly after winning a Super Bowl with the Patriots.
Revis has always been known for his level of bluntness when speaking publicly about, well, pretty much anything. So it wouldn’t have been reaching to imagine a scenario in which he revealed hidden information of some kind through insider knowledge after spending a season in New England.
But alas, he had none, as Revis told Mehta he didn’t know about any deflating scheme. He did, however, say that history no doubt played a role in Brady’s four-game suspension and the loss of draft picks.
“Everybody’s blowing it up because it is Tom Brady,” Revis said Wednesday. “I understand that. But if [the NFL] feels he did the crime or he did something and they want to penalize them, then that’s that. The Patriots have a history of doing stuff. You can’t hide that.… Tom was there when they did that stuff in the past.”
Revis repeated the central point there once more, this time with feeling.
“New England’s been doing stuff in the past and getting in trouble,” he said. “When stuff repeatedly happens, then that’s it. I don’t know what else to tell you. Stuff repeatedly happened through the years.”
He’s referring, of course, to Spygate, which also cost the Patriots a draft pick. And he’s not wrong: A reputation for flirting with the line separating rule bending and rule breaking surely played a role in the Deflategate punishment handed out by commissioner Roger Goodell.
The problem with Revis’ thinking and leaning on history as many have throughout the court of public opinion’s deliberation is that in both instances—Deflategate and Spygate—the Patriots weren’t unique. They were brazen enough to go too far, but their rule manipulating wasn’t an original idea.
Quarterbacks have been tinkering with game balls for quite some time, long before the ludicrous practice of having teams supply their own balls was put in place. Please recall that former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Brad Johnson bribed locker room attendants $7,500 to scuff up and break in the game balls prior to Super Bowl XXXVII.
Rich Gannon was the opposing quarterback in that game, and back in January he spoke to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com.
“This has been going on for a long time, ” he said. “It goes back to when we were playing and you go to another stadium and the balls were terrible.”
Back then teams used the same set of game balls. But the larger point here of quarterbacks wanting balls to their specific tastes remains, and is one echoed by Boomer Esiason.
“It really does seem totally ridiculous that this story has been blown so far out of proportion,” Said Esiason, who also spoke with La Canfora. “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.”
There is a rule in place now regarding PSI levels. The Patriots broke it, and there are consequences for being caught with your hand on the football needle.
But primarily it feels like the Patriots are being punished for arrogance both toward the rulebook, and the league after failing to cooperate with Ted Wells’ investigation.
To some degree Revis is right, and the Patriots’ main crime is being the Patriots.