Let’s Revisit the Worst Deflategate Hot Takes

It's the best way to get amped up for this week's Patriots and Colts grudge match.

Roger Goodell

Photo via AP

As the interminable Deflategate saga wore on, it became more about the NFL’s witch hunt than the Patriots’ alleged infraction. And many national sports media members were more than willing to help do the league’s bidding.

With the Patriots set to take on the Colts this week for the Deflategate grudge match, it’s only appropriate to look back at some of the more outlandish hot takes that were offered. Because who doesn’t like a good public shaming, right?

Let’s start with our friends down in Indianapolis, because they led the charge in this parade of manure-tossers. Sports writer Bob Kravitz was actually the first person to report the NFL was investigating the Patriots for playing with under-inflated footballs, and he was right on the money. But then he went a little overboard.

Those are fighting words, but nothing compared to the nonsense that arose from the Indianapolis Stars‘ Gregg Doyel’s keyboard over the ensuing months. On the day Roger Goodell upheld Tom Brady’s four-game suspension, Doyel called Brady a “liar, cheater, and shameless.” He also threw in the ol’ steroid comparison for good measure.

“Brady has left Rafael Palmeiro territory, wagging his figurative finger at the camera and saying, ‘I don’t believe so,’ when asked if he’s a cheater, and entered the more nefarious neighborhood of Ryan Braun and Lance Armstrong,” Doyel wrote. “Rigged muscles, rigged footballs — it’s rigging the contest. Gaming the system. Cheating the other team from the fair game it deserves.”

Doyel is still at it, by the way. He wrote about Deflategate again this week with added indignation directed at the Patriots for having cheated the team in his city, which is clearly the biggest crime here.

Kravitz and Doyel had a lot of help from their trolling brethren nationwide. The Los Angeles Times‘ Bill Plaschke, a five-time National Sports Columnist of the Year winner, compared Brady to Barry Bonds — who was investigated by a federal grand jury for his alleged steroid use. (For what it’s worth, Judge Richard Berman chastised the NFL in court for comparing deflated footballs to steroid use.)

But Plaschke’s got nothing on former tight end and CBS analyst Shannon Sharpe, who wanted Bill Belichick suspended for one year. Keep in mind, Ted Wells’ report actually exonerates Belichick and the Patriots from blame.

Perhaps Sharpe believes this was all an inside job to cover up for Belichick. If that’s the case, he wouldn’t be alone. The Globe‘s Ben Volin and 98.5 “The Sports Hub’s” Tony Massarotti peddled similar theories.

That’s right, some of the biggest Deflategate trolls may have been in our own backyard.