We’re approaching the third anniversary of the farce known as deflategate. If this was really a plot by the NFL owners to get back at the Patriots and level the playing field, how has that worked out?
What’s happened to some of the key players who went after the Patriots in that drama since then?
Mike Kensil – The NFL Vice President of Game Operations, who infamously told the Patriots equipment manager “We weighed the ball. You’re in big f****** trouble.”
Kensil was quietly reassigned as “V.P. game operations-international.” He has spent a lot of time in China, far away from any inquisitive media.
Ryan Grigson – Colts GM who got the ball rolling on the scandal with emails to the league office urging them to check the footballs during the AFCCG, and thanked them “for being vigilant stewards of that not only for us but for the shield and overall integrity of our game.“
Grigson was fired on January 21, 2017, following the Colts second consecutive season missing the playoffs. Indianapolis went 16-16 in the two seasons following deflategate.
Indianapolis Colts – Since the loss to the Patriots in the AFCCG, the Colts are 19-24 in the regular season, and have put the career of franchise quarterback Andrew Luck in jeopardy.
John Harbaugh/Baltimore Ravens – Harbaugh and the Ravens were rumored to have been in contact with the Colts about the Patriots footballs following Baltimore’s loss in the divisional round. Harbaugh was said to have been irked by Tom Brady’s suggestion that he read the rulebook after Harbaugh complained about legal plays run by the Patriots in the divisional round win over the Ravens.
Since that loss to the Patriots, the Ravens are 18-24 and have missed the playoffs both seasons.
Bob Kravitz – The Indianapolis columnist who got a whisper in the ear and was the first to report that the Patriots were under investigation, and in the days following called for Belichick to be fired and a lot of other nonsense. He later wrote a shaky column where an official (Mark Baltz a member of Bill Leavy’s crew) claimed to have been suspicious of Jim McNally for years but told many untruths in his own tale.
Kravtiz has battled health problems, including neck fusion surgery, and also admitted to receiving HGH from Dr. Dale Guyer the same doctor who was at the center of the controversy involving shipments of HGH to Peyton Manning’s home. (Allegedly for his wife, Ashley.)
Gregg Doyel – Indianapolis Star columnist who also went hard after the Patriots with a number of particularly inflammatory columns in the days/weeks/months following deflategate.
Doyel recently went through his struggles with depression and how he has tried to cope with his illness.
Chris Mortensen – Reported the day after the game that the 11 of the 12 Patriots footballs were significantly under-inflated. Also reported later that week that all the Colts footballs were fine.
Mortensen was diagnosed with throat cancer in January 2016 and is battling lung cancer now. He remains defensive and defiant of his inaccurate reporting.
Bart Hubbuch – Former NY Post columnist who trolled Patriots fans hard before, during and after deflategate.
Hubbach was fired from the NY Post for comments on Twitter, launched a lawsuit against the paper, which was withdrawn soon after. Hubbuch is currently out of sportswriting and his Twitter bio describes him as Former longtime sportswriter • Brooklyn real estate owner • Successful investor and punter • Budding restaurateur
ESPN – The network went wall-to-wall deflategate following the incident, and encouraged commentators such as Mark Brunell (now a high school football coach) and Bill Polian to embarrass themselves on the air, and allowed Mortensen’s inaccurate reporting stay unaltered for months. They also had hit pieces on the Patriots from the likes of Don Van Natta Jr and Seth Wickersham. They were forced to apologize on air for wrong reporting on the Spygate scandal.
In October 2015, ESPN laid off about 300 employees, another 100 in April of last year, and are expected to lay off another 100 at the end of this month. The network has dropped in households from 100.13 million in 2011 to an estimated 87.5 million households today.
Kelly Naqi – ESPN reporter attempted to start a new scandal with a report that the Patriots tried to introduce an unapproved ball into the game. The report was shot down by Adam Schefter while Naqi was on the air reporting it.
Dean Blandino – Former NFL vice president of officiating, he was in charge of the officials, including Walt Anderson during the scandal. He lied and gave conflicting statements about the sequence of events in the days following the game.
Blandino resigned from the NFL earlier this year and is now working as a rules analyst for FOX Sports.
Bill Leavy – Former NFL official who worked the game between the Jets and Patriots in October 2014, which prompted a text exchange between John Jastremski and Jim McNally over the fact that Brady was upset that the footballs which were measured at 16 PSI were too hard to grip. (I’ve often thought that if the Patriots equipment guys ever did let air out of footballs it was because of situations like this.) Brady was adamant that he wanted them at 13 PSI. Leavy talked to the Wells investigators, but his testimony did not appear in the Wells Report. (Why?)
Six months after deflategate, Leavy, who had been an NFL official for 20 years, “retired” and was reassigned to a supervisory role with the league.
Ted Wells – The man hired by Roger Goodell to
railroad investigate Tom Brady, and author of the infamous Wells Report, which has been widely discredited and roundly mocked. (Except by Patriots haters.)
Wells’ newest case is defending the Exxon Mobil Corp over the company’s climate change disclosures.
Jeff Pash – NFL legal counsel, and co-head of the investigation along with Wells. He prevented the correct PSI numbers from being released, despite pleas from the Patriots to do so.
The NFL tried to make it like Pash was not involved in the investigation to prevent him from being questioned by Brady’s attorneys. He is currently leading the NFL’s negotiations with the NFLPA for the next CBA.
Roger Goodell – The NFL commissioner enjoyed the support of team owners in his efforts to punish Tom Brady and the Patriots. He resorted to underhanded tactics, media leaks and outright lies in his investigation and punishment.
Goodell has had to stand on stage and hand the Super Bowl trophy to the Patriots and the Super Bowl MVP award to Brady twice in the last three years. He is also in a fight for his job, as a group of owners, led by Jerry Jones are seeking to oust him.
Jerry Jones – The Dallas Cowboys owner was effusive in his praise of Goodell during deflategate, even gushing that “I’m a big supporter of his. I know one of his best qualities is fairness.” According to Jonathan Kraft, Jones told Robert Kraft during deflategate to “take his medicine” and stop fighting the league.
Jones’ star running back Ezekiel Elliott was suspended for six games by Goodell this season and went apoplectic. He has threatened a lawsuit, he has tried to prevent Goodell’s new contract from being put through, and reportedly threatened Goodell by saying “If you think Bob Kraft came after you hard, Bob Kraft is a pussy compared to what I’m going to do.” The Cowboys, coming off a 13-3 season are currently 5-6 this season.
John Mara – Owner of the New York Giants and another highly influential figure in the NFL, Mara also supported Goodell publicly during deflategate, saying that the Patriots had no case and that Goodell did his job in imposing the punishment that he did.
Mara’s Giants have been plagued by scandal since deflategate, their kicker was involved in a domestic violence scandal, and Mara, who had been outspoken in the past about DV and the need for punishment, stood behind his player. The Giants were caught illegally using walkie-talkies on the sideline, and involved in a deflategate case of their own with the Pittsburgh Steelers. They’re 2-8 this season, after an 11-5 season, last year which ended after a group of players partied in Miami before their wild-card loss.
Bob McNair – The Texans owner also took his shots at the Patriots and Tom Brady, while supporting Goodell strongly in public. He claimed that the Patriots did not cooperate with the investigation (even Wells said that they cooperated fully) and that his star, JJ Watt would never destroy his phone like Brady did.
McNair had some more unfortunate remarks this year, when talking to owners about the anthem protests said that “We can’t have the inmates running the prison.” Watt has missed most of the last two seasons to injury, and the Texas also lost their extremely promising rookie QB Deshaun Watson for the season after a fantastic start.
Who else? Again, these are just the antagonists, I haven’t included members of the Patriots organization, past or present.