Stephen A. Smith is, he'll be quick to tell you, "a native New Yorker. I don't root for anything Boston . . . New York/Boston, you know how that goes."
But when it comes to the Patriots-are-cheaters cries -- which seem to have been amplified this week by the appearance of the Eagles in the Super Bowl -- he puts all that aside.
"I don't want to hear it. I don't want to hear the excuses," the ESPN personality said Wednesday on Felger & Mazz. "Do I believe they're cheating? No. I believe that they are better than everybody else. They've done it better than everybody else, and I have to relent to that. I have to concede that that's just the way it is."
And as for those who won't let it go . . .
"Now you've got folks that's going to call up and folks that [are] religiously focused on 'THE PATRIOTS! And they cheated! And Deflategate! And Spygate! And look at the AFC Championship Games! How many calls did they get away with?'
"I'm like, 'Oh, stop it. I don't want to hear it' . . .
"And if I'm looking at the New England Patriots . . . I've said this on many occasions and I'm going to say it again: If you're convinced that the New England Patriots are cheating . . . [why] the hell haven't you learned how to cheat like that? Why haven't you figured that out?
"I mean, according to you, they've only been doing it since 2001. We are now in 2018. Tom Brady has never, ever, ever won less than nine games in a season. And most of the time it's been 10 and above. How many AFC Championship Games have they been to? They've now been to eight Super Bowls. I mean, excuse me. How have you not learned how to cheat like that? . . .
"If that's cheating, it gets to a point where, dammit, I'm admiring it."