CHESTNUT HILL -- By now, this has become the rule: Whenever football is discussed in New England, regardless of the specific topic, at some point, perhaps during a lull in conversation, Deflategate will come up.
That happened on Wednesday at Boston College when former Eagles quarterback and current Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was asked about Tom Brady and his focus on football despite an ongoing legal battle with the league.
"That's tough, but Tom's as good as anybody at eliminating noise and being able to focus on being productive and playing at a high level," Ryan told reporters one day after BC announced it would retire his jersey. "He's done it for such a long time, it's really impressive. Obviously everybody can learn from that. He's a great competitor, great player, and has been doing at a high level for a really long time."
Ryan spent the 2003-2007 seasons at Boston College, about a 40-minute drive from Foxboro as Brady and the Patriots put together a pair of Super Bowl title runs and an undefeated regular season. Now a competitor of Brady's and a fellow players union member, Ryan says he has followed the ball-deflation saga -- which has lasted well over a year -- only loosely.
"Obviously that's a hot-button issue here in New England but also across the league," Ryan said. "I don't know enough about the particulars of the situation. I really don't. I think everybody rushes to judgment sometimes in certain ways. I don't know enough about it. Certainly we've heard about it ad nauseum. But I don't know enough about it.
"As far as our union side of it, this is what they're there for, to help you in situations where you need help, and I think they've done the appropriate thing on that."
Brady is currently waiting on a decision from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals as to whether or not it will grant him a rehearing that would delay -- and potentially overturn -- the four-game suspension issued by the league.