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NFL’s swift response to DeflateGate II worked, but should it have?

Mike Florio explains why the recent report about deflated balls in Pittsburgh could put the NFL in a bind if the league's reaction is different from how they treated the situation with the Patriots.

Say what you will about the NFL’s recent self-inflicted P.R. wounds; the league office crafted a masterpiece on Sunday. With a single technically-accurate-but-grossly-misleading statement, the NFL managed to take the steam out of DeflateGate II before it could ever gather very much of it.

The media, collectively weary of the original air-pressure controversy and apparently unwilling to spend time and effort sifting through another one, embraced the league’s statement, accepting the league’s loaded comment at face value at a time when so little said by the league on matters of controversy and contention can ever be accepted at face value.

To that I say: Really?

Jay Glazer of FOX reported that the Giants did indeed alert the league to a pair of Pittsburgh footballs that were believed to be under inflated. PFT has confirmed the accuracy of Glazer’s report. The fact that there was no “formal complaint” from the Giants doesn’t mean it didn’t happen -- it means only that the league will be able to ignore the situation.

The league wants to ignore the situation because there’s no way to explain that the footballs used by the Steelers on a cold day in December naturally would be under 12.5 PSI without conceding that the footballs used by the Patriots on a cold day in January naturally would be under 12.5 PSI. It’s the same reason for the league’s stubborn refusal to release raw data from PSI spot checks conducted the past two seasons; surely, there have been games during which external air temperature caused internal air pressure to plunge below a mandatory minimum about which the NFL never even cared (and barely even noticed) until it provided the template for punishing the Patriots.

The comments from people like Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and Giants coach Ben McAdoo underscore the reality that something happened. Why else would Tomlin express a willingness to cooperate with New York if there’s nothing about which to cooperate? And why else would McAdoo admit that the Giants checked the air pressure in footballs -- and then shared the results with him -- if there was nothing potentially amiss?

The only thing truly amiss was the failure of the Giants to realize that a reasonable explanation existed for their concerns. In the end, however, the situation will be barely a blip on the league’s radar screen, primarily because many in the media, frankly, lack the curiosity or commitment to explore the gaping rabbit hole that Glazer discovered.