In the latest 'DeflateGate' development, documents released today by the NFL revealed that the Ravens did indeed contact the Colts about suspicious balls used in the AFC Divisonal Game against versus the Patriots.
The following email, released as part of a series of exhibits in quarterback Tom Brady's federal case against the NFL, contains an exchange between Colts equipment manager Sean Sullivan and Colts GM Ryan Grigson. The message from Sullivan references Ravens Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg as a source. If you'll recall, the Ravens special teams unit had some complaints about the balls used in the game, claiming that they were "not getting their normal depth and distance" to their kicks and punts.
SBNation's Mark Sandritter breaks down the rules about the aforementioned 'K-balls' exceptionally well.
"Kicking footballs are shipped directly from the manufacturer to the official of the game. He then opens the eight balls prior to the game and a representative from each team is allowed 45 minutes to use brushes, towels and water to remove the slickness of a new ball, according to MMQB. At that point, the balls go under the control of the kicking ball coordinator. The coordinator keeps watch of the eight specially marked kicking balls during the game and works directly with the officials to get them into play, according to Newsday."
So if the Ravens did indeed not receive their 'pre-conditioned' balls, than there is certainly cause for concern.
However, Coach Harbaugh, a long-time special teams coordinator himself, chalked the "soft balls" up to the balmy New England weather.
"As far as the kicking balls, you know, it was 20 degrees outside," Harbaugh said. "The balls were softer. Our guys told us during the game, and I just chalked that up to the fact that it was cold. Both teams were kicking the same kicking balls, so I didn’t really think anything of it during the game. Other than that, it’s not something that I’ve really given any thought to at all."
Whether it was the weather, or an incorrect handling of the balls, or even both, it's not that big of a deal. The Ravens made it clear that it wasn't a big deal to them, and that the balls did not impact the end result of the game.
It's important to note that from the get-go no Ravens player or staff member alleged that the game balls the Patriots were using could have been underinflated. This has simply been misconstrued by many. The main misconception being circulated alongside this news is that Coach Harbaugh lied about the Ravens' role in 'DeflateGate'.
"I heard all that, I couldn't believe it when I heard it," Harbaugh said Sunday afternoon on NBC during a Super Bowl pregame show when asked about the reports that the Ravens called the Colts. "It’s ridiculous. It never happened. I never made any call. Nobody in our organization made any call."Just to make sure I had all the facts, I called [Colts coach] Chuck Pagano this week and asked him, ‘Did anybody else in our organization tip you off about any deflated footballs?’ And he said, ‘No way.'"
The key thing here is that as far as the public knows, the Ravens organization never had any concerns about the Patriots' footballs. The special teams coordinator, Rosburg, obviously had a little issue with how the kicking balls were handled, and was doing his due diligence to notify the Colts before one of the biggest games of the NFL season.
"there's nothing illegal/wrong/immoral/questionable about a team asking the league to confirm that nothing is being tampered with before the AFC Championship game."
- Redditor /u/hookem101horns
As Redditor user 'SickBurnBro' commented, Coordinator Rosburg's actions were "Kind of like Harry warning Cedric about the first task of the Triwizard Tournament."
In the end, 'DeflateGate' has been a never-ending disastrous chain of events. In its wake it has tarnished the reputation of the Ravens' owner, Steve Bisciotti, and the Ravens organization as a whole. Countless other individuals have also been negatively impacted by the scandal.
The whole fiasco has been epically mishandled and overblown by the league since Day 1, and most fans just want the whole damn thing to be over.
I've said it in my previous articles about the topic, but I think my words below still hold very true when it comes to my opinion of this whole charade.
'Deflategate', or 'Ballghazi' has been a disaster since the beginning. What started with petty accusations over slightly under-inflated footballs has snowballed into a four-game suspension for Tom Brady. The evidence is slim, the competitive benefit of said under-inflated footballs is small, yet the consequences were large. While it may not be the popular move, or the one that makes the league look the best, lifting the suspension is the right thing to do.
I for one, am done with 'DeflateGate' and done with the Ravens organization being dragged through the mud like this.