It’s clear now that it will be a long time before we stop hearing about DeflateGate. For one thing, the NFL is appealing a federal judge’s overturning of Tom Brady’s suspension, meaning that, if the league wins, the Patriots quarterback could still be forced to sit out four games, one of which theoretically could be the Super Bowl.
Another, very plausible, scenario presumes that Brady takes New England to a second straight Super Bowl victory, leading to the delicious spectacle of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell having to hand the Lombardi Trophy to a pair of folks who clearly despise him, Brady and Patriots owner Robert Kraft. In any event, this entire season appears to be playing out like a months-long Revenge Tour by the quarterback, as well as Coach Bill Belichick, and many feel we have DeflateGate to thank for the team’s razor-like focus on defending its title.
So, as long as we’re still talking about it, who better to opine on the matter than Larry Bird? In this regard, Bird is a very interesting position, as an icon in both Boston and the capital city of DeflateGate-driven anti-Patriots fervor, Indianapolis.
Given that the Pacers, for whom Bird serves as president of basketball operations, were visiting the Celtics on Wednesday, Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy thought it would be a good idea to give Larry Legend a call. It was.
Bird provided some eye-opening comments about DeflateGate, essentially calling Indianapolis media figure Bob Kravitz a liar. For those who don’t recall how this whole saga got started, Kravitz first broke the news that the NFL was investigating whether the Patriots intentionally deflated their footballs before January’s AFC championship game.
Here is what Bird had to say about that to Shaughnessy:
“I thought it was a bunch of lying, if you want to know the truth,” said Bird. “That’s something Kravitz came up with, and I never believed any of it.
“It doesn’t really matter. It was written about a lot around the country, but here in Indianapolis, most people knew. We knew the Patriots was going to beat them anyway. I thought it was pretty chintzy. People finally realized they would have beat us anyway. I just laughed about it.
“They got the footballs they played with and we got our footballs. And their footballs beat our footballs.”
Strong stuff from Bird. It’s one thing to say, as many people have, that the Patriots, who beat the Colts 45-7, would have easily won no matter what condition the footballs were in. It’s another to call a respected columnist — in the city in which he works — a liar.
It’s apparent that Bird doesn’t exactly have warm feelings toward Kravitz, and the opposite is likely true, as well, if a July column by Kravitz is any indication. In it, he wrote that the Pacers chief “enjoys tweaking us [in the Indianapolis media] just for fun.” Kravitz also strongly implied that, in a matter relating to former Pacer David West, Bird “fudged the truth,” so perhaps the Globe comments simply constituted tit-for-tat.
It’s also apparent from Bird’s remarks to Shaughnessy that his years playing for the Celtics made him a huge fan of all the squads there. “I never root against the Boston teams,” Bird told the Globe columnist. “… It’s unbelievable out there, and my gratitude to the fans out there is that I’d never root against them because I know how important sports are to them.”
“I watch every one of the Colts games,” Bird added. “I really like them. But my son loves all things about the Patriots. And I never root against the Patriots.”
Presumably, a large segment of Colts fans also reveres Bird, an Indiana native who led Indiana State to the NCAA championship game in 1979, and who has also earned both NBA Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year honors for his work with the Pacers. Those fans, especially ones who would rather not believe that Kravitz made the whole thing up, will just have to get past the basketball icon’s take on DeflateGate.