Speaking to a group of kids Thursday at a Denver-area football camp, the Denver Broncos breakout wide receiver said he thinks Denver's chief AFC rival should not be recognized as the Super Bowl champion after the team's role in altering the pressure of game balls in New England's 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game on Jan. 18.
When Sanders -- who nearly became a Patriot in 2013 before the Pittsburgh Steelers matched an offer sheet for the restricted free agent -- was asked by a camper whether he was mad about the scandal, he said, according to NBC 9News, "Yeah, yeah, I'm kind of mad. I don't think that they [New England] should be the Super Bowl champion this year."
Sanders, who thrived in conjunction with Peyton Manning after joining the Broncos as a free agent, continued by reinforcing to the group that cheating should never be rewarded, especially in lieu of hard work.
"You aren't supposed to cheat," Sanders said. "Cheating is not good, especially when you've got guys who are working their butts off for 365 days out of the year and one person cheats -- whether it helps them win the Super Bowl or not, they still cheated and shouldn't be a champion."
Although the findings of the league-commissioned investigation by attorney Ted Wells did not firmly charge the team with wrongdoing, the NFL levied against the Patriots a punishment of a $1 million fine and the forfeiture of two draft picks -- including a 2016 first-rounder. Quarterback Tom Brady, whose alleged involvement in the scandal surpassed the team's, was given a four-game suspension. Brady's appeal of the suspension was heard by commissioner Roger Goodell in New York on Tuesday.
Sanders and the Broncos bowed out to the Colts in the AFC divisional playoffs a week before the title game in which the deflated footballs were discovered.