FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- On Wednesday, we produced an "all thoughts in one place" entry on the topic of the New England Patriots and underinflated footballs. Two days later, after hearing from coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, let's do it again.
Still many unanswered questions: Despite a rush to judgment in some circles, there is incomplete information to analyze. This is the challenge of the 24/7 news cycle. Unfortunately, that hasn't stopped some from publicly questioning the integrity of Brady -- which, from this viewpoint, has crossed the line based on the credible information available.
Following up on Schefter's words: On Thursday morning, ESPN.com NFL Insider Adam Schefter said the following on "SportsCenter": "My understanding is that the league has had a tough time getting somebody to substantiate everything. Now, the footballs are the footballs. We have the evidence and they've found that some of the footballs were underinflated or deflated. But to figure out the process, who's responsible, why this happened, my understanding is that it's been difficult for the league to ascertain those facts so far. ... I think the feeling all week long has been that it may be until after the Super Bowl that we have any announcement of any discipline, if there is any that does come forward in this particular case."
Focus shifts to the NFL: The league is not commenting on its review at this point. Brady said Thursday that the league has not contacted him, which is somewhat curious. From this viewpoint, that's where the obvious focus should shift. By acknowledging its investigation in the first place, the NFL has given this story a tidal wave of momentum the past five days. Some more information and transparency from the NFL on what it has, what it's looking for, and its process (pregame, during the game, postgame) would add critical context to the discussion at a time when personal reputations and the brand of one of its franchises are at stake. That is, unless the NFL likes the idea that talk of deflated footballs is leading national network newscasts and adds an element of drama in the buildup to Super Bowl XLIX.
Belichick's news conference: The way Belichick approached his Thursday news conference was a surprise. The feeling here was that he would open by talking about the Seahawks, the great challenge they present, and then mention something at the end of the opening statement about the deflated footballs and how he can't comment based on a league investigation. That would have been consistent with his approach in most situations like these. Instead, he was detailed and addressed the issue head-on. It felt like he put all his cards on the table.
Brady's news conference: The general sense from this viewpoint was that media members thought Brady was going to "fall on the sword" during his news conference. When he didn't, that led to a negative backlash in some circles. While everyone is searching for answers, that doesn't seem fair. The first question asked of this reporter in a radio interview on Thursday night was: "Do you believe Brady?" The answer: In 15 years covering Brady, there has been no reason to question his integrity. We should wait for some more information, specifically from the NFL, before we jump to this level of discussion.
A big disappointment: That sums up any personal feelings here. Also, it's time for the NFL to step up. If the Patriots are found guilty of any wrongdoing, hold them accountable and let's move on to talk about the game. If there is no evidence of wrongdoing at this point, say it, mention that the review is ongoing, and let's move on to talk about the game.