Art Rooney II on latest Patriots flap and LeGarrette Blount

PITTSBURGH -- Art Rooney II weighed in on two subjects that are outside of Pittsburgh but have roiled Steelers' fans nonetheless: reports, including one from ESPN, that the New England Patriots may have illegally gained an advantage over an opponent and running back LeGarrette Blount's reward for abandoning the Steelers.

The Patriots' 45-7 drubbing of the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game -- and another crack for quarterback Tom Brady at an elusive fourth Super Bowl title -- has been clouded by lingering suspicion hanging over an organization that has already been busted for cheating.

The Patriots, who were punished for illegally videotaping opponents by the NFL in 2007, face less serious accusations as far as manipulating the air pressure in footballs used in their blowout win over the Colts.

But the Patriots have never been able to completely wash away the stench from Spygate, and the mounting evidence that they may have cheated again could lead to some significant repercussions and at least tarnish coach Bill Belichick's legacy.

Here is what Rooney, the Steelers' president, said when I asked him if the NFL needs to come down hard on the Patriots, if it is determined they cheated, because of past behavior: "Let's put it this way: I think the league will have to impose some discipline if they determine what's being reported as fact. I haven't talked to anybody up there myself so I have no idea what is reality and what is not at this point. But if it happened, it's a violation of the rules and I'm sure the league will impose some kind of discipline."

Blount, who signed a two-year contract with the Steelers almost a year ago, violated one of the basic codes among teammates when he left the sidelines before a 27-24 win over the Tennessee Titans last November.

Blount, unhappy about his diminishing role in the offense, went to the Steelers' locker room before they had beaten Tennessee after he did not receive a carry against the Titans.

Never mind that Le'Veon Bell rushed for a career-high 204 yards against the Titans and that Bell was Blount's best friend on the team.

The Steelers wasted little time in waiving the discontented Blount and the Patriots re-signed the fifth-year veteran in late November.

Blount emerged as the Patriots' best back late in the season -- just as he did in 2013 -- and is one victory away from winning a Super Bowl title.

Despite the success of Blount -- and the Steelers' need for a quality backup after Bell hyperextended his right knee in the regular-season finale -- Rooney has no regrets with how Pittsburgh handled the Blount situation.

"Obviously we don't want to have those kind things happen in the middle of the season but it is what it is and I think we made the decision [to release Blount] for the right reasons," Rooney said. "Not going to worry about it too much. We just have to make sure that we make a better decision this year and fill that position with someone we're comfortable with and who will be a good fit."