Scott Hanson: ‘Not That Egregious An Offense’

Few athletes have better command of a podium than Tom Brady. He’s got the personality, he’s got the smile, he’s got the ability to crack jokes and lighten any mood.

Well, that Tom Brady was nowhere to be found Thursday. Instead, the three-time Super Bowl winner looked as uncomfortable as could be as reporters peppered him with questions about “DeflateGate.”

“If this was any other team, I think we wouldn’t even be talking about it,” NFL Red Zone analyst Scott Hanson said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “It may have been a mention in some column on Monday, and then that would have been it – even if there was an NFL investigation going on with one of the teams. But because of the Patriots’ history and because some people just love to try and throw rocks at the guy on top, this thing’s going to linger a little bit. And you look at the explanations – or the lack of explanations – that were given for how the footballs were deflated. It seems that no physical or natural explanation would fit in this case because the Colts balls were (properly) inflated and stayed there throughout the whole game, whereas the Patriots dropped and then they had to fill them back up and whatnot.

“So it’s something that’s not going to go away any time soon,” Hanson continued. “I think Belichick and Brady did their best to try and put it on the shelf, but I found this fascinating. Belichick’s explanation or part of his reasoning or his defense for him claiming that he had no knowledge of this, of doctoring the footballs to gain an advantage, his defense was, Look, I doctor the footballs to gain an advantage – in practice. That reasoning to me was very odd and I think a lot of people missed it. He claims, Hey, you know what? I don’t give any sympathy to anyone who tells me that a game ball is not what they want it to be – because I do wet balls, slippery balls, slick balls, sticky balls in practice, so that it’s easier for these guys in the game. But what Belichick is basically saying is, I doctor the footballs – or I have them doctored – in practice to gain a competitive advantage. Well, that’s what’s being alleged here – that the footballs were doctored to gain a competitive advantage.

“Now, there’s no evidence to this point, and there’s obviously no admission or confession or anything. There’s no evidence to this point that says, ‘You know what? They absolutely did do this.’ But the NFL will be asked about this repeatedly until whatever investigation they’re doing yields its results – and it’s a good old little sidebar story leading up to the biggest game in American sports.”

But are Belichick and Brady actually innocent? Should we believe them?

“In our country, in our court of law, (it’s) innocent until proven guilty,” Hanson said. “The court of public opinion – and specifically in this case, the court of sports public opinion – does not operate like that. They’re in a ‘Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me’ mindset. And again, because of the history of the Patriots – and in particular, Belichick – I think people jump to the conclusion that this guy will cut corners or tap dance in the gray areas.

“Do I think deflating a football a couple pounds is that egregious an offense? I don’t think so. Because the officiating crew claims they were re-inflated or inflated to (regulation) at halftime, and the Patriots scored 28 points after the half. After (Spygate) broke and the punishment was meted out, that was when they went on their 16-0 run and pummeled everyone across the NFL. So I don’t believe that they’re cheating and gaining an advantage and that’s why they’re consistently good, (but) I do think they have more questions to answer (about this).”

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