Indy writer: Belichick, Pats don’t deserve benefit of the doubt

Indianapolis Star columnist Gregg Doyel put Bill Belichick and the Patriots on blast in his write-up on the Wells Report.
John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

By Sam Galanis

Gregg Doyel is back, everyone.

The same Indianapolis Star columnist who brought you hot takes such as the New England Patriots are “in the same sentence” as the 1919 Chicago White Sox and “I’d love to see Super Bowl XLIX vacated” is here to weigh in on the findings of the Wells Report.

Get your popcorn ready.

Doyel, as an Indianapolis Colts writer, understandably is pretty ticked offthat attorney Ted Wells found that it was “more probable than not” that Patriots personnel intentionally deflated footballs before the 2014 AFC Championship Game against his Colts. And even though he admits that Indy couldn’t have won that game if quarterback Tom Brady was using “a foot-long pastrami” instead of a football, Doyel wants you to know that he means business.

“The point here is not that the Colts deserved to play in the Super Bowl,” Doyel writes. “The point is more basic than that: The Colts deserved better. Any team opposite the Patriots that day or some other day — what, you think this was a one-time occurrence? — deserved better than to play on a field that was tilted illegally toward New England.”

Except you just said that New England didn’t gain much of an advantage, but go on.

“That’s an outrage,” Doyel says. “And that’s what NFL commissioner Roger Goodell needs to tap into — your outrage, your hurt — when he decides how hard to punish the Patriots for it.”

No, Goodell definitely should tap into the rule book when he decides on a punishment.

Doyel goes on to convict Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who essentially was exonerated by the report, whether you want to believe that or not.

“Right here is where Belichick could use the benefit of the doubt, but — and this is unfortunate for him — he doesn’t deserve it,” Doyel says. “Spygate, all that. The NFL concluded he knowingly broke NFL rules by illegally taping the New York Jets’ sideline in 2007. Why did Belichick cheat? Ask him, or go with this: Because he’s a cheater.”

Outrage from Colts fans is expected and, unfortunately for Patriots fans, somewhat deserved. But the situation isn’t as grave as it’s been blown up to be, and Doyel’s hot take only adds to the nonsense. He also loses his credibility when he contradicts himself by referencing “the indicting — if not convicting — wording” in the Wells Report only to later say that “it never really came out and told us, definitively, what it believes.”

The moral of the story here? The NFL has enough from the Wells Report to punish the Patriots, but it should fit the crime. And years from now, DeflateGate will be a mere footnote on the Patriots’ “legacy,” so folks need to stop acting as though it’s the worst thing that’s ever happened in the history of American football.

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