Basketball and hockey are over, baseball hasn't hit its stride yet, Tiger Woods seemingly forgot how to play golf, and we still have three months left in the excruciatingly long and expertly choreographed NFL offseason. Three months. Might as well be forever. You would think that the summer sun, backyard BBQs, trips to the beach, and cold beers on warm nights would all triumph over our collective loss of America's true pastime, but we'd trade it all for a mid-season battle between Buffalo and Miami. Summer is an NFL fan's winter of discontent.
And somehow, despite Tim Tebow joining the Eagles, Russell Wilson battling with the Seahawks and his own celibacy, Jason Pierre-Paul maybe blowing his hand off (or maybe not), and a Marshawn Lynch biopic being shutdown by the film's celebrity subject, the single biggest issue that dominated the widest swaths of the offseason is still DeflateGate.
News broke two weeks before the Super Bowl that the Patriots may have been using balls with a tad too little air in them while playing the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC title game. Apparently that's the way Tom Brady likes them. The controversy attracted massive coverage across all the cable networks, and more testicle jokes than we thought possible. Brady was suspended, but the story is ongoing due to a glacially slow appeals process.
In April, Aaron Hernandez was found guilty of the first-degree murder of Odin Lloyd.
In May, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota were selected 1-2 at the NFL Draft.
Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly effectively dismantled his roster, was called a racist by former RB LeSean McCoy, and signed DeMarco Murray to replace him. DeflateGate was bigger than Kelly, the Eagles, and any personnel changes made around the league.
Alleged domestic abuser Greg Hardy (charges were dropped) won an incentive-laden contract to play for the Dallas Cowboys. People lost their minds. Jerry Jones was essentially called a harborer of wife beaters. Hardy was suspended 10 games by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell because, he was informed, an independent league investigation into his infractions revealed that Hardy inflicted serious damage to a woman, and even though a court dismissed his case, he was still guilty in the eyes of the league. DeflateGate was a bigger story.
Former mouthy New York Jets coach Rex Ryan was hired to lead the division rival Buffalo Bills. Ryan has not disappointed Bills fans with his trademark bluster and cartoonish behavior, challenging former players, spicing up the rivalry between AFC East foes, and getting people in Western New York excited about the Bills for the first time since Bruce Smith played for the team. But DeflateGate still dominated.
The Jets also brought back CB Darrelle Revis as a free agent. The Dolphins snagged DT Ndamukong Suh to a monster contract, the Colts landed a reliable RB in Frank Gore, and the Dallas Cowboys look a lot weaker after losing Murray to the rival Eagles. The offseason featured plenty of headline player movement, but no transaction was as important as under-inflated footballs from a game five months earlier.
News surfaced earlier this year that Los Angeles, without a pro football team since 1994, could soon be the home of not one but two NFL clubs. Plans are underway to build a stadium outside the city that could be the eventual home of both the Raiders and Rams. But no matter who moves to Southern California, neither team is manned by a suspended Tom Brady.
The offseason also saw many young players retire early for a variety of reasons. Star 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis hung up the pads because of injuries, teammate Chris Borland expressed concerns that playing football would have on his long-term health, Jake Locker lost the passion for the game, and Jason Worilds walked away from the NFL to pursue religious experiences. Nope. Give us more DeflateGate.
This week, Cam Newton is down under with Gatorade, learning about Australia's culture and the differences between their football rules and the brand he plays as quarterback of the Carolina Panthers. One of the first questions he was asked in a radio interview was his thoughts on DeflateGate. His response: "I have no idea." The players especially can't take it.
At the end of July, NFL teams will gather for training camp. In August, the preseason games will start. And in September, the new season will finally, mercifully kick off, putting an end to a long offseason. But it will likely start without Tom Brady, because of DeflateGate.
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