Deflategate. The Intentional distraction we can't let the NFL get away with

Usually, I'm not one to put on the tin foil hat. Sure, I like most red-blooded Americans love to indulge myself in the occasional Alien or Sasquatch hunt from time to time, but I'm not really one to buy into the theories themselves. So it's been a weird experience to have spent the past few weeks feeling like there's something a little more to this Deflate Gate story.

Let me cut to the chase - I believe that the NFL purposely leaked this story to create a distraction from all the other terrible things they would've had to address else wise; the utter incompetence they showed throughout the Ray Rice investigation, the frightening Adrian Peterson child abuse scandal, the improving! concussion issues, or the fact that the league perpetually avoids paying taxes while owners continue to force citizens to pay for their luxury stadiums, just to name a few.

Nope. Instead the league talked about whether the New England Patriots were playing with footballs that weren't properly inflated, and if so, if it happened while a ball boy took a detour in the restroom.

I understand this is Conspiracy Theorist 101. A single, convenient fact - in this case that, yes, the NFL spent most of it's time addressing this issue over the more damaging ones - with a narrative designed around it to try to make it seem like something more. But even the world's greatest skeptic has to admit there's a pretty compelling narrative around this case.

Here's what we know now as we near the end of this story.

According to two of the league's top reporters - FOX's Jay Glazer and ESPN's Ed Werder - the NFL received a tip about the Pats underinflating balls, and more or less decided to run a sting operation to try and catch the team red-handed in the AFC Conference Championship. Except, they didn't actually totally check the balls out ahead of time, as no balls were actually logged.

That part of the story tells us one of two things, either the NFL is really, truly inept - and to be fair, we've got a decent amount of evidence that they're not the best at investigations - or, if you're falling in line with my thinking, they created a 'scandal' that they knew wasn't punishable.  Honestly, it's an either/or situation - Either they're really, truly awful at running sting operations or they wanted to create a distraction that would ultimately end in nothingness. There are literally no other options here

Combine that with what we found out  late Saturday night,'s Ian Rappaport reports that the NFL's investigation found that only one ball was significantly below the now infamous 12.5 PSI minimum, "Many of them were just a few ticks under the minimum."

This, if true, is the part of the story that I just can't shake. Because it means that the NFL could've squashed this story as soon as it surfaced. A simple statement, or a request for Chris Mortensen to write a retraction, and this story isn't leading the national news for nearly two straight weeks. Bill Bellichick isn't running an impromptu science class on a Saturday afternoon. Deflategate, Ballghazi or whatever you'd like to call isn't a 'thing.'

And that's why I keep coming back to my original theory; I can't understand why the NFL wouldn't squash a very squashable story during it's two biggest weeks of the season unless they wanted it to be out there. Or, at the very least, they really didn't mind the opportunity to not talk about domestic violence, concussions and/or their tax exemption status in front of millions and let it continue.

Within hours of it happening they knew they blew the investigation. They knew the measurements of the balls two days before the story leaked. They knew more than enough to know this should be a complete non-story. They knew they could've made all of it go away. But they let it build and build to the point where the actual Super Bowl game was an afterthought.

Given every chance to shut down this circus, they chose to let it continue operate.

------- ----
Matt Richissin is a guest contributor from CelticsLife