The New England Patriots would probably give just about anything to make the deflated football saga go away. Ravens defensive end Chris Canty believes the AFC Championship Game incident is just the latest in a pattern of rule-bending behavior from a conference rival.
"The Patriots are habitual line-steppers," Canty told NBCSN's *ProFootballTalk* on Wednesday. "If the allegations are true, then you are talking about attacking the integrity of our game and I have an issue with that.
"... What I'm going to say about the deflating of the balls, to me there is no difference than performance-enhancing drugs. You are cheating at that point. You are getting a competitive advantage outside of the rulebook and there has to be some sort of consequences for that."
Patriots coach Bill Belichick read a prepared statement to a huge gathering of reporters Thursday, claiming that he was "shocked" to learn of the NFL's investigation of overly deflated footballs allegedly used by the Patriots during their win over the Colts on Sunday. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady denied having anything to do with changes in the game footballs, which were reportedly far below league inflation standards.
"To me, the integrity of the game is the most important thing," Canty said. "You want to be successful as a player, but you want to think that you are doing things that are within the rules and that you are out there competing, and it's not, whether it is performance-enhancing drugs or deflated footballs that is out there aiding in your performance."
This story only figures to get bigger when the national media descends on the Phoenix area next week. You have to wonder how much the controversy will wear on a Patriots team that, oh yeah, has a pretty big game in nine days.
The latest Around The NFL Podcast reacts to the Patriots' deflated footballs controversy and tells you whom to trust in Super Bowl XLIX. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.