TIME Soccer

Soccer Star Alex Morgan: Sepp Blatter Didn’t Know Who I Was

FIFA president Joseph S. Blatter, Alex Morgan and French actor Gerard Depardieu during the red carpet arrivals at the FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala 2012 at the Kongresshaus on Jan. 7, 2013 in Zurich.
Alexander Hassenstein—FIFA via Getty Images FIFA president Joseph S. Blatter, Alex Morgan and French actor Gerard Depardieu during the red carpet arrivals at the 2012 FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala in Zurich.

Morgan calls Blatter's failure to recognize her at FIFA World Player of the Year event "shocking"

Controversial FIFA president Sepp Blatter, whose tenure atop world soccer’s governing body has been pockmarked by scandal, recently called himself “a godfather” of women’s soccer. That’s particularly amusing, considering that a group of top women’s players recently sued FIFA for gender discrimination. And that U.S. star Alex Morgan–who has nearly 1.7 million Twitter followers, tops among women soccer players–says she once went unrecognized by Blatter at an event honoring the world’s top players.

In an interview with TIME, Morgan was asked if she’s had to deal with sexism and misogyny.

“I have experienced sexism multiple times, and I’m sure I will a lot more,” she said. “I feel like I’m fighting for female athletes. At the FIFA World Player of the Year event [in 2012], FIFA executives and FIFA president Sepp Blatter didn’t know who I was. And I was being honored as top three in the world. That was pretty shocking.”

The women sued FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association because the upcoming World Cup, which kicks off June 6, is being contested on artificial turf. Many players detest this surface, saying it leads to more injuries, and disrupts the tempo of the game. No men’s World Cup has even been played on turf. The players dropped the complaint in January. Their attorney said they wanted to shift the focus from the controversy to World Cup preparation.

Morgan’s full interview — 10 Questions With Alex Morgan — appears in the June 1 edition of TIME, on newsstands now. Subscribers can read it here. Subscribe to TIME here.

FIFA’s presidential election is May 29; Blatter is running for a fifth term. Two rivals just pulled out of the contest.

TIME Television

David Letterman’s Top 10 Sports Moments

Highlights include Larry and Magic, training with the Yankees and Buddy Biancalana

Luckily for sports fans, David Letterman has long loved the games—he even co-owns an IndyCar racing team. In his 33 years on TV, he’s interviewed countless big-name athletes, and done many goofy bits involving sports. As he signs off on Wednesday night, here’s a top 10 list for Letterman and sports:

10. Little Buddy

As Pete Rose chased Ty Cobb’s all-time hit record in 1985, Letterman poked a little fun at diminutive Kansas City Royals shortstop Buddy Biancalana, who finished his career a .205 hitter. But Biancalana was stellar (for him) in the 1985 World Series, hitting .278 over seven games, and after KC won it all, Biancalana appeared on Late Night for some self-deprecating fun.

9. The Nash Report

Letterman knew when to enlist others for comedy help—look no further than Rupert Jee. Here, Steve Nash covers the 2009 NBA Finals, between the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic, for the Late Show, and asks analyst Jeff Van Gundy a pretty, er, direct question about his brother, Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy.

8. Albert Achievement Awards

For those of us who grew up without cable or ESPN—some of us really did—Marv Albert’s Letterman appearances were the only place to see sports bloopers. Earlier this year, Marv picked out his all-time favorite follies. Yes!

7. Revenge Pitch

In 1985, Letterman called Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Terry Forster a “fat tub of goo.” Later in the year, Forster paid Letterman a visit, sporting what could only be a 1981 World Series ring, thank you very much (Forster pitched for the champion Los Angeles Dodgers that season). Forster entered the studio chomping on a “David Letterman” sandwich. “It had a lot of tongue on it,” he said.

6. Loosening Larry and Magic

Later in Letterman’s career, he became a master conversationalist, more willing and able to put subjects at ease. He puts his skills on display in this interview with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird a few years back, probing the dynamics of their relationship. Magic, more outgoing, was inclined to be friendly with his rival; Bird, an introvert, wanted none of it. “He’s got that big smile,” Bird said of Magic. “My goal is to take three of them teeth home with me.”

5. Oh, So That’s How You Do It!

In 1987, Minnesota Twins knuckleballer Joe Niekro was suspended for 10 days after an emery board flew out of his pocket while the umps searched him for suspicious items. So naturally, Niekro went on Letterman to show how to scuff a baseball—while coyly denying he did it that night.

4. Cubs Win!

Will Ferrell broke out his Harry Caray imitation in a recent appearance: the legendary Cubs broadcaster asked “what are we going to do about this wall in Berlin?” and shouted the names of players who haven’t been on the Cubs in years. “And the 2-0 pitch is in there to Dunston, strike on the corner!”

3. Spring Training

Dave heads up to Yankee Stadium in 1992 to workout with Yanks manager Buck Showalter and coach Frank Howard. They discuss the fine art of spitting.

2. Olympic Mom

During the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, dispatches from Dorothy Mengering—Letterman’s mom—became appointment TV. Her gentle midwestern demeanor, insistence on calling Letterman “David,” and dry, one-sentence answers to her son’s nagging questions made Mengering an ideal foil. “Tonya! Tonya!” Mengering shouted, barely audible, while Tonya Harding stood a few feet away. She also scored a sit-down interview with Nancy Kerrigan. “Would you like cocoa?” she asked.

1. Baseball Biff

Speaking of comic foils, for my money nobody beats Letterman stagehand Biff Henderson, especially when he interacted with athletes. Somehow, Letterman convinced the staid, secretive New York Yankees to let their home ballpark become a Late Night/Late Show playground. And Biff took advantage: a few hours before a 1998 World Series game—a World Series game!—he was on hand to ask silly questions and lead “Yanni” chants. For viewers, his laryngitis was well worth it.


Read next: Everything You Need to Know About David Letterman’s Last Show


Why the Tom Brady Suspension Is Ridiculous

Given the thin evidence tying Brady directly to Deflategate, a four-game suspension makes little sense

Tom Brady and his people haven’t exactly carried themselves with aplomb during this whole Deflategate episode. Earlier this year, in a pre-Super Bowl news conference, Brady tried to deflect the seriousness of New England’s alleged air pressure tampering during January’s AFC title game by bringing terrorists into the conversation. That’s never a good idea. (“This isn’t ISIS,” Brady said. “You know, no one’s dying.”) Brady refused to hand over any text or email records during attorney Ted Wells’ investigation, even though Wells was prepared to let Brady’s lawyer control the production of such records—a layup for the defense if there ever was one.

Also, it sure seems like Brady sold out a powerless locker room lackey when he told investigators that he did not even know the identity of Jim McNally, the man accused of carrying out the deflation deed. And Brady’s agent called the flaws of Wells report, which concluded that the Pats star was likely “generally aware” of the deflation scheme, “tragic.” Again, never a good idea introducing such a word into a discussion on psi.

So it’s tempting to cheer the comeuppance of Tom Brady, the all-too-perfect quarterback of the NFL’s most villainous team. The NFL suspended him Monday, without pay, for four regular season games, while fining the Pats a million bucks and taking away the team’s first-round draft pick in 2016, and fourth-rounder in 2017. But please resist cheering the NFL’s sentence. Because it’s ridiculous.

For what it’s worth, I’m not from Boston, and not a Pats fan. But while you and I may bet that Brady did at least tacitly sign off on puncturing the footballs, the evidence in the Wells report directly trying Brady to Deflategate is thin. Wells largely bases his conclusion on the fact that Brady made a bunch of phone calls to equipment assistant John Jastremski after the controversy went public; Brady had not called the guy in the prior six months. Were they getting their stories straight? Maybe. But is it plausible that Brady was just insanely curious to find out what Jastremski knew, given the story was spiraling out of control, and many people were labeling Brady a cheat? Totally.

Bottom line: this penalty is convenient for the NFL. So what if Roger Goodell peeves off Pats fans, and even Brady? If he had let Brady off easy, on the other hand, he’d have to hear howls from other team owners, the press and millions of fans across the country that he was just protecting Pats owner Robert Kraft—Goodell’s most visible defender during the Ray Rice mess—and the NFL’s biggest star.

Instead, he gets to be the tough guy. He’ll even stand up to Tom Brady, darnit, and teach him a lesson. It’s actually pretty easy to pick on the cool kid. You don’t come across as a bully. (Brady’s agent said Monday evening he will appeal the penalty.)

“Your actions as set forth in the report clearly constitute conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the game of professional football,” NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent wrote in a letter to Brady. The NFL always nails sanctimony. This is a sport that all but ignored a public health crisis—head injuries—or decades. Confidence leaked long ago.

Brady deserves a little stain on his “legacy” for this. After all, Joe Montana didn’t need deflation. Let the sports bars say he’s a fraud. But don’t keep him on the sidelines to send a hollow message, when you just don’t have the goods.

Read next: 6 Surreal Takeaways From the Deflategate Report

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Athletes

U.S. Ranks Worst in Sports Homophobia Study

Will gay athletes find acceptance on the field?

Throughout most of high school, Michael Martin—a senior at Musselman High School in Inwood, W. Va.—kept his sexuality hidden from his soccer teammates. “I was afraid I would get harassed, tormented, made fun of a lot,” said Martin, who knew he was gay since middle school. “I wasn’t afraid of physical abuse necessarily. But I thought guys would do stuff like throw the ball at me. On purpose.” Martin says he heard the word faggot all too many times.

According to new research released on Saturday, Martin is far from alone. The study, entitled “Out On The Fields” and billed as “the first international study on homophobia in sport,” is a survey of nearly 9,500 people, mostly from six countries (the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand). The researchers found that 80% of all participants and 82% of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) participants “said they have witnessed or experienced homophobia in sport.” Of those reporting personal experience with homophobia, 84% of gay men and 82% of lesbians said they had received verbal slurs like faggot and dyke. Also, 81% of gay men and 74% of lesbians who were under 22 at the time of the study reported being completely or partially in the closet to teammates while playing youth sports. Nearly half of gay men and 32% of lesbians hid their sexuality while playing youth sports because they feared rejection by teammates. Only 1% of all participants believed LGB people were “completely accepted” in sports culture; 78% said that an openly gay, lesbian or bisexual person would not be very safe as a spectator at a sporting event.

“Unfortunately,” the authors wrote, “the study found few positive signs in any country that LGB people are welcome and safe playing team sports.”

(Participants in the study were not asked whether they identified as transgender, as experts consider transphobia and homophobia distinct forms of discrimination in sports, and the researchers decided to focus the study on sexuality rather than gender identity.)

The study found the U.S. had the highest percentage of gay men reporting that they had received verbal threats in a sports environment, and the highest percentage of gay men who heard slurs. In fact, of the six countries surveyed, the U.S. ranked worst in sports homophobia and discrimination, as measured by the “inclusion score” developed by the researchers. (Canada had the highest score, followed by Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., Ireland and the U.S.) “It’s sad that the U.S. fared so poorly,” said Pat Griffin, professor emerita in social justice education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a member of the academic team that advised the study authors. “It feels like we’ve made a lot of progress with the acceptance of homosexuality in sports. But going by these results, we have a long way to go.”

The “Out On The Fields” report comes with caveats. Though the project’s academic consultants insist that they reviewed the survey methodology and results, it’s not a peer-reviewed paper published in an established journal. The lead author is a former journalist who’s a member of the Sydney Convicts Rugby Union Club, Australia’s first gay rugby team. Joshua Newman, a sports sociologist from Florida State University who is unaffiliated with this project, reviewed the document for TIME. “The recruitment and sampling technique used likely resulted in a significant over-representation of higher-earning, racial- and ethnic-majority, pro-LGBT respondents to the study,” Newman writes in an email. “Are those representative of the broader populations in the English-speaking world more generally?”

Despite its flaws, Newman wrote, “I am inclined to say that the findings are important and the study holds the potential provide a significant contribution. This is the largest study of its kind yet to be undertaken. The results illustrate the extent to which LGB sport participants across multiple nations share common experiences of harassment, bullying, and even physical violence. It reaffirms what most LGB and straight athletes in these contexts already know, that homophobic language and action remain effective techniques for normalizing heteronormative masculinity in the sports domain. If we are going to take issues of (in)equality and civil rights seriously, this study reminds us that there’s no better place to start than on the sports field.”

Jason Collins, the first openly gay active athlete in the four major U.S. sports, has witnessed the power of sports firsthand. As more athletes come out, Collins thinks attitudes and behavior will change. “When I was in the closet, I would hear homophobic language in the locker room,” said Collins, who came out in 2013 and spent part of the 2014 season with the Brooklyn Nets. “However, when I came out, not one of my teammates ever used homophobic comments. It’s hard to change habits, it’s hard to change people’s language. But it is possible.”

Collins believes that sports homophobia would decline if Michael Sam—the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team, now a free agent—got a shot. “We need Michael Sam to play in the NFL,” said Collins. “I know he’s been training hard. We just need an owner, a coach, one of the NFL teams to give him an opportunity.” Why is Sam so crucial? “The NFL is very popular in this country,” said Collins. “Just to have his example, as an openly gay NFL player, going out there making plays, helping his team win—it’s another example of somebody living their authentic life. And hopefully it would encourage other NFL players who are in the closet to come forward.”

The study found that many gay athletes chose to stay in the closet because they fear rejection from teammates. Arizona State backup offensive lineman Chip Sarafin, who last year became the first active college football player at a major program to publicly announce he was gay—Sam only told his Missouri teammates—found acceptance. “As long as you put forth the effort,” said Sarafin, “people won’t care about your sexuality.”

What advice do gay athletes have for younger players struggling with their sexuality in sports? “Don’t quit,” said John Fennell, an Olympic luge athlete from Canada who came out to teammates in Russia, of all places, during the Sochi Games. “All too often I hear about talented gay athletes who leave sports because they don’t feel welcome. But they do belong. If I had given up sports, I would have wound up on a very different path. Sports shaped the person I am. My tenacity, ability to set goals and achieve them—I attribute that to my success in sports.”

“My advice is that there’s a lot of love and support waiting for you when you live your authentic life,” said Collins. “I understand everyone has their own path. Trust me, it took me 33 years of my life before I told another human being the words ‘I am gay.’ I hope all of them get to that point of self-acceptance.”

Michael Martin, the high school soccer player from West Virginia, arrived there this fall. He finally told his teammates he was gay—and danced with his boyfriend in front of the school. He has no regrets. “I feel like I played completely better with that weight off my shoulder,” said Martin. “It’s an uplifting feeling. I’m so glad I did it.”

TIME Football

6 Surreal Takeaways From the Deflategate Report

Super Bowl XLIX - New England Patriots v Seattle Seahawks
Kevin C. Cox—Getty Images Tom Brady during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on February 1, 2015.

Besides its actual existence

Give Ted Wells, the NFL-appointed attorney who produced Wednesday’s investigative report about Deflategate, a little credit. Some sections of 243-page (including appendices) document read like a real caper: hours before kickoff in the AFC championship game on Jan. 18, referees measure football air pressure in their locker room and exit to take care of some pre-game business, only to return to find that—ahhhh!—the footballs have disappeared. Where did they go? Into a Gillette Stadium bathroom, that’s where. What happened in there? We can’t say for sure, but the investigators believe it is “more probable than not” that a Patriots locker room attendant, Jim McNally, stuck a needle in 13 footballs, letting some air out of them and breaking NFL rules.

Deflategate has always been pretty ridiculous—even though it’s not cool, at all, that the Pats likely cheated. This report, and some of the reaction to it, highlights some of the insanity. A few examples:

1. That’s Not Tom Brady. It’s The Ticket Guy. The report pins Deflategate on two Pats employees: McNally and John Jastremski, the equipment assistant who’s in charge of preparing the balls that Brady uses in games. (The report says Brady was likely at least “generally aware” of the scheme.) During New England’s game against the New York Jets on Oct. 16, Brady complained that the balls were overinflated. “Tom sucks,” McNally—nicknamed “Bird” in Jastremski’s phone—texted to Jastremski. “i’m going to make that next ball a fu-king balloon.” McNally is tasked with attending to the referee’s locker room, and bringing the game balls to the field. Why would he reference anything to do with football air pressure? One minute and 23 seconds later, Jastremski replied: “Talked to him last night. He actually brought you up and said you must have a lot of stress trying to get them done.” Jastremski followed with two more messages to McNally: “I told him it was. He was right though…I checked some of the balls this morn …The refs fu-ked us … a few of then were at almost 16.”

Both McNally and Jastremski claimed that “him” and “he” referenced in the second and third messages did not refer to “Tom”—indisputably Brady—but a friend of Jastremski who could help McNally sell unused Pats season tickets. That, according to the Deflategate suspects, was the source of “stress.” Not tampering with footballs. So they want you to believe that two relatively low-level Pats employees begin a text conversation referencing the team’s superstar, then suddenly start talking about a “he” that does not refer to the team’s superstar, and then end the conversation referring back to football air pressure—which was “almost 16″ pounds-per-square-inch (psi), way overinflated—and obliquely recalling the superstar’s displeasure. If this is true, that’s some of the strangest pronoun usage ever.

Wells didn’t buy it. Do you? I’m betting the odds are, hell no.

2. The NFL Knew! Or at least got a head’s up. The day before the AFC championship game, Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson sent an email to NFL operations officials. In the email was a note from the team’s equipment manager:

As far as the gameballs are concerned it is well known around the league that after the Patriots gameballs are checked by the officials and brought out for game usage the ballboys for the patriots will let out some air with a ball needle because their quarterback likes a smaller football so he can grip it better, it would be great if someone would be able to check the air in the game balls as the game goes on so that they don‟t get an illegal advantage.

Now, at the time, this probably sounded like a nutty conspiracy theory. The report notes that the Colts had no factual support to back up their suspicions. But still … shouldn’t this raise at least a little alarm? Since this was, after all, the AFC championship game, couldn’t the NFL have assigned someone—anyone—to supervise the balls prior to the game? Just don’t let them out of your sight. If such a hawkeye was on duty, no way could McNally have slipped into the bathroom with the footballs. “Excuse me, Jim,” Hawkeye (let’s just give this imaginary football surveillance pro this name) would have said, as McNally entered the restroom. “Please leave the balls out here.” To think: Deflategate was utterly preventable.

3. Robert Kraft’s Reaction. In a statement on Wednesday, New England’s owner stuck to his story: I don’t believe any of this. “To say we are disappointed in its findings, which do not include any incontrovertible or hard evidence of deliberate deflation of footballs at the AFC Championship game,” Kraft said, “would be a gross understatement.” No surprise that Kraft defended his team. But one section of Kraft’s five-paragraph missive at best, misses the point, and at worst, is nakedly disingenuous. “What is not highlighted in the text of the report is that three of the Colts’ four footballs measured by at least one official were under the required psi level,” Kraft said.

Okay, but what’s not highlighted in this statement is that two officials measured the psi of these four Colts balls at halftime. For all four balls, at least one official found that the psi was above the required 12.5 level. Secondly, the Colts’ raw measurement is irrelevant. Even New England’s convoluted physics—remember Bill Belichick’s news conference on all that?—recognize that when a ball moves from a controlled climate like a locker room into the cold of the AFC championship game, air pressure decreases. “Now, we all know that air pressure is a function of the atmospheric conditions,” Belichick said at his physics lesson.

What is relevant—and also missing from the statement—is the difference in air pressure drops between New England’s balls and Indy’s balls. And the data shows that New England’s balls dropped at a higher and statistically significant rate. Wells’ teams called on science experts to replicate conditions that could explain New England’s drop. They couldn’t do it. The most plausible explanation is human tampering.

4. Tom Brady Sr.’s Reaction. We understand, and appreciate, fatherly love. After the report’s release, Brady Sr. defended his son—as any good dad would do. But even dad can take things too far. “The league had to cover themselves,” Brady Sr. told USA Today. “The reality is they had no conclusive evidence. This was Framegate right from the beginning.” With all due repect, Mr. Brady, the NFL has no real incentive to “frame” its most marketable celebrity. It gives Roger Goodell no pleasure that the report suggests Brady knew about deflation—and did nothing to stop it. Goodell’s best buds with Kraft. He won’t create a reason to punish Kraft’s team, and maybe suspend its Hall of Fame quarterback.

5. Vigorous Rubbing. In the appendix, one section of a report from scientific consulting firm Exponent is entitled “Vigorous Rubbing.” Come on, all Deflategate stories must provide a requisite giggle. In the section, Exponent debunks Belichick’s theory that the “rubbing process” on the football could explain the illegal psi.

6. Tom Brady as Liar. The report does offer Brady some deniability—it acknowledges the lack of hard proof tying him directly to Deflategate. But Wells leaves little doubt that he thinks Brady lied to investigators. Jastremski said that Brady knew McNally; Brady said that prior to the AFC title game, “he did not know McNally’s name or anything about McNally’s game-day responsibility.” The report calls Brady’s claims here “not plausible.”

So, now on record is a 243-page report, commissioned by the NFL, which labels its all-time quarterback a liar.

Surreal, indeed.

Read next: Read 6 Text Message Conversations in the Deflategate Report


‘Deflategate’ Probe Finds Patriots Employees Likely Tampered With Balls

New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady talks to the media during a press conference to address the under inflation of footballs used in the AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
Maddie Meyer—Getty Images Tom Brady talks during a press conference at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., on Jan. 22, 2015

And Tom Brady was probably "at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities"

New England’s Super Bowl honeymoon is over.

The “Deflategate” controversy, in which the New England Patriots were accused of releasing air pressure from footballs prior to the team’s 45-7 walloping of the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC championship game on Jan. 18, all but vanished following New England’s thrilling Super Bowl win over Seattle in early February. But on Wednesday, it came roaring back after the findings of an NFL-ordered investigation were released. Here’s a quick guide:

What did the ‘Deflategate’ report find?

According to the report from attorney Ted Wells, whom the NFL tasked with getting to the bottom of Deflategate, “it is more probable than not” that two New England Patriots employees, locker room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski, “participated in a deliberate plan to circumvent the rules by releasing air from Patriots game balls after the examination of the footballs by NFL game officials at the AFC Championship Game.”

Which other Patriots were implicated?

Star quarterback Tom Brady, of whom the report said it was “more probable than not” that he “was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls.” Brady said in January that he “would never have someone do something that was outside the rules.”

And what about Bill Belichick?

The report lets the rest of the team, including Head Coach Bill Belichik, off the hook. “We do not believe that the evidence establishes that any other Patriots personnel participated in or had knowledge of the violation of the Playing Rules or the deliberate effort to circumvent the rules described above,” wrote Wells and his team. “In particular, we do not believe there was any wrongdoing or knowledge of wrongdoing by Patriots ownership, Head Coach Belichick or any other Patriots coach in the matters investigated.”

How did the report come to this conclusion?

It cites text messages between McNally and Jastremski — which included McNally referring to himself as the “deflator” — to support its findings. It also relies on circumstantial evidence, such as McNally “bringing the game balls into the bathroom during his walk from the Officials Locker Room to the field, locking the door and remaining inside the bathroom with the game balls for approximately one minute and forty seconds, an amount of time sufficient to deflate thirteen footballs using a needle.”

And how does it figure Brady was involved?

Texts exchanged by McNally and Jastremski that suggest Brady knew what was going on. In October 2014, for example, Jastremski wrote: “Talked to him last night. He actually brought you up and said you must have a lot of stress trying to get them done … ” The “him,” the report believes, in this context refers to Brady, and “get them done” refers to the tampering. The report also cites increased text and phone communication between Brady and Jastremski — after that had not communicated electronically in six months — after the tampering allegations went public following the AFC Championship game.

What does the New England Patriots say about the report?

Owner Robert Kraft released a statement challenging its findings. “To say we are disappointed in its findings, which do not include any incontrovertible or hard evidence of deliberate deflation of footballs at the AFC Championship game, would be a gross understatement,” Kraft said. “While I respect the independent process of the investigation, the time, effort and resources expended to reach this conclusion are incomprehensible to me. Knowing that there is no real recourse available, fighting the league and extending this debate would prove to be futile. We understand and greatly respect the responsibility of being one of 32 in this league and, on that basis, we will accept the findings of the report and take the appropriate actions based on those findings as well as any discipline levied by the league.”

Why does it matter if the balls were deflated anyway?

Let this video explain:

What happens next?

NFL fans will want to hear more, especially from Brady. And the Pats must face this uncomfortable question: if it’s true they cheated in the championship game, did they steal this year’s Super Bowl?



TIME Boxing

Mayweather-Pacquiao Is a $300 Million Bout Not Worth Much for Boxing

JOHN GURZINSKI—AFP/Getty Images Floyd Mayweather Jr. (L) and Manny Pacquiao pose during a news conference at the KA Theatre at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino on April 29, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

One bout, especially between fading fighters—including a convicted abuser of women—won't revive a sport's relevance

Boxing’s “Fight of the Century,” between undefeated Floyd “Money” Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, takes place in Las Vegas on Saturday night, and one thing is clear: there’s plenty to loathe about the whole event. First off, the bout should have happened six years ago, when Mayweather, now 38, and Pacquiao, 36, were in their primes. But greed, ego and obstinance got in the way. The promoters are selling payoff: this is the fight you’ve been waiting years for! Finally, the moment has arrived! Buckle up! But really, they’re pushing waste. This should be the third or fourth Fight of the Century; a series of Mayweather-Pacquiao clashes could have re-energized the sport.

Plus, Mayweather’s a pretty unctuous fellow. He’s a convicted abuser of women. He’s been found guilty or pleaded guilty to battery five times in the past 14 years. And when questioned about these incidents, Mayweather dodges, changing the subject to the bout. The message: stop nagging about domestic violence, it’s a distraction on the road to more riches.

It’s detestable. If you’d rather not fork over $100 to support Mayweather, that’s an eminently rational move. You may also not want to line the pockets of Pacquiao, and his brand of politics: as a congressman in his native Philippines, Pacquiao is against gay marriage and has called condoms “sinful.”

But millions of people will watch the fight anyway, because Americans have a history of suspending moral judgement in the name of entertainment: we may hate Mayweather, but we love uppercuts (Mike Tyson, don’t forget, still drew a crowd after being released from prison for rape). And Mayweather-Pacquiao could very well live up to the hype. They’re singular talents, the premier fighters of this generation. Come Sunday morning, we all might be breathless. It was worth the wait.

But then what? Where does boxing, a sport that makes a few fighters ludicrously rich while barely entering the cultural conversation for the rest of the year, go from here?

Greg Bishop of Sports Illustrated reports that according to people close to Mayweather, the champ will fight one more time after facing Pacquiao. After that, he’ll call it quits. Pacquiao is also nearing the end. Boxing is firmly invested in the mega-fight model—drive demand to a handful of boxers, keep their bouts behind the pay-per-view wall, let these fighters and their cronies hoard the profits. Boxing is finally back on network television, as NBC and CBS are broadcasting fights from the Premier Boxing Champions promotion: NBC’s most recent telecast, the night of April 11 —a Saturday—drew 2.9 million viewers. By comparison, a Florida State-Notre Dame regular season college football game that aired on ABC on a Saturday night in October drew 13.25 million viewers.

Boxing’s jump back onto the network TV probably came too little, too late. Viewers forgot about the sweet science—and are satisfied with all of the other entertainment options that have emerged over the last two decades, including mixed martial arts. There’s no urgency to watch two unfamiliar fighters on a Saturday night.

Mayweather-Pacquiao will set all kinds of financial records; it’s projected to produce $72 million in ticket revenue, more than tripling the previous high for a prize fight. Mayweather, already the highest-paid athlete in the world, according to Forbes, will take some $180 million of the projected $300 million purse, with Pacquiao earning the rest. But these riches can’t buy any love—neither for Mayweather, nor his sport.

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