Gil LeBreton

Pressure builds for NFL penalty in Deflategate

Coach Bill Belichick insists that he did not know the Patriots used deflated footballs. “I told you everything I know,” he said.

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Coach Bill Belichick insists that he did not know the Patriots used deflated footballs. “I told you everything I know,” he said. ) AP

Everybody knows a Bill Belichick.

He’s the neighbor down the street who never rakes his leaves, figuring the wind will eventually blow them into your yard.

He’s the dad who spends hours doing 100 percent of his kid’s science fair project, just so Junior can bring home the trophy.

Or he’s the guy in your baseball fantasy league who preys on the weaker managers and always makes the one-sided trades.

We all know a Bill Belichick. The rules, he believes, aren’t made for him. He follows the rules he likes — ignores, mocks or circumvents the others.

Like the time Belichick put quarterback Tom Brady’s name on the Patriots’ injury list every week for the entire season. Let the other teams figure it out.

Like the hoodie couture, because he didn’t like the league telling a head coach how to dress.

OK. I get it. He’s comfortable with himself. He doesn’t care what you think.

Not for a minute should anyone suggest that with properly inflated footballs, Belichick, Brady and the New England Patriots wouldn’t have still thrashed the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

But why the denials and the shrugged shoulders?

“I told you everything I know,” Belichick said, over and over, at his Thursday morning news conference.

That, from a coach who once said taping another team’s defensive signals wasn’t a ploy to gain a competitive advantage.

That’s the problem, though, with the Bill Belichicks. They have been the neighborhood contrarians so long, they’ve convinced themselves that what they do with their leaves is none of your business.

Except somebody complained. And since Belichick, fined in 2007 for Spygate, surely has to at least be on double-secret probation with the NFL, somebody is going to have to investigate.

And investigate quickly, because the Las Vegas sports books and Super Bowl XLIX are just around the bend.

It was shifty, but Belichick was right to defer Thursday’s questions about football air pressure to quarterback Brady. After all, until Thursday, who doubted Tom Brady?

“I don’t do that,” Brady said, however, when asked whether the footballs in the second half felt a little ... funny.

“I get the snap. I drop back. I grip it and I try to throw the ball. That’s the extent of me touching the football. I don’t sit there and try to squeeze it.

“I didn’t think there was anything different between halves.”

But we’ve all seen quarterbacks on Sundays and on the TV sports shows, and what do they do when they’re just standing around and somebody puts a football in their hands?

They squeeze it.

If anybody knows the difference between 12.5 pounds per square inch of air pressure and 10.5 psi, it’s an NFL quarterback.

Was it cheating? The Belichicks we all know would counter with a question, “What is cheating?” A good coach, Bill Belichick might say, does what he can to win.

Belichick knows that his only judge and jury is Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has enough recent credibility problems of his own. Besides, Belichick knows that, even with the $500,000 fine from 2007, he’s ahead of Goodell on the scoreboard 45-7.

Goodell has been put in the position of disciplining his league’s most powerful coach, its most popular quarterback and his BFF, owner Robert Kraft.

Goodell has already established a precedent, of sorts, in the Bountygate case against the New Orleans Saints. In suspending coach Sean Payton for an entire season, Goodell said, “Ignorance is no excuse.”

Rules are rules. They should apply to everyone, even the block bully.

Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @gillebreton

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