**Note, the wonderful artwork above was done by none other than Ben Seuberling. The young son of our podcast guru Nick.
Peter King asks readers if they want him to write about football or deflategate. They overwhelmingly choose football. He writes about deflategate anyway.
Deflategate dominates Patriots coverage in advance of Super Bowl XLIX | The MMQB with Peter King
I asked you on Twitter late Wednesday if you’d prefer a Friday column on the events surrounding the Deflategate controversy in New England or an on-field football topic. You overwhelmingly voted football. I am writing this morning primarily about the Patriots’ football story. My current plan is for most of my “Monday Morning Quarterback” column to focus more on non-football-deflation topics, but today the story is too fresh, and too important, to ignore. As we enter “Day 5: America Held Hostage By Deflategate,” this is what I find significant:
Mark Brunell, desperate to be relevant, almost cries when talking about flat balls
Mark Brunell Almost Cries Over Deflated Balls
This is what we get for having two weeks before the Super Bowl. Stern questions at press conferences over the size and firmness of balls. Unironic tweets explicitly comparing the NFL's investigations to actual police work, despite the fact that last September, we received a big lesson about why it's unwise to hold up Roger Goodell and the league to the standard of an actual justice system. Mark Brunell choking up on ESPN and suggesting that maybe Tom Brady—gasp—isn't telling the truth. About his balls.
Marshawn Lynch is sticking to his guns
Marshawn Lynch “embarrassed to work for” the NFL over fines | ProFootballTalk
I feel embarrassed to work for a particular organization that fined a teammate of mine for shaking my hand after a touchdown
Speaking of the Seahawks, never leave one of their games early
Cops: Seahawks Fan Threatened To Knife Another For Leaving Game Early
Beware leaving a game early. For one thing, your team might forge a historic comeback and you'll be stuck watching—or listening—from afar. But one guy got it even worse. He told Seattle police a man threatened to stab him after he left the NFC Championship Game early.
The Browns may be searching for a Quarterback
Jimmy Haslam noncommittal on Johnny Manziel and on mission "to find that QB who can make us a championship team' | cleveland.com
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam stressed Thursday night that the Browns are on a mission to find a championship-caliber quarterback and that they have no idea if Johnny Manziel can be their man.
New Browns OC doesn’t know if his starter is in the building | ProFootballTalk
“We’re not sure if our starting quarterback is in the building or not,” he said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. With Brian Hoyer about to become an unrestricted free agent, the Browns have 2014 first-rounder Johnny Manziel and undrafted rookie Connor Shaw on the roster, so they’ll obviously be adding someone.
But the Bengals are 100% good with their signal caller
It's no surprise Cincinnati Bengals content with Andy Dalton - ESPN
Kudos to the Cincinnati Enquirer's Paul Dehner and Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson for the news they gathered out of a nearly 40-minute sit-down interview with Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, on Wednesday. Yours truly did not make the trip down.
The Steelers security chief may have a conflict on interest. Also known as "The Cleaner"
Report: Lieutenant Called "The Cleaner" Also Steelers Security Chief
ESPN's Outside The Lines is reporting today that the head of security for the Pittsburgh Steelers since 2001 has at the same time continued working as a high-ranking law enforcement officer in the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office. This sure looks like a potential conflict of interest, and ESPN's Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada lay out several detailed examples where that seemed to happen. It also might explain why Lt. Jack Kearney's nickname in certain circles, ESPN reports, is "The Cleaner."