Shula, Ryan and Pettine pile on New England Patriots for Deflategate

Shula, Ryan and Pettine pile on New England Patriots for Deflategate
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady warms up before Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks on Feb. 1. (Matt York / Associated Press)

The Indianapolis Colts played an integral role in holding the NFL's hand and leading it the New England Patriots' deflated footballs.

Since speaking out to alert the league, however, the team has gone silent on the issue, instead preferring to talk about the upcoming season.


But others, like Hall of Fame Coach Don Shula, Buffalo Bills Coach Rex Ryan and Cleveland Browns Coach Mike Pettine, have been a bit more vocal about Deflategate.

Shula's 1972 Miami Dolphins are the only NFL team to go undefeated. The Patriots nearly matched that feat in 2007, but for Giants receiver David Tyree's Super Bowl catch. The fact that his Dolphins and the '07 Pats are not forever linked in history hasn't been lost on Shula, who had his own jab for New England.

"It was always done with a lot of class, and a lot of dignity," Shula said of his 347 wins over 33 seasons. "We didn't deflate any balls. They all had the right amount of air in them.

"'We always tried to do it by the rules and set an example for those that are looking for an example."

Ryan, who was fired by the Jets following last year's disastrous 4-12 season, saw Brady and the Patriots on the field 13 times but came away with just four wins against New York's AFC East rival.

"I'm not feeling sorry for anybody," said Ryan, whose new Bills team will play the Patriots in Week 2. "Last I looked, it's still the New England Patriots. They won the Super Bowl, right? I mean, that's the last I looked."

Former Jets defensive coordinator turned Cleveland Browns Coach Mike Pettine was a bit more direct in his criticism.

"I know what was put out there but [Brady's] one of the best ever and it would be a shame to tarnish that and we'll see how it plays out," Pettine told Cleveland's WKYC-TV. "I've always had respect for him, but also I lose a lot of respect for people who cheat."

Eli Manning, who has the distinction of beating the Patriots in two Super Bowls, including the one with the previously mentioned Tyree catch, said he felt bad for his contemporary.

"Tom has been a friend of mine. I don't like to see anyone get suspended. In no way am I glad to see this happen," Manning told the New York Post. "I don't like to see anybody get in trouble .... I think it is about integrity and you have to follow the rules. So if someone's breaking rules I understand they're going to get punished."

Former New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who successfully had his suspension for the Saints' bounty scandal overturned by wading through the NFL's system of appeals and federal court, suggested Brady should "lawyer up" and develop a game plan to beat the league by way of the court system.

It's not known how Brady will proceed at this juncture -- though an appeal is expected -- but the ball, presumably inflated to league specifications, is now in his hands.

Follow Matt Wilhalme on Twitter @mattwilhalme