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Deflategate: Intrigue and drama in the AFC

The Ravens are the Steelers arch rivals, but have their actions behind the scenes worked in the best interests of the Black & Gold?

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Some ideas are timeless. Case in point, the 4th century Indian proverb "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."  Though the Ravens deny it, there seems to be evidence that our Charm City rivals may have played a key role in the deflategate scandal. This according to documents recently released by the NFLPA, as reported by the Baltimore Sun.

Unlike the Patriots, the Ravens involvement in the scandal did not involve cheating. Instead, documents released recently seem to indicate that the Indianapolis Colts had some help in figuring out that the game-day balls during that fateful AFC playoff game in January had pressure levels below the threshhold allowed by NFL rules.

While the true scandal originated when the Patriots equipment managers tampered with equipment for the first time (we can't know with certainty how long this illicit practice was in place), the concatenation of events that has resulted in Tom Brady's four-game suspension may have originated before the playoff game, and it may have originated with the Ravens.

The narrative in the media has been that Colts LB D'Qwell Jackson noticed the football he intercepted in the second quarter of the AFC Championship game felt a tad underinflated. While this version of events wasn't called into question at the time, how often during a game do linebackers handle footballs? In hindsight, it does seem a bit odd and unexpected that a linebacker would be the one to realize the anomaly. After all, linebackers are in the business of handling people, not balls. In his entire eight-season career, Jackson has only had eight interceptions. His interception against the Patriots was his only one of 2014.

The Ravens have denied tipping off the Colts, but their denials appear to be a case of Shakespearean Methinks the Coach Doth Protest too much.  Harbaugh's pre-Super Bowl statement on the matter in early 2015 is a bit odd in hindsight: "It's ridiculous. It never happened. I never made any call. Nobody in our organization made any call. Just to make sure I had all the facts, I called Chuck Pagano this week and asked him, 'Did anybody else in our organization tip you off about any deflated footballs?' And he said, 'No way.'"

That's exactly how my kids deny sneaking candy before dinner. "Who me? No way? That's crazy. We'd never do that. And to verify, you can ask the dogs. They said, 'No way. Never happened." Call it a hunch, but that denial seems an awful lot like an admission.

Is an enemy of the Patriots a friend of the Steelers? Perhaps that is a bit of a stretch, but it certainly does seem the Steelers fans have reason to appreciate the Ravens for more than the their role as our counterpart in action-packed AFC North match-ups.