Full disclosure, I agree with that Emmanuel Sanders said in regards to the Patriots.
Also full disclosure, it really doesn't matter what I think.
Whose opinion does matter is the team Sanders is currently playing for, the Denver Broncos. While I can't say whether or not team president John Elway and company are OK with Sanders' recent comments in regards to New England's most recent Super Bowl validity, I can say with certainty that his words would not have sat well with those in the front office of the Pittsburgh Steelers' organization.
In case you missed it, Sanders was asked about whether or not he thinks the Patriots' Super Bowl XLIX victory is legitimate this past weekend while Sanders was working at Ed McCaffrey's football camp. Sanders pulled no punches, essential calling the Patriots cheaters after it was discovered that 11 of the 12 balls they used in last year's AFC championship game were not up to standard inflation.
"Am I mad about Deflategate? I feel like I'm on ESPN with that question. ...Yeah, yeah, I'm kind of mad. I don't think that they should be the Super Bowl champion this year," Sanders said, per NFL.com. "You aren't supposed to cheat. Cheating is not good, especially when you've got guys who are working their butts off for 365 days out of the year and one person cheats -- whether it helps them win the Super Bowl or not, they still cheated and shouldn't be a champion."
And with that, there's another reason to be thankful for Antonio Brown.
In the year following his departure from Pittsburgh, Sanders has proven himself as a quality, Pro Bowl-caliber NFL receiver. He caught 101 passes for 1,404 yards with nine touchdowns and joined Brown in Miami in last year's Pro Bowl. I liked Sanders during his time in Pittsburgh, and as alluded to earlier, I agree with Sanders' comments in regards to the Patriots; an asterisk should be next to the Super Bowl XLIX champion in the record books indicating that the winning team had been caught cheating two prior weeks before the game in the AFC title game.
But while Sanders' comments may be justified, they would make the Rooneys cringe if he was still donning the Black and Gold. The Steelers have been quiet thus far this offseason and haven't given any other teams fuel for their respective fires. Save some moments during the Joey Porter era, the Steelers are normally the team that responds to trash talk rather than the team that dishes it out. In fact, two of the more famous moments in franchise history were when the Steelers faced and overcame verbal challenges dealt by the 70's Cowboys in safety Cliff Harris and linebacker Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson. Traditionally, the Steelers like to do their talking on the field, a trend this current Pittsburgh team has adopted (knock on wood) and hopefully continues throughout the season.
It's obvious Emmanuel Sanders doesn't like New England. Not many people do outside of Massachusetts. And while he's right in criticizing their more recent championship, you can't argue with the fact that the Patriots bulldozed the Colts-deflated footballs or not-in that AFC title game and, two weeks later, defeated the defending Super Bowl champions in dramatic fashion.
This situation reminds me of when I used to play my friend in Madden on PlayStation back in the day. My friend would always go for it on fourth down instead of punting, and would always try onside kicks, even with a three or four touchdown lead. As much as I hated the way he played, he would always counter my objections with the statement, "If you don't like it, stop it." As much as I hated when his smirking, condescending face uttered that phrase, I always knew my friend was right.
That quote rings truth to the modern day Patriots. Winning is the only true way to vanquish New England, to deny them anymore glory during this era of football. Defeating New England and taking even more luster off of their "dynasty" is something the Steelers will try to do the next time the (inflated) football is kicked off to start the 2015 season.
Follow the author on Twitter: @BryanDeArdo