Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said the New England Patriots won't be punished for Deflategate because of a "conflict of interest" between Patriots owner Robert Kraft and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Speaking at the Seahawks' introductory Super Bowl XLIX press conference Sunday afternoon in Phoenix, Sherman expressed doubt that the NFL will severely punish the Patriots for allegedly deflating footballs before last weekend's AFC Championship Game.
"Will they be punished? Probably not," Sherman said during Sunday's media availability, according to Sporting News. "Not as long as Robert Kraft and Goodell are taking pictures at their respective homes. I think he was just at Kraft's house last week for the NFC championship. Talk about conflict of interest."
Goodell and Kraft were photographed together during an AFC Championship party at Kraft's house.
Asked if the Patriots were "cheaters" in light of the 2007 Spygate controversy, Sherman was also blunt.
"I think the perception is the reality. It is what it is," Sherman said, according to NJ.com. "Their resume speaks for itself. You talk about getting close to the line. ... I don't really have a comment about that, but their past is what their past is, their present is what their present is."
The NFL released a statement on Friday saying it has conducted nearly 40 interviews and continues to obtain evidence in its Deflategate investigation. Patriots coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have each denied any wrongdoing in separate press conferences.
- Mike Fiammetta