Aikman: Patriots' punishment should exceed Saints' in bounty scandal

To paraphrase Allen Iverson, we're talking about deflated balls?

Yes, yes we are. And FOX Sports color commentator, Hall of Famer and former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman thinks the NFL should heavily sanction the Patriots.

"It's obvious that Tom Brady had something to do with this," Aikman told SportsRadio 1310 on Thursday morning (via the Dallas Morning News), prior to coach Bill Belichick speaking with the media. "I know going back to when I played, they've loosened up the rules in terms of what each team is able to do with the footballs coming into the game. Used to, the home team provided all the balls. And now, each team brings their footballs the way they like them and break 'em in. Used to you couldn't break them in. So for the balls to be deflated, that doesn't happen unless the quarterback wants that to happen, I can assure you of that."

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So how hard should the league come down on the Pats?

"This whole comment by Roger Goodell based on the Saints when Sean Payton got suspended for the year, and he says 'ignorance is no excuse,' that's going to come back to haunt him again," Aikman said "That haunted him during the whole Ray Rice situation with he, himself, and now it's going to haunt Roger Goodell in terms of what the punishment is for the New England Patriots and Bill Belichick. If ignorance is no excuse, and it wasn't for Sean Payton."

The biggest difference between the Saints bounty scandal and Deflategate?

"Sean Payton did not cheat," Aikman explained. "There was nothing that Sean Payton and the Saints did that was illegal. And they did not give themselves a competitive edge. I maintain, regardless of whatever was said in the locker room, and in that locker room, is not anything different than what's been said in any other locker room around the league. There's no proof on the field of what took place that guys were targeting players. You can always pull out a play here and there. They were one of the least penalized teams for unsportsmanlike conduct. So there was no evidence that anything translated to the field that they were trying to hurt players. And they did not give themselves a competitive advantage.

"Now twice, under Bill Belichick and possibly a third time, they've cheated and given themselves an advantage. To me, the punishment for the Patriots and/or Bill Belichick has to be more severe than what the punishment was for the New Orleans Saints."

Meanwhile, Belichick told reporters that he was Bill Belichick was "shocked to learn of the news reports about the footballs ... I had no knowledge whatsoever of this situation until Monday morning."

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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