'Conflict of interest'; Sherman questions pals Kraft, Goodell.

AuthorToland, Jennifer

Byline: Jennifer Toland

PHOENIX -- Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, never one to keep his opinions to himself, offered a pretty strong one on "Deflategate'' and what might happen to the Patriots if the NFL can prove they intentionally used under-inflated balls in their AFC Championship game win over the Colts.

"Will they be punished? Probably not,'' Sherman said soon after the Seahawks arrived here Sunday afternoon for Super Bowl XLIX. "Not as long as (Patriots owner) Robert Kraft and (NFL commissioner) Roger Goodell are still taking pictures at their respective homes. He was just at Kraft's house last week before the AFC Championship. You talk about a conflict of interest.

"As long as that happens,'' Sherman said, "it won't affect them at all. Nothing will.''

Goodell attended an AFC Championship party at Kraft's home last weekend.

The league is continuing its investigation into whether the Patriots purposely used under-inflated balls while beating the Colts, 45-7, in the AFC Championship.

According to reports, 11 of the 12 footballs used by the Patriots in the first half against the Colts were 2 pounds under the league limit.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick held a last-minute press conference Saturday to address the controversy and defend his team, saying, "At no time was there ever intent whatsoever to try to compromise the integrity of the game or to gain an advantage. Quite the opposite, we feel like we follow the rules of the game to the letter in our...

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