Obama on Deflategate: Patriots would have won 'regardless'

President Obama weighed in on the Patriots' Deflategate controversy in an interview Sunday, saying the Patriots would have beat the Colts in the AFC title game 'no matter what the balls looked like.' Mr. Obama also refused to side with either the Patriots or the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. 

Carolyn Kaster/AP/File
President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington. The president gave his thoughts on Deflategate in a pre-Super Bowl interview Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015.

At long last, the leader of the free world has weighed in on Deflategate. His reaction?  A big shrug, more or less.

"Here's what I know: the Patriots were going to beat the Colts regardless of what the footballs looked like," Mr. Obama said, referring to whether or not the New England Patriots intentionally deflated footballs to make them easier to throw.

The president’s comments came in a pre-game interview on NBC with “Today” show anchor Savannah Guthrie. Obama also spoke on the economy, answered questions about getting his agenda through an uncooperative Congress, and played rapid-fire round of “either/or” with Guthrie (he prefers basketball over football, offense over defense, and chips and guacamole over Buffalo wings).

What surprised him, the president went on to say, was the fact that teams are in charge of their own footballs at all. "I'm assuming one of the things the NFL is going to be doing just to avoid any of these controversies is figuring out how the officials are in charge of the footballs from start to finish," he said.

But Ms. Guthrie pressed him.  Was it cheating if the Patriots under-inflated the footballs? 

"If you break the rules, then you break the rules," he replied 

Obama was also mum on who he was rooting for during the game, or which team he thought would prevail, saying he wouldn’t want to alienate a major city by picking a side.

Obama’s favorite team, the Chicago Bears, didn’t get anywhere near Glendale this year, but the team will play a big part in the Super Bowl thanks to Deflategate: The Bears’ equipment manager is in charge of both teams’ game balls, arranging them for the Patriots’ and Seahawks’ ball boy crews. The NFL says the practice of hiring a third-party equipment manager for the Super Bowl is typical.

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