NFL really needs to back off the little guy

OK, enough’s enough.

How many more Jim McNallys have to get thrown under the bus before the National Football League finally closes the book on this ridiculous New England Patriots/deflated football controversy?

How many more game-day team employees have to have national media show up at their homes unannounced as reporters are tracking down their address and phone number?

Poor McNally. Reportedly, the Amherst resident has been employed by the New England Patriots for the better part of three decades. He’s been the officials locker room attendant for at least 10 of those years. The refs, by all accounts, love him.

Local people who know him say he’s a great guy. He has worked for a local beer distributor for a good while.

He wasn’t trying to dupe the referees or the Indianapolis Colts. He was just handing the ref a football that was handed to him to put in the game.

This is all getting so ridiculous. All the things that are coming out, including one of the NFL game-day employees who was fired for allegedly selling game-used footballs on the side. ESPN reporters are tripping all over each other to try to get the big story.

You know what’s going to happen with this thing?

There won’t be any story. Ted Wells is an attorney and he’s being paid by the NFL to find out why footballs weren’t properly inflated. League officials are being accused by media members for having it out for the Patriots. Reporters at press conferences asking Bill Belichick and Tom Brady how it feels to be a cheater.

It was embarrassing, it is embarrassing, and if all this foolishness doesn’t end soon, it will continue to be embarrassing. The National Football League has one of its game-day officials selling footballs that are supposed to go to charity?

Really, Roger Goodell?

The NFL ship seems rudderless, even as all the dollars come in. It’s pretty simple to see what has been happening. The league is so concerned with the big bucks and its image that the little things – such as game-day football care – are slipping through the cracks. Those mistakes add up and you get a mess.

You get a team like the Atlanta Falcons piping in crowd noise. You get foolishly run franchises like the Cleveland Browns in trouble for sending text messages to the sidelines during games.

You get dunderheads like Jameis Winston about to cash in on draft day. Other high-priced players are in trouble with the law. All the other PR bruises provided by high-profile players (think Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Richie Incognito.).

So the high rollers still come out with plenty in their pockets, and a guy like Jim McNally gets thrown under the bus.

The ravenous media was looking to attach a name to all the Patriots controversy and it’s likely that someone in the league fed it to all of us.

Ted Wells, step it up. The league that hired you, meanwhile, should be ashamed of itself, along with a lot of other people.

Hang in there, Jim McNally.

Tom King can be reached at 594-6468,, or @Telegraph_TomK.