Let's be clear about something from the start.
Allegedly*deflated *footballs from the Patriots-Colts AFC championship game are at the center of Deflategate and the reason quarterback Tom Brady was suspended four games.
Then there are *kicking *balls in the Ravens-Patriots divisional playoff game, which are totally different balls and were not under league investigation.
That failed distinction has landed the Ravens in the middle of Deflategate's latest controversy, and Head Coach John Harbaugh emphatically tried to clear it up Wednesday afternoon.
Harbaugh was so passionate about setting the record straight that he even invited more questions from the media on the subject after reporters appeared to be finished.
"I'm open to answer any questions you have about it," Harbaugh said. "We're not running from any of it. … We've been honest from the beginning."
From the first whispers that the Ravens tipped off the Colts about the possibility of deflated footballs, Harbaugh has said that nobody from his team called the Colts to talk about deflated footballs.
That still holds true today, even with the latest email released Tuesday as part of a series of exhibits in Brady's federal case against the NFL.
The email from Colts Equipment Manager Sean Sullivan, sent one day before the Colts-Patriots AFC championship game to Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson, states that Ravens Special Teams Coach Jerry Rosburg called Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano to share concerns about their kicking balls being too hard – not too soft by deflation – and not the Ravens' prepared balls. Kicking Consultant Randy Brown also sent a text to the Colts about the same issue.
So there was no talk about *deflated *footballs.
The 243-page Wells report, released three months ago, already indicated that the Ravens had an issue with the kicking balls during their divisional game.
In a statement released Wednesday morning, Rosburg says there was "no conversation regarding footballs." And it was Pagano who called Rosburg, not the other way around. Pagano called to talk about a special teams substitution during the AFC divisional game.
To Sullivan's email saying Rosburg talked with Pagano about kicking balls, Harbaugh says "the guy [Sullivan] got it wrong."
"Jerry Rosburg did not talk to Chuck Pagano about deflated footballs," Harbaugh reiterated. "Any conversations that we had with the Colts had nothing to do with deflated footballs."
"They talked about a substitution situation on special teams. Chuck didn't see it on tape and he wanted to know what happened. The Patriots got penalized for that. That was their conversation."
To confirm, Harbaugh called Pagano late Tuesday night, and Pagano said any report indicating he and Rosburg talked about deflated balls was "totally false."
Harbaugh said he did not know or hear anything about deflated footballs until the first reports came out following the AFC championship game.
Still, misleading headlines and reports that blur the distinction between deflated footballs and kicking balls persist.
Despite the Ravens' repeated denials and explanations, Deflategate is entering its sixth month of being debated and dissected, including who (if anyone) told the league to check the air pressure of the AFC championship balls at halftime.
"It seems like somebody is trying to distract from the real issue here, which is deflated footballs, I guess," Harbaugh said. "I haven't cared at all about deflated footballs, or whether they did something wrong or anything else. We're on to 2015. We stand on every word said.
"We know what we did. We know the story. We know what we didn't do. We know what we didn't know and say. We don't care. We never cared. It didn't make any difference in our game. I don't care what happens. I don't care if [Tom Brady] plays, who plays, doesn't play, unless it's in our game. That's the only game we're thinking about. What we do is we focus on practice, man."